3 Ways to Give Old Leather a New Life

How to maintain one of the best materials on Earth with cleaners, conditioners, and preservatives

Brown leather bag in woods
Leather can have a seemingly never-ending lifespan if you take care of it.Harsh Jadav/Unsplash

Leather products define the outdoor lifestyle. From hunting boots to cartridge belts, slings, game bags, luggage, and truck interiors—tanned animal hides surround us. It is also highly bio-degradable, and as such needs regular attention to maximize its lifespan. Here are a few things to consider when it comes time to polish up the leatherwork.

Clean and Condition

Leather Honey Conditioner
Before you breathe new life into leather, clean it first.Leather Honey

Good leather maintenance doesn't simply mean a periodic wipe-down with any old conditioner. For really dirty jobs, the first step is to prepare the surface with a quality leather cleaner. After the cleaner finishes its work, you're ready to rejuvenate it with a leather conditioner.

Oils, Beeswax, and Silicone

Obenaufs Heavy Duty Leather Conditioner
Consult the leather manufacturer for a recommended conditioner.Obenauf's

Some leather conditioners are oil-based, while others rely on natural solids like beeswax, and still others incorporate silicone as the waterproofing agent. Leather processing can be complicated, spanning a variety of methods ranging from vegetable to chemical and even brain tanning. As a result, there are many types of leather, each of which may have its own preferred conditioner base. Consult the manufacturer of your product to determine which type of conditioner is best for your item.

Crack Repair

Chamberlains leather milk conditioner
A balm can keep leather crack free.Chamberlain's Leather Milk

Just like your skin begins to crack from weathering, leather shows age and stress in the form of splits that can eventually become tears. A good leather-repair balm will work wonders to rejuvenate even the craggiest pair of gloves, belts, boots, or any other neglected leather item.