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A compilation of articles about leather and auto care
by Martha Stewart
Direct link: www.marthastewart.com/article/how-to-care-for-choes
When we wear leather or suede shoes, it's usually with a bit of trepidation. Stains can easily result when our shoes come in contact with rain or salt, and can quickly become scuffed from general use. Follow these shoe-care tips to keep your shoes looking their best.
Tools and Materials
Cleaning and Polishing Smooth Leather Shoes
Cleaning Suede Shoes
Removing Salt Stains
Read more at Marthastewart.com: Caring for Shoes - Martha Stewart Home and Garden
by Clinton Anderson
Most people don’t think of taking care of their leather products until something breaks or cracks. I’ve seen lots of dangerous things happen because people haven’t taken the time to clean or condition their tack. They let their stirrups and fenders get all dried out and cracked up, and then they get seriously hurt because the fender broke or snapped while they were riding.
You are only as safe as the equipment you ride in, and an extra second of attention could protect you and your horse from serious injury.
Ninety-nine percent of the tack we use on our horses is made of leather. Leather is a natural product, and anything that is natural has to be maintained to last as long as it should. Most of the leather equipment we use on our horses is made with full-grain leather, which means that it is as thick as the original hide. Like skin, leather is made up of three layers.
Leather contains a certain amount of natural oil, and overtime, that oil evaporates and must be replenished. If you don’t replenish the oil, the leather will dry out and become brittle. When leather loses its moisture, its natural fibers pull away from each other and permanently weaken the piece of equipment. I, personally, can’t stand working with stiff leather that is rough and creaks. Taking time to clean and condition the leather will extend the life of your equipment and ensure your safety.
You don’t have to do a full-fledged tack cleaning every time you ride. In fact, soaping your saddle up after every ride can actually do more harm than good to the natural fibers in the leather. The goal of cleaning tack is to remove the dirt while keeping natural oils in the leather. As long as you wipe your tack off after a ride and clean and condition the leather every so often, you’ll be in great shape.
I spend two or three minutes after every ride giving my tack a quick wipe down to get rid of the dirt and dust on the surface of the leather. You’ll want to use a damp, lint free cloth or sponge to go over the surface of the tack. The sponge or cloth you use shouldn’t be soaking wet. The sponge should be damp so that there’s enough moisture to penetrate into the grain’s pores and dissolve the dirt from the arena or trail and the salts from your horse’s sweat. You don’t want to use so much water that it soaks deep into the leather and damages the protein fibers there. Lexol Cleaner Quick-Wipes work great for this. Instead of dealing with sponges and a bucket of water, the Quick-Wipes are already damp and ready to use with the right amount of moisture. After my ride, I take the saddle off of my horse, sit it on a saddle rack and wipe off the surface dirt. I pay special attention to areas where leather pieces are joined together because they tend to collect a lot of dirt and grime. This whole process takes less than five minutes, but accomplishes a lot. Any dust or grit that is absorbed into the leather will act like sandpaper on the fibers and break them down, shortening the life of your equipment. Make it a habit to wipe down your tack after every ride, removing surface dirt and dust.
If you ride on a regular basis, every two or three weeks, you’ll need to give your tack a deep, thorough cleaning. You’ll know it’s time to do more than just wipe your tack down after a ride when the dirt can’t be wiped off easily.
Conditioning Your Tack
Besides keeping your tack clean, it is also important to condition it. All leather has natural oils in it, but overtime, those oils evaporate out of the pores. You have to condition the leather and put more oils back in it so that it doesn’t dry out and crack. How often you have to condition your tack depends on the climate you live in. If you live in an area with dry heat, you’ll have to replenish the natural oils more often than if you lived in an area with mild temperatures.
It’s important that you only condition leather after you have cleaned it first. Otherwise, you’ll just be adding oil to dirt. Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to all areas of the tack with a clean, soft cloth. I use Lexol Leather Conditioner on all of my tack because it instantly nourishes and protects the leather without leaving an oily residue behind. The biggest mistake most people make when they condition their tack is applying too much oil. Don’t overdue it. Apply a thin layer once, and then wait 24 hours before applying more oil if you think the leather needs it.
As important as it is to clean your tack, it is just as important to store it in a well ventilated place with a controlled temperature. If you store your equipment in damp conditions, it can lead to mold and mildew damage. Once mold or mildew spores get into leather, it is difficult to keep them from growing back. If you live in an area with lots of humidity, you’ll have to be extra careful of this. Avoid storing your tack in dark places that encourage the growth of mold and mildew. The best place to store tack is in a clean, dry room with a controlled temperature.
Any piece of equipment that gets used on a day to day basis, even one made of high quality leather, will eventually wear out. However, if you maintain your tack by cleaning and conditioning it, you’ll be amazed at how much life you’ll get out of it. Remember, both your safety and your horse’s safety depends on the condition of your equipment. Set yourself up for success and ensure the safety of both you and your horse by taking a few seconds after every ride to wipe your tack down to protect and prevent the leather from cracking and drying. Cleaning and conditioning makes tack longer lasting, more comfortable and easier to use.
Use a Buying Guide to Maneuver Your Way to a Luxurious Leather Furniture
By Teresa Opdycke
by David Bynon
There are two important parts to caring for your leather interior: cleaning and conditioning. Since your leather interior is the most delicate surface of your car, it is necessary to clean and condition regularly in order to preserve it, protect it, and keep it smelling new. Whether you’re cleaning or conditioning, we recommend that you take one section at a time. This means, when you have applied your cleaner or conditioner to one area, fully wipe down that area then proceed to the next, and so on. This process ensures that you cover all areas thoroughly. Work on an area no larger than 2-3 square feet at a time.
HOW DO I CLEAN MY LEATHER?
Apply the leather cleaner of your choice one section at a time and work the solution into a nice lather. If your leather is heavily soiled, use an upholstery (interior detailing) brush. When finished be sure to remove all soap from the surface with a damp towel. Rinse and wipe several times, then dry the leather with a fresh, dry towel. By the way, water will not hurt your leather. Most leather is actually made (tanned) in water.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CLEAN MY LEATHER?
If you have a dark colored leather interior, we recommend 2-3 times a year. Light colored leather will need cleaning more often, even as much as every other month, depending on how easily the dirt is revealed. In between cleaning your leather (every other time you wash your car), use a clean damp towel to wipe down the surface completely. This removes the dust and light dirt so it won’t have a chance to work into your leather. There are two cleaning factors that cause leather to wear. The first is dirt and the second is oil from your skin. The oil from your skin is actually the most damaging to your leather. This is particularly true if you wear shorts or a tank top, and have recently applied lotion or sun screen to your skin. Take this into consideration, also, in determining your cleaning schedule.
HOW DO I CONDITION MY LEATHER?
Apply the leather conditioner of your choice on one section at a time using a soft a foam wax applicator. Work the conditioner in thoroughly. Allow the conditioner to sit (soak in) for a few minutes, then buff off the excess with a dry terry cloth towel. It’s important to buff off the excess. If you allow the excess to stay, your seats will be slippery. After a few minutes of soak time, your leather has taken in all the moisture it can. The remainder will simply evaporate, leaving that milky cloud on the inside of your windows.
WHY IS CONDITIONING MY LEATHER SO IMPORTANT?
Leather requires replacement of natural oils or it will dry out and crack. Conditioning helps to restore these natural oils and keeps the leather soft and supple. You will also find, particularly with the Zymol and Pinnacle leather conditioners, that the smell of the leather will be enhanced. Remember how your car smelled when it was new?
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CONDITION MY LEATHER?
We recommend once every 30-45 days depending on the climate condition in which you live. If you live in a climate that is humid, you won’t have to condition as often as someone who lives in a dryer climate. A cold, dry winter in the East can deplete your leather of it’s moisture causing it to dry and crack just like a hot dry summer in the West.
WHAT PRODUCTS SHOULD I USE TO CLEAN MY LEATHER?
We recommend Lexol Spray Leather Cleaner and Pinnacle Leather & Vinyl Cleaner. Both work very well. Both are easy to use, and easy to rinse.
WHAT PRODUCTS SHOULD I USE TO CONDITION MY LEATHER?
We recommend Lexol Spray Leather Conditioner, Pinnacle Leather Conditioner, Eagle One, and Hyde Food.
David Bynon is a Howtocleananything.com forum expert. This and other car care information can be found at Autopia Car Care.