Leather products are very popular around the globe. At any given time, the typical consumer has at least four leather products on their person. This can include footwear and belts. The value of American leather belts that were shipped equalled a about $92 million in 2009. In 2007, more than 23 billion square feet of leather were made. That is a lot of leather!
When you want to take care of your leather belts or other fine leather goods, the first step is to determine if you have real or imitation leather. Because leather products are so popular, the market has been flooded with imitation leather for sale. There are ways to tell if your leather products are real or not.
Real leather totes and leather belts will have irregular pores and lines. There is usually an odor that comes along with real leather products that you do not get with imitation and synthetic leather goods. The feel is often much softer with real leather goods than with the imitators. The better the leather, the more smooth and soft it will be. Imitation leather is often hard and not as smooth or soft. Real leather clothing and leather backpacks are more absorbent. If you expose it to water drops, the leather will absorb the liquid, whereas the synthetic materials will not.
Once you have determined that your leather belts are real, genuine leather, there are things you can do to keep it looking its best. This will also extend the lifespan of your leather clothing and other products. Leather belts, in particular, may be vulnerable to some wear and tear that may not be as much of an issue for other leather products.
Proper maintenance tips for leather belts:
- Store your leather belts in a dry place.
- Keep your belts in a spot that is safe from any pests like insects or rodents.
- Use oils to keep your leather belts moisturized. You can use cooking oil to maintain your leather.
- Place some oil on a cotton cloth that is clean and rub the leather with that.
- Do not expose your belt to sharp objects or too much friction.
- Do not leave your belt in a place where it will be subjected to direct sun exposure. This will age the leather and shorten the lifespan.
- Avoid exposing your belts to harsh cleaners or other chemicals.
- Keep the buckle clean. Use a dry cloth or rag to clean the belt buckle.
- Make sure you hands are clean when you handle your leather belts. Leather is vulnerable to taking in oils and grease. Every six months you should clean your belts and use a protectant to protect it from stains and water damage.
You can clean your leather belts at home. You will need either Castile soap or saddle soap, clean cloth rags or cloths, castor oil and some dry cleaning fluid.
When you use Castile soap:
Take a clean cotton cloth or rag and dampen it with lukewarm water. Wring it out to remove any excess water. Take the damp cloth or rag and rub some Castile soap onto it. If you are not sure where to get this kind of soap, it is sold at most discount stores or your local pharmacy. The primary ingredients are either olive oil or vegetable oil. This is a very gentle soap. Briskly rub your leather item with the cloth or rag. Take a second cloth or rag that is also damp, but free of any soap, and wipe off the dirt and soap. Repeat until you get the results you are looking for.
When you use saddle soap:
You can restore your leather to looking pretty close to how it looked when you first bought it with saddle soap. Take a damp cloth or rag and apply some saddle soap. Take the cloth or rag and rub down the entire belt. You should get the dirt off with a clean and damp cloth or rag that is damp.
Remove stains with dry cleaning fluid:
Use a cloth or rag that has been dipped in the dry cleaning fluid to remove any stains. Finish any treatment or cleaning of your leather belts with some castor oil. This will condition your belts and keep them from drying out and aging prematurely.