Leather Left Out in Rain!

Leather left out and drenched in rain

Leather Left Out in Rain!

I’ve got good news for you if you didn’t get a white Christmas this year. This blog was written for you, drenched head to foot in perpetual rainfall, and not a snowflake to be seen. In your rush to the door, you dropped your priceless leather handbag on the concrete to soak in the storm cloud’s tears. Now it’s drenched, and ruined, and you can’t even look at it anymore. Yikes!

Sorry to rain on your gloom parade, but tossing out perfectly good wet leather isn’t just tragic. It’s an avoidable tragedy (just like Romeo & Juliet). Here’s some handy tips for bringing your one true love back from its watery grave.

Bring it Inside

Get your leather out of the rain. This is less important if it’s a sunny day outside. While UV radiation is harmful to everything, a cozy spot in the shade with a little cool wind is actually an ideal place for leather to rid itself of extra moisture. Otherwise, keep your leather in cool, clean areas away from direct heat.

Caution with the Blow Dryer

Why should the leather not be exposed to direct heat? It’s pretty simple. You’re not going to keep a blow dryer aimed at your face for several hours at a time – those things get hot! So why would you do the same to your leather? Actually, blow dryers are pretty useful for quick drying – just make sure the leather isn’t getting too hot, or it will begin to shrink. Aside from that, heat in general tends to degrade the fibers holding your leather together, greatly reducing their lifespan. Use heat carefully. Before you pull out this hotrod, however, try to …

Dab with Cloth

Ideally, you will do this first. If your leather is wet, grab a soft, lint-free cloth and dab up as much water as you can. It’s important that you don’t wipe here, lest you be rubbing the moisture further in. Set your leather down on a towel or other absorbent surface, and work your way around until you’ve removed as much moisture as you can. Then let it dry. Change the leather’s position often to allow consistent air circulation.

Stuff Your Leather with Newspapers (just not the funnies)

It’s weird, right? All that chaotic humbug can finally do something for YOU for a change. And it comes with the ever so satisfying feeling of cramming all that global financial crisis rubbish down a dark, dank hole, never to haunt you again. If you’re short on newspapers, packing paper or other absorbent materials will do. Whether it’s a bag, a shoe, a purse or wallet, it’s just as important to pull water from the inside as the outside. Leather’s unique properties allow moisture to pass through its fibers to an area of lesser humidity, making it fantastic for clothing when you plan to get sweaty. Unfortunately, this also means that water can leak to the inside of your bag if it’s not properly protected. So it’s safe to say that pulling water out from either end is a good idea.

Baking Soda

One of Grannie’s secret recipes. Just a spoonful of baking soda, talcum powder, corn starch or the like pulls water out just like your towel, and often times more effectively. Sprinkle your magic dust of choice over the leather and let it set overnight. If the powder turns yellow in the morning, you pulled stuff out. Good job! Brush the old powder off and keep the cycle going until it’s all gone!

Clean & Condition

If baking soda doesn’t do it, then there’s a tried and true formula I like to call “Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment No. 1” and “Straight Cleaner No. 2!”

Here’s the deal. Whenever you’re leather gets wet, the danger’s not about your leather drowning to death. The real danger is letting it dry to death. When you go swimming, you ever recall how your hands wrinkled up like raisins after a while? When you came up out of the water, they felt really dry, and you probably felt the urge to plunge them right back in. Hope you didn’t, because the water you’ve been swimming in has been stealing all the oils in your skin that keep it supple and lubricated. After a while, our body restores those oils naturally. Leather, which is no longer alive, cannot replace its oils.

That’s what conditioner is for. Leather conditioners like Leather Milk are enriched with vital oils and nutrients that keep leather healthy. Whenever leather starts to get a rough or wrinkly texture, it’s probably time to feed it some more. This is doubly the case after it’s gotten wet. However, don’t give the Milk while your leather is still wet. Conditioner not only acts as a lubricant – it’s also a protector, keeping more water from passing through leather’s pores whether it’s true to pass in or travel back out. Moisture caught inside your leather can rot, which is bad. Wait for your leather to dry sufficiently, then use your leather conditioner.

If blemishes show up, like water stains, leather cleaners is your best bet to remove them. Alcohol bases are your best bet, but it’s always best to test first. When you clean, you are robbing your leather of its oils all over again. A consistent cycle of cleaning and conditioning will help strike a nice balance between pulling debris and substances out of your leather while ensuring it’s kept supple and soft.

That’s About It

Other than that, keep your leather conditioned and protected for the next rainfall, and keep the benevolent eye out. Feel the texture. Watch the surface for blemishes or changes in color or pattern. Keep the dust off. It’s pretty routine, actually. Pull the bad stuff out, put the good stuff back in. Rinse and repeat. You got the hang of it. Until next time, and hey.

Happy New Year!

Daniel Sutton