20 Mar 2017

Leather Care

I often get asked about how to care for leather, so I though a blog post on leather care would be a good idea.

There are three basic elements to caring for your leather toys:
1  Storage/Protection
2  Maintenance
3  Cleaning
If the first two items are done well, then the third item should not be needed very often.

Something important to know is which type of leather your toy is made from, more specifically, how the leather has been tanned (tanning is the process used to change animal skins into leather).  Generally there are two types of leather used:
1  Chrome Tanning - noted for producing thinner and softer leather and is pre-dyed and finished.  Chrome tanned leather most often has fixed color and needs less maintenance, it will also not age and weather, but is also more susceptible to damage and tearing.
2  Vegetable Tanning - noted for thicker and stiffer leather and can be dyed and finished as desired.  Vegetable tanned leather will change color with age, exposure to sunlight, dirt, oils; etc. will weather the leather giving it a 'vintage' look.  The leather is more resistant to damage and can be custom colored, but does need more care and maintenance.
I custom dye/color and finish all of my leather, so I always use vegetable tanned leather.  This does mean more maintenance is required, but I feel that vegetable leather is a superior material to chrome leather.


1. Storage/Protection
Storing your leather toys in a place with low humidity and away from water will help your leather last longer.  Moist and wet environments will encourage mold growth, and if leather stays wet too long it can break down the fibers in the leather.
If your leather does get wet, then dry it out naturally (don't put in front of a heater or fire, this will damage the leather) then apply maintenance to the leather.

Don't keep leather in direct sunlight; the UV light can darken the leather (sunlight will give leather a sun tan!).
I have also found that if leather is kept too dry or in sunlight, it can become dry and stiff, this can be helped with maintenance, but stiff leather can suffer stress cracks and breaks.

I like to keep my leather toys in a bag or a drawer with a few packets of silica beads (the type you find in new shoe boxes or some clothes packages) to keep the humidity lower.


2. Maintenance
There are two types of maintenance that should be applied to your leather toys.  After use, and Infrequent.

After use:
This depends on how you use your toys, and is more about playing safe than protecting the leather.
If you use your toys on multiple people, I recommend wiping each toy with antibacterial wipes between people.  This reduces the possibility of something being transferred from one person to another.


Now not all toys need the same amount of cleaning, e.g.
   A spanking paddle will need a quick wipe due to the flat - easy to clean spanking surface and the contact area (e.g. ass) it is used on.
   A 9-tail whip will need a good cleaning due to its many surface areas and it's ability to get into more areas of the body when it's used.
   Handcuffs generally need little cleaning due to the area of the body they are used on, unless a person has a skin condition or wound in that area that should be accounted for.
   Masks need a good clean, on all surfaces.  Breathing through the mouth and nose can spread a lot of contaminants on a leather mask, and the potential transfer of eye or ear infections is best avoided.
For the safest play, one toy for one person is best, and after use cleaning is still recommended.
It's worth noting that the alcohol from the antibacterial wipes will dry out and damage the leather, meaning that the amount of infrequent maintenance you do needs to increase!

Infrequent:
This can happen as often as needed and depending on the storage conditions of your leather.  I personally do this once or twice every 6 months.

I recommend Mink Oil; I use this to finish all of my leatherwork.
Simply rub it onto your toy with a clean cloth, and then buff it off with a second clean cloth.  Additional applications can be made.


If using antibacterial wipes a lot, I suggest re-working the leather toys with Mink Oil more frequently. This will help to keep the leather soft and supple.


3.  Cleaning
To properly clean leather, I use a special soap called Saddle soap.

Using a clean damp cloth, rub the cloth on the soap to make a foam.  Then rub the foam onto the leather.  After cleaning the leather with the foam, use a clean dry cloth to buff and polish the soap from the leather.
If desired, a coat of mink oil can be applied after letting the leather dry properly.


There are leather-cleaning kits available in some stores that are sold to clean items like leather furniture or leather clothes.  I don't use these products, as they are better for cleaning Chrome leather not the Vegetable leather that I use to make toys.

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