Leather exudes luxury, epitomizes toughness. Like fine wine and cheese, leather can get better with age if cared for properly. Here’s what you should consider when caring for your leather goods and deciding whether to go it alone or ask a pro.

Do you know the type of leather?

Do you know if the leather is protected or unprotected? If you’re not sure which type of leather you have, your safest bet is enlisting a professional. If you do know, you might be able to treat spills, spots, and stains on your own. Just remember unprotected leather requires a gentler touch as it’s more sensitive to getting stained or scratched. Less and milder are more when it comes to leather. If you opt to DIY, be sure to test out any products on a hidden surface before moving forward with a full treatment.

Do you have the care and cleaning instructions?

Maybe you scored a James Dean-worthy bomber jacket at a vintage store, but the cleaning tags were illegible or nonexistent. If you’re not sure about the kind of leather or how to care for it, ask a pro. If you do have the care instructions, be sure to read and abide by them. If you have a warranty on a leather item but try a non-approved home remedy you found online, you could inadvertently void the warranty. Avoid anything caustic like ammonia or bleach.

What’s the scale and scope of the stain? 

Is the stain brand new? Is it small? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, you may be able to do a spot clean yourself. Often a damp microfiber cloth alone or with mild soap may eradicate a small spot on protected leather. But if the stain is set in, fairly large or difficult to remove, leave it to a professional so you don’t accidentally cause more damage.

The best offense is a good defense

Keeping leather soft and supple and away from direct light and heat will help prevent drying and cracking. You may want to add a protectant or condition the leather periodically. Avoid any products that contain silicone or wax, which can cause sticky build-up. With items like a jacket or skirt, be sure to properly hang them as folding leather can cause it to crack. Avoid wire or clip hangers and opt instead for wide or padded hangers.

Bottomline: When in doubt, seek a pro

Even if you’re an at-home leather cleaning maven, you’ll still want to have your leather professionally cleaned once a year to help extend its lifespan. A professional will know the correct process and products to use and can repair any cracks or discoloration and remove stains properly. Oceanside offers specialized cleaning services for leather, suede, and footwear.