Leather Conditioner Applicator Types

Leather Conditioner Applicator: Microfiber or Terrycloth?

Leather Conditioner Applicator Types

There’s a misconception that leather conditioners and cleaners can be rubbed into leather by just about anything in a laundry basket. While this is technically true, it’s not the best way to do it. The abrasive and lint-ridden qualities of many fabrics have left many leather-loving enthusiasts scratching their heads in bewilderment as their five star leather treatments left their beautiful leather smeared or darkened, and they’ve no clue how it got that way. You have to begin with the right tools.

The two primary classes of acceptable leather conditioner applicator fall into two categories: microfiber and terry cloth. Both are quite useful for their own purposes. If you have purchased Chamberlain’s Leather Milk before, you received a cotton terry leather conditioner applicator pad with your bottle. Both of these are fashioned to be lint-free, which is important when treating leather. Each of them also have unique perks that will aid you in your leather restoration. Let me give you the run down.

Here’s the Rub

Microfiber cloth is a fairly new invention in the leather conditioner applicator biz compared to terry cloth. It is a highly intricate material that first arrived in markets during the 1970s. The name derives from extremely thin fibers that give microfiber cloth it’s make. We’re talking a hundred times smaller than human hair “extremely thin,” just so we’re on the same page. This stuff weaves together countless strands to form a soft, silky cloth with remarkable durability, absorption and filtering capacity. In addition, it’s pretty lightweight, has an almost magnetic attraction to dust (making dusting a bit easier), and has a natural resistance to staining and wrinkles. Handy tool.

Terry cloth, in contrast, has a different sort of make, and has been around a lot longer, first invented in early 1840s in France out of silk. It’s evolved a bit since, and has a starkly different philosophical outlook on leather treatment enough to put Descartes and Locke’s little old squabbles to shame. Unlike most other materials that get weaker around water, cotton’s absorbent superpowers make it stronger when it gets wet. It can absorb large amounts of water without needing to drain, and endures the harrowing rigors of the rub, twist and tug without breaking a sweat. It’s the indomitable powerhouse of the leather cleaning world, and terry cloth isn’t afraid to boast about that. It also makes a really mean beach towel.

Both of these fabrics clearly have their strong points. And if you plan to ask me which is better – don’t. Which leather conditioner applicator you should use depends on your type of leather and how you’re going to use it.

A Matter of Integrity

Chamberlain’s Leather Milk opted to ship the terry leather conditioner applicator with their recipes because a large number of it’s audience use it for Saddleback leather. Saddleback uses a type of leather known as full grain, which is the toughest, thickest, most natural hide you’re going to encounter. You can probably see why terry cloth seems particularly suited for the task. Terry cloth’s firm and penetrating touch allows it to pull out debris jammed much deeper inside leather, and pull it all back out again. It can withstand a greater variety of leather textures, which is a good thing – when you’re dealing with natural leather, things can get really abrasive, and you need a good grasp of your cloth to get the job done right.

Softer leather, on the other hands, with shallow pores, may not need the long reach of terry cloth’s mammoth limbs. Indeed, the kind of pressure people often apply with a terry leather conditioner applicator may end up forcing more leather conditioner into the soft leather’s pores than is healthy for it, and may darken as a result. The gentle and flexible approach of microfiber, however, may be just what the doctor ordered. Suede and microfiber are totally soul mates like that.

Cut from Different Cloths

That’s not to say that all tough leather should use terry leather conditioner applicator and all soft leather should use microfiber. While this is a handy principle, there are always exceptions; both terry cloth and microfiber are safe to use to clean and condition any type of leather. There are simply different advantages to using either one. The most important rule of all is to get to know your own leather. Not one single strip of leather is like another – they are all unique. If you want to learn the best way to treat your own, you need to use it. Take it out with you, condition it, flex it. Safe experimentation (ie: testing leather treatments) and exercise under the sun are your leather’s first and last names. (Just don’t spend allow leather too much time under the sun – UV rays hurt.) You get the idea. A little love goes a long way.

Peace, leathermancers.

Daniel Sutton

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