The recent heavy rains in Sydney (thanks, La Niña!) have left our homes and personal belongings rather damp. The wet weather coupled with the odd warm day has been ideal for mould and yeast spores to flourish. Low air circulation, high moisture in the air and warm days are perfect breeding conditions for mould and yeast to grow exponentially. One day everything seems fine; a couple of days later, everything is covered in mould!
Many people think that once a leather item like a bag or jacket has got a bit of mould on it, it’s ruined and needs to be chucked out. In actual fact, you can restore the leather to its former glory in a few easy steps. All you need is a bottle of white vinegar from the supermarket, a cotton cleaning cloth (an old t-shirt is ideal) and an artificial/synthetic chamois leather (you can buy this at large hardware shops). We also love to use a product by White Magic called Extra Power Sponge.
Here’s how you restore your mouldy leather:
Make a 1:1 mixture of white vinegar and warm water (1 cup white vinegar to 1 cup water). Dip the artificial chamois leather in the solution and wring it out so that it’s damp – not soaking wet. Wipe to clean the leather item inside and out, including the lining. You are trying to physically remove and destroy the mould spores, so use a firm rubbing motion. Make sure you rinse the chamois cloth in clean water every now and then and continue until the entire item has been cleaned. You might need to repeat the process if there’s a lot of mould.
You must let the item dry completely – this is very important. Put the item out on a sunny, windy day and let the wind work its magic. Or, you can put the item near a dehumidifier. Once you hang the item to dry, the vinegar smell will dissipate. The vinegar will both condition and clean the leather.
Nourish and protect your leather:
If you want to, you can moisturise the leather item using a nourishing leather ointment. We use a couple of products:
Keep the mould at bay:
To help stop the mould growth from happening again, you can use sachets of silicone beads which act as a desiccant. You’ve probably seen these silica gel desiccant packets whenever you buy something new. If you need them, you can buy them on eBay. Put these desiccant sachets in the pockets of your items to keep the mould at bay.
Hiding scuffs and scratches:
If you’ve got scuffs or scratches on the leather, a touch up should help, particularly if you buff the leather afterwards. Here are some other products we use:
Angelus leather paint & Waproo cream:
Use these products to touch up any corner scuffs with a fine paint brush. Get a few colours of this paint so that you can mix and match them until you get the exact shade you need. Do this in daylight so that you can match the colour properly.
Mod Podge is a PVA substance available in matt, satin or gloss finish. We mix a little bit of this with the leather paint to seal holes or scratches in the leather and then condition the whole item with a nourishing leather cream.
We hope these tips will keep your leather in tip-top condition, no matter the weather.
Psst! If you love leather goods, we have plenty of vintage and designer leather handbags, shoes and jackets in-store and online. Take a look here.