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Exotic Leather Series: Lizard Leather Care

Exotic Leather Series: Lizard Leather Care

Posted by Daniel Sutton on Jun 1st 2014

Hello, mate! Grab your Indiana Jones hat and a cheesy Australian accent, because today we’re going to be talking about lizards!

I’m not going to spend too much time selling this type of leather, because clearly these creatures are the closest thing we’ve got to real dinosaurs, and I think that’s all that really needs to be said. When you’re dealing with lizard skin, you’re going to have a wide canvas of wild and florid patterns and colors to choose between, and a leaping plethora exotic creatures, such as snakes and crocodiles, to make your base. You can't deny this leather's attraction. The bright blaze against slick scales catches the eye better than a leering snake, scaling over a proud, distinctive, and feral quality truly unique among leathers. That, and lizard skin is pretty darn tough.

Magic Scales

Lizard leather scales are remarkably water proof, and provide excellent protection from the elements. Pesky stains shan’t be nearly as much of a threat to lizard skin as to other leathers, although this shouldn’t be your cue to take it for granted. Those scales are rooted in place by a well lubricated membrane beneath them, which they are charged with protecting. Should that membrane dry up, the scales can pop off, which really doesn’t bode well for the aesthetics. Try not to take lizard leather out under excessive weather conditions, such as rain. If it does get wet, just blot up the moisture with a dry, clean cloth or paper towel. Blot, mind you, don’t wipe. Wipe smears, and blot absorbs – the latter is your friend. If the leather is lighter in hue, it may darken with excess water, so try to take care of it sooner rather than later. You can read more about how water affects leather in our blog “How Does Leather Breathe?

Speaking of water, it’s also going to be important to clean your lizard leather. For a regular spot clean, snag a soft, slightly damp cloth (only slightly, lest the water run off the scales and into the membrane), and wipe the scales until all visible dust is removed. When you do this, you will want to wipe in the direction the scales are flowing. If you aren’t sure how to verify this, a good trick is to run your finger softly across the leather in a straight line. If the skin feels rough, you’re running the wrong way. The skin should feel smooth to the touch as you slide your finger. If you spot dirt building up in the grooves, you can try to use a soft, bristled brush (an artist’s paintbrush is ideal) to get it out. Be very careful not to lift the scales. Once they come off, they will be unable to be returned to place.

Bubble Time

You may want to give your lizard skin a more thorough cleaning every so often, especially if it’s grown excessively dirt. Use a non-alcoholic, wax free leather cleaner designed for exotic reptile leather, and test it before you work it on. Gently sample a small amount in a discreet area of your leather with a white, lint-free cloth. Check the cloth for excess color rub off, discoloration in the lizard skin, or any other side effects. If none are present, you’re good to go. Apply your leather conditioner much the same way as you did with the spot clean – wipe gently in the direction of the scales, brush between them with a sable paintbrush, and absorb any residual moisture with a clean cloth afterwards. Let it dry in a cool, indoors area away from sunlight and direct heat. Sunlight and heat are harmful for lizard leather care, as they can dry out your leather fast and may shrink it. Reptiles are cold blooded, you'll remember. Keep them in a cool room, and you’ll feel terribly clever about yourself. Those "inside" jokes are the best.

Thing about cleaning – once you have used a leather cleaner, it’s going to take away the lubricants that held your leather together. As a result, the leather’s pores have opened up to receive more oils, and if they don’t get them, they’re going to dry out. To this end, good lizard leather care dictates that a proper conditioning is in order. Depending on how much dirt it’s exposed to and how often you apply a leather cleaner, you probably won’t have to do this too much. If you clean and condition your lizard leather twice a year (condition your leather very soon after you clean it), you should be good most of the time. Play it by ear, and pay attention to your leather. If it shows signs that it’s drying up, bring out your conditioner, and remember to clean it first.

Spit and Polish

When you get ready to condition your lizard leather, make sure you are using a conditioner designed for exotic reptile leather. These conditioners possess a lighter composition and different viscosity than standard leather conditioners, and will be much healthier for your lizard. Try to make sure it’s wax and silicon free too – silicon has a tendency to dry leather out, and wax often has the effect of obscuring the iridescent quality that gives lizard leather its glimmer. Test your conditioner the same way you did your cleaner, and if it checks out, use a soft, clean cloth or brush to massage it in the direction of the scales, and let it dry for about fifteen minutes. Afterwards, buff the rest off – again in the direction of the scales – until any residue is gone. Stand back and admire the shine.

Note: Reptile leather is often laminated over a layer of cowhide. If this is present on your leather item, treat the cowhide as you would traditional leather (if you don't know how to treat or identify your cowhide, click here for more information on that), but take care not to get any of your cowhide leather treatments on the lizard leather. If you are in an area with increased weather exposure, you may also want to apply a water and stain protector to your lizard leather while you’re at it. Go with something non-silicon, and spray works best. Make sure it’s meant for exotic reptile leather care, and test before using.

Lounging Lizards

Finally, to keep your lizard leather in good condition, try to store it in the aforementioned cool, clean, indoors location away from sunlight and direct heat. Inside of a breathable container works best, like a wooden box or a dust bag. Try not to put things on top of it to avoid stress, and keeping it in stuffed in newspapers or packing paper, which are more porous than leather, can help keep it strong.

That’s all the basics you’ll need to know about lizard leather care! Remember to take good care of your leather, and it may go on to outlive you! If these little buggers can thrive where the dinosaurs went extinct, imagine how legendary that leather wallet of yours can be. Even past death, they live on, their hide fending off the merciless elements and protecting your greens with ferocious, pointy scaled ferocity. For what they lack in size, these tiny dragons more than make up for in gut. Give’em a chance, and they’ll show you what a real survivor looks like.

Daniel Sutton

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