Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about the investment you are making when purchasing a Westward Leather Co. product, or any leather product for that matter. The attraction to leather seems timeless, as it has been used and cherished for ages, for many reasons of course. In some ways, perhaps that is because it has been available, as a by product of hunting animals. After all, leather is a hide, a type of thick skin.
It is important to remember this, for just as we work to take care of our own skin, by cleaning, protecting, moisturizing or what have you, we must take a similar approach to caring for our leather goods if we want them to last as long as possible, continue looking fantastic, and functioning with strength.
Of course, no matter what we do, our leather goods will change with time, developing scars, stains, scrapes; fading or darkening, stiffening or softening: they will achieve a character all their own, telling a story of the user, completely individual. It's a beautiful process.
Probably more than half of your responsibility is just acknowledging these truths, expecting and anticipating them so that you can provide your goods the proper attention from time to time. After all, leather goods can be quite a financial investment, but if taken care of properly they will pay you back for years to come...perhaps even outlast you!
Our two cents at WLC comes from years of experience, trials and tests, and many hours of research and handling. But there is always someone out there with even more experience, so do some of your own research as well. Meanwhile, here are a few pointers from WLC that can get you on the right track.
It's gonna get wet, no denying it. Your leather at some point could be in the rain, get spilled on, or even just absorb sweat from your body on a muggy summer day. It's okay. After all, most tanning process' include water at some point. And think about the generations of people that for decades used leather outside in the elements on a regular basis. But extreme exposure to the elements can shorten the lifespan of your leather goods. Our recommendation, if something gets really wet, let it sit for a few days and dry out completely. IMPORTANT: it's best not to assist the drying process: either with fire or a hairdryer, or whatever. The sun however, is acceptable. Heating leather, especially when wet can dry it out, cause it to shrink, warp. Just be patient, set it aside where it can keep it's correct shape, and let it dry.
Depending on the type of product, you won't always need to spend much time cleaning your leather goods. Sometimes it'll be just a quick wipe down. But we do recommend a quick brush off, or a full saddle soap cleaning before applying leather conditioner. Otherwise the newly applied conditioner can just trap old dirt with it. And during the cleaning, don't be afraid to get the leather wet. As said before, we think it's best to let it dry before applying a conditioner.
Leather at one point was a living organism, gathering proteins and moisture from the animal it belonged to. Now it needs assistance to get those things that help keep it supple as well as strong. Not only that, but good leather conditioners that are on the market will also help protect against water and staining, while helping to restore the leather to it's original state. Sometimes it's even a good idea to apply a leather treatment to a brand new product if it already feels dry. But time and trial will teach you what is good to do, and when...and every leather type requires a slightly different attention. Here at WLC, and for my personal leather goods, boots, etc. I highly recommend Obenaufs leather care products. The Heavy Duty LP and/or the Leather Oil are both wonderful products, top of their class in our opinion. We hope to carry some in our store soon, but until then pick some up from them directly.
Get into it! It can quickly become a favorite chore to care for your leather goods (especially boots and shoes). There is definitely something rewarding in it, even though it can feel a bit meticulous sometimes. But, it's also necessary if you want your stuff to last, and the longer it lasts, the more you will love it. Our advice here at WLC though, is don't overdo it. There is a fine line between care and smothering. Over conditioning leather can cause it break down as well. Leather needs time to breath, and it's perfectly alright for it to get a little dirty in-between touch up sessions. There is, however, a great habit to to get into if caring for your leathers is something you like to do: hit it with the horsehair. A horsehair brush is a must in our opinion. They are cheap and they are a wonderful tool for a little weekly love. Also, the brush is a wonderful tool for a sweep over after a full conditioning. It will help pull away extra oil and conditioner from the surface, the threads, etc.
THANK YOU for taking the time to read through this.
As you can tell, we are a bit geeked out over this subject matter, but only because we think it's important (and also enjoyable). It brings a sense of purpose and capability to take care of things that are part of our daily lives. We at WLC feel that such care says something good about an individual. But if there are other questions you have that we've left unanswered, about polish, or methods, or whatever...just drop us a line on our contact page and we'll try to figure it out together.