6 steps to caring for leather

6 steps to caring for leather

So, you’ve treated yourself to a handsome new set of luggage, and you’re looking forward to using them on your travels. But to ensure that your bags stand the test of time, you’ll need to invest a little effort into treating them right.

1. Use protection

Think back to your childhood and the annual shoe shop pilgrimage for “proper” school footwear. You may recall the shop assistant trying to upsell protector creams to your parents (don’t all kitchen cupboards contain a few of these unloved cans?). Turns out, they were absolutely correct, and here’s why.

As an organic product, leather can be affected by the elements – heat, water and strong sunlight can all cause damage to this otherwise highly durable material. Using a good quality leather protector can help to prolong the life of your luggage by coating the surface in a moisture-repellent layer, keeping everything supple. Many brands sell their own proprietary creams and sprays, however if you prefer to keep things natural then a neutral beeswax-based cream, such as Stone’s Leather Preservative and Polish does the job very well. 

2. Weather the storm

GILBANO bags are all water-resistant, so unless you’re literally dunking your bags in water, you should be good to go, however it’s worth noting that as a natural material, leather is water-permeable and so can never be entirely waterproof. If you’re unlucky enough to be caught in a downpour, gently dab the surface moisture away with kitchen towel, then stuff with balled-up paper to preserve the bag’s shape. Allow to air-dry at room temperature. Never use direct heat, such as fan heaters or hairdryers, as this can shrink and distort the structure of the bag, leaving your leather stiff. 

3. Clean up your act

Avoid damaging the bag’s surface by removing any dirt gently with gentle circular motions using a soft, slightly damp cloth. With very few exceptions, soaps and chemical cleansers should be avoided as these can lift dyes, causing discolouration and a patchy finish. One cleanser that does pass muster is saddle soap, such as this all-natural version by Otter Wax. This traditional blend of castile soap, beeswax and essential oils was originally created for polishing and preserving riding tack, but also works effectively on leather accessories and furnishings. As with any topical leather additive, GILBANO always recommend testing products on a hidden section of your bag before applying all over.

4. Scratch and stick

Deep scratches on leather are hard to treat, meaning that acceptance may be your best course of action, however lighter scuffs can often be disguised by gently buffing with a small amount of neutral-coloured leather polish and a soft duster. Try to bear in mind that, while scrapes can be frustrating, over time they add character to your leather, with each mark telling its own unique tale.

Wherever possible, avoid attaching airline bag tags and stickers as the adhesive used typically marks leather. Our YORK passport holder elegantly solves this problem by incorporating a plastic card to which you can attach your tags, swerving annoying residue on both your bags and your passport.

5. Everyday care

When it comes to low-level maintenance of your luggage, a quick wipe down with a duster or soft-bristled brush is all you need to bring out the leather’s natural lustre. Making this into a regular routine will ensure that your bags remain beautiful and weather well for years to come. 

6. Bag it up

Once your journey is over, store your bag with care and, like its owner, it will be ready to travel at a moment’s notice. As we mentioned above, leather is a permeable material, so never store it in plastic as this can make it vulnerable to mould and mildew, particularly in humid climates. A cloth bag is ideal for keeping dust at bay while letting your luggage breathe.