Leather care for collars, cuffs, floggers, and whips.
The smell is deeply earthy and slightly intoxicating. The feel is strong, sometimes buttery soft and sometimes stiffly unyielding. It can subdue, caress, sting, and massage. Leather is a full-bodied sensory experience.
Leather is also very durable, making it a sound investment. Life can be delightfully messy, though. How do we take care of our investment?
Taking care of leather
The recommendations below are what I have found useful. The methods for taking care of leather are as varied as the people who work with leather. Please use whatever method works for you. Also, leather care products are plentiful and many of them are very good; I am only mentioning those that I have worked with and that I like.
Proper storage is the first step in caring for leather goods. Storage containers should allow the leather to breathe; avoid air-tight containers for permanent storage (temporary short term storage in an air-tight container should be fine). Please keep in mind rodents (and dogs) are attracted to leather and keep them out of reach. Floggers and dragon-tails should hang by their handle so the falls hang straight. A second best is to lay them flat, again leaving the falls straight. Single-tails (traditional whips) are more forgiving (in terms of storage…) and should either hang straight or loosely coiled, or even lay flat loosely coiled. Finally, all storage locations should be dry and relatively cool.
Now that storage is sorted, the next concern is usually how pre-treat your leather. Generally speaking, leather does not need any pre-treatment. If you want to soften a flogger or dragons-tail or single-tail, beat it against a pillow (recommended for suede as the pillow will protect the suede texture), or a pole or something similar. Flogger handles can be treated as described below, but do not treat the falls of a flogger. A single-tail can be oiled using the products mentioned below.
If you want to soften a collar or cuffs, apply a sparing amount of olive oil or a leather conditioner such as Bick 4 or Lexol. Neatsfoot oil will work, but it can be sticky. Any of the oils can darken the leather. Mink Oil will both soften and waterproof, but it will also darken the leather significantly (can give a nice, dark, rich color as well). If the collar/cuffs/leash (any heavy leather) are not lined, a touch of olive oil rubbed into the raw side will work nicely, then “work” the leather (gently roll in your hands, very lightly twist without pulling). Please note that any product used on leather has the potential to alter the leather, either by staining or by making it darker. Using a product sparingly tends to give the best results.
Sometimes the leather needs cleaning. Floggers need special treatment, especially if they are suede. A suede cleaner is not recommended: it compresses the nap on the suede. If the suede falls get body fluids on them, blot the wet areas and allow the falls to dry naturally. If further sanitation is needed, set the falls out in the sunlight (sunlight kills the bacteria). If the nap becomes compressed, rub falls on both sides with a stiff brush to restore the texture.
If cuffs/collars need cleaning, clean with mild soap and water using a damp cloth, wipe and let air dry. Be careful not to saturate the leather. While mild soap is fine, saddle soap is a good product to help protect the leather while cleaning it.
Damage control, we all need it at some point. What if the leather has developed stains? Use a pencil eraser on dry stains. White vinegar can be used as a last resort as the vinegar itself can stain leather.
Before you go ….
This is just a basic guide, and there are different thoughts on how to take care of leather. The methods outlined above are simply what I have found to work most reliably. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Below is a link to my leather shop on Etsy; I welcome custom orders.
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