There are 2 schools of thought on leather care.
1. "The Old Chevy Truck"
Use the heck out of it, abuse it, haul stuff in it, drive it thru the mud, dance on it and allow it to develop its own character and a rich natural patina.
2. ”The Vintage Rolls Royce”
Coddle and protect it like a newborn baby, never let it see more than 30 minutes of sunlight at a time and wear clean white gloves when using.
For my style of handbags, I lean more towards #1. However, a little love and knowledge will keep your leather item looking fresh and prolong it’s life. And that is why we love leather, right? Because it lasts! Follow these hot tips for keeping your bag looking supple and fresh.
Leather has 3 enemies: moisture, heat and direct sunlight. Too much moisture=mildew. Too much heat=dried out. Too much direct sunlight=cracking.
If your leather gets wet, dry it slowly at room temperature, no direct forced heat or you’ll end up with a sad dry cracked shell. Dry it in the shape you want it to end up. After it is completely dry, condition it.
For general spot cleaning, use a soft water-dampened cloth to rub out dirt. For oil or grease, try Murphy’s Oil Soap or a gentle dish soap. Always try an inconspicuous spot first to make sure your chosen product doesn’t react with the leather and leave an obvious discoloration or stain.
Condition your leather once in awhile. Pros say 1-2 times/year. More if you live in an excessively dry or moist climate. It’s not nuke science, when it starts to look dry and thirsty, rub a good quality conditioner into your bag. Make sure you don’t buy a colored conditioner. There are lots of good ones but I like Montana Pitch Blend products. Anywhere that sells horse tack or leather shoes will also most likely carry a few different options.
Leather will stretch out but not back. Be conscious of how much stuff you cram into your bag. If you have so much stuff in your bag that it is bulging, you probably need to carry less stuff or buy a bigger bag. Careful though, this is how back problems start.
To prevent mildew growth, don’t store your leather item in plastic. Let it breathe. Instead, store in a natural fabric dust bag or corner of a closet. Also, avoid keeping it in an overly humid area (steamy bathroom or close to a humidifier) for extended periods of time. If you do end up with mildew on your precious leather item, try a mix of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water. Apply mixture to a soft cloth and gently rub. Leathers are tanned with different oils, fats, bark, dyes and other compounds. Because of this, always test a small spot first before putting anything on your entire bag, just to make sure it doesn’t react. It is completely normal for leather to darken temporarily after you condition it.