Does water ruin leather: What really happens
It is impossible to foresee the event that your favorite vintage leather bag, shoes, and other accessories would get wet. This may be caused by rain, water spills, puddles, or even carelessness from strangers. A wet leather situation could literally pop out from nowhere! After it happens, we ask ourselves, “Does water ruin leather?” YES, if it is left untreated. Therefore, how we deal with the whole wet leather ordeal is crucial in preventing our leather from irreparable damage.
Water easily permeates leather. Leather contains oils that make the material durable and flexible. When the leather absorbs water, the oils combine with the water molecules. You don’t want this to happen because as the leather dries, the oils evaporate with the water molecules. Consequently, the leather loses its oils which causes the leather to become brittle and form cracks. However, don't you worry! Our Leather Experts here at Steel Horse Leather will help you deal with the situation. In the next section, our experts will help you answer how do I prevent water from ruining leather?
How do I prevent water from ruining leather?
Oh no! Your leather bag got wet, BUT don’t panic. You are probably wondering does water ruin leather. A little water spill won’t hurt leather but when left to dry, it may leave an unwanted stain. This usually happens with vegetable-tanned leather which we usually use on our products here at Steel Horse Leather. Simply, water ruins leather if you allow it to soak into the material without doing anything about it. So you have to act fast! Save yourself from spending hundreds of dollars at your local cleaners, and read the following tips from our Leather Experts to prevent water from ruining your leather.
1. Dry it.
Get a dry cloth, and gently soak the water away from the leather. After doing so, gently wipe off the excess water. Do not rub the leather vigorously, otherwise, it might leave unwanted scratches. Another important reminder to keep in mind is to let the material dry NATURALLY. Do not apply artificial heat, such as a blow dryer and other artificial heat sources, because it could easily damage the leather. Be patient and just air-dry it.
For a leather jacket, hang it on a wide hanger and air-dry. For wallets, make sure to close it while drying; otherwise, you will have difficulty in closing it if it hardens during the process. For leather shoes, bags, and other leather accessories like our The Wanderer Toiletry Bag, you could elevate it and stuff it with crumpled papers. This will help the leather retain its shape, and absorb the moisture from the inside.
2. Condition it.
After wiping off the excess water, apply a good quality leather conditioner on the material. A good quality leather conditioner contains nourishing ingredients that are easily absorbed by leather. The conditioner penetrates into the material, nourishes its fibers, and restores the leather’s suppleness and flexibility. Moreover, it seeps deep into the material and replenishes the lost moisture that was stripped away from water evaporation. This helps prevent the leather from cracking and other damages.
After conditioning, leave the conditioner on the leather overnight and let it work wonders into the leather. If there are still dry patches on your leather apparel, apply extra conditioner.
3. Buff It.
Once the conditioner has dried, carefully buff the entire surface of the product with a dry cloth.
Congratulations! You have successfully prevented water from further damaging your favorite leather apparel. However, taking care of your favorite leather apparel should not end there. You have to be prepared of protecting your leather apparel from future water damage. Our leather experts suggest a fourth step to prevent your leather apparel from getting wet and from damaging it easily.
4. Protect it.
Although some good quality leather conditioners already contain ingredients that protect the leather from water penetration, you can also opt to apply another layer of product such as beeswax cream. Beeswax cream contains properties that are dense and capable of spilling water.
After buffing the entire surface of your leather apparel, apply a layer of Beeswax cream. However, it is best to test a small patch before applying the product to the entire surface. This is because beeswax tends to cause a darkening effect that could possibly change the appearance of your leather. You should definitely take note of this especially when you own a light-colored leather accessory.
Follow these steps to protect your leather from getting wet:
- Make sure to clean the surface of the item to maximize the wax’s effectiveness.
- Put a small amount of wax onto a clean and dry cloth, and then apply it to the item. Do not apply the beeswax directly. You can repeat this step if necessary. Leave the wax on for about an hour, and let it air-dry. Do NOT use artificial heat.
- Once the was has totally dried, buff it with a clean and dry cloth.
You’re done! Leather is a durable and fantastic material, which at the same time needs tender leather loving care. The next time you are faced with a wet leather situation, stop asking yourself “Does water ruin leather?” because it does! Water ruins leather IF you allow it to happen. We hope our expert tips were able to help you.
For more expert tips on how to take care of your leather bags and accessories, read here.