Properly clean and care for leather bags

A beautiful leather photo bag that feels wonderfully soft, accompanies you for many years and is still as supple and shiny as on the first day? Not a pipe dream, but a question of proper care.

Different types of leather

Leather is a world of its own, because on every continent and in every culture there are different animals whose hides are tanned into leather, special processing techniques as well as typical traditional objects that are made from this material. In general, leather is differentiated according to the animal species from which it comes and the way in which it was tanned. And finally, the subsequent processing and dyeing are decisive in determining the character of the leather.

Worldwide, most of the leather used to make furniture, car seats, jackets, bags or shoes comes from cattle, lambs or pigs. The hides of these animals are economically interesting because they are by-products of the meat and dairy industries. During processing, a further distinction is made between covered and open-pore leather. Covered leather has a special protective coating and is therefore water-repellent, while open-pored leather is untreated and therefore has no protection. Water droplets penetrate directly into such leather and lead to stains and dark spots. If the leather is roughened during processing, it is in the nubuck or suede also known as suede leather. This type of leather is particularly sensitive and requires special care in cleaning and maintenance.

Meanwhile, there are more and more alternatives to genuine leather on the market. Faux leather has long been more than a hard, shiny surface that looks like nothing. Not only among vegans, alternatives such as mushroom leather are currently very popular. However, it cannot compete with the liveliness and diversity of genuine leather made from animal skins. This leather evolves and changes and is unbeatable in its resistance and durability. To ensure that your genuine leather photo bag is truly sustainable, it should be well cared for so that it stays beautiful and in use for a long time.

The right leather care

Leather is a very durable, sturdy and not very demanding material. Even a small amount of care can ensure that your new photo bag will still shine in a few years. There are three basic steps to do this: care, waterproofing and cleaning the leather.

Just like human skin, leather needs special care when it is exposed to wind and weather, but especially to UV radiation. Leather care is mainly about greasy products that make the leather soft and supple again. Often, a wax is also added to these products, which provides a certain protection against soaking. One such leather cream that you rub in with a cloth is Oberwerth Recovery Creme, which simultaneously impregnates and restores your favorite bag to its former glory. There's also a Power Care Leather Preserve Wax from Oberwerth, which is a leather wax for smooth leather made from pure synthetic fat that conditions and softens the photo bag.

For best success, pick up these creams with a soft, clean cloth, spread them evenly over the entire bag, and massage them in as you would your own skin after bathing. The bag can then be made to shine by polishing it in circular motions, preferably at room temperature, otherwise it will be too harsh and may cause streaks that will need to be re-polished.

Wind & weatherproofing

When it comes to waterproofing, many people first think of the winter shoes that are taken out of the closet at the beginning of the season and are always waterproofed as a first step. Of course, most leather products have already been optimally treated before purchase to make them as water and dirt repellent as possible. A few months after purchase, however, the protective impregnation should be refreshed. This can prevent water from soaking into the bag and leaving unsightly stains on the leather without much effort. It is also important with impregnation, as with the care of the leather bag, that the leather is cleaned beforehand as precisely as possible. Then the impregnation is usually sprayed in the form of a spray from a distance of about 20 cm on the bag and allowed to act briefly. For optimum protection, this procedure can be repeated two or three times.

Meanwhile, care and impregnation are no longer "either or". Caring for your favorite photo bag is even easier with combination products such as Organic Hydro Plus from Oberwerth, which impregnate, clean and care at the same time. Recommended application of these products is not primarily generous, but primarily regular, every 4 to 8 weeks depending on use.

Cleaning leather effectively

In general, before any treatment, whether with a care product or a waterproofing spray, leather products should be gently cleaned at least with a damp cloth or a soft leather brush, so that any dirt that may be present is not fixed on the bag by the application. It is advisable to use distilled water instead of tap water, as it does not contain minerals that could leave unsightly stains on the bag.

If the leather is more heavily soiled, a gentle cleaning agent can be used that is specially designed for cleaning leather. Here, leather or saddle soaps from the equestrian sector have proven particularly effective. Afterwards, the leather should definitely be cared for, as any cleaning will attack it. If there are grease stains on the leather, they can be carefully evened out by spreading the bag out on an ironing board, placing a cloth over it and lightly ironing the leather thus protected at medium speed. The grease can be partially absorbed by the cloth and is generally distributed more evenly on the leather.

Dos and don'ts of leather care

Don'ts:

● Grease or oil rough leather, instead use a leather brush to brush out dirt first with the grain, then brush against the grain to restore the roughened surface texture
● Dry leather bags on the heater or in the sun, but fill the bag with old newspaper to keep its shape and let it air dry. Then care for it!!!

Dos:

● When caring for and cleaning, always start at a small, inconspicuous spot
● Care often instead of a lot; not "a lot helps a lot", but "often helps a lot"
● Carefully roughen up rough leather that has become slippery from being worn a lot with a special brush
● Use caring greases sparingly, as this makes the leather darker and softer

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Sources
https://oberwerth.com/collections/zubehor
https://www.stilord.de/ledertaschen-pflegen
https://de.liebeskind-berlin.com/lederpflege-LP_CARE.html

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