How to Store Leather

Jon Fesmire | January 17, 2020 @ 9:00 AM

There’s a lot to love about leather. It looks good, it smells nice, it’s durable, and many great products are made from it. Leather also happens to be tricky to store.

However, as long as you clean it, treat it, and store it properly, it will remain in good condition for many years. Here’s how to do just that:

Cleaning Leather

It’s important to clean anything you plan to put into storage, and that goes doubly so for leather. While the material is durable, in some ways it’s also delicate. Bits of dirt, crumbs, skin oil, and the like can scratch and damage leather.

For leather clothing and handbags, clean out the pockets and pouches. For furniture, use a vacuum cleaner and its attachments for getting into crevices, or a hand vac, and vacuum between cushions and various nooks and crannies.

Next, purchase some leather cleaner, or make some at home. If you plan to go with the homemade cleaner, mix one part water with one part white vinegar. Dampen a cloth with the cleaner and rub down the leather item all over, then dry it with a fluffy, absorbent towel.

Conditioning Leather

Cleaning is just the first step in getting your leather items ready for storage. This is a material that requires conditioning from time to time. Purchase a leather conditioner, or make it yourself. If you purchase it at a store or online, get conditioner in a color close to that of whatever item you’re working on—don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be an exact color match. You can make homemade conditioner by mixing one part vinegar with two parts linseed oil.

Apply the leather conditioner to a soft cloth rather than directly onto the leather. Massage the conditioner into the leather with the cloth, like rubbing lotion on your skin. Finally, wipe off all excess conditioner with a clean microfiber towel.

If you can, clean and condition your leather items every four to six months.

Add Protection for Storage

Before you store your leather items you’ll want to make sure they’re covered to keep dust off them. For furniture, use blankets or any other coverings that breathe. Use coat bags for jackets. Do not store your leather items in plastic. If any moisture gets inside, mold or mildew can take hold. Don’t hang your leather clothes on metal hangers, as metal can react badly with the tanning agents. Use wooden hangers instead.

Store in Self Storage

We do not recommend storing leather items in a basement or attic; these environments are not climate controlled and can experience big shifts in temperature and humidity. Instead, get a self storage unit with climate control. Leather is best stored between 65 and 72 degrees at 55% humidity. It can do well at a bit higher temperatures and a bit lower, but if it gets too hot it can expand, and if it gets too cold it can contract, both of which can contribute to cracking. Climate control will keep the temperature and humidity in a safe range.

There are a variety of clothing racks for storage on the market, and we recommend using one for your jackets, corsets, and other leather clothing items. As for furniture, put some plastic sheets or wooden pallets on the floor, and put your furniture on top. This will protect your couches, chairs, and so on from the cold ground. Also, store your furniture the right way up, not on its side.

Remember to get the right unit size for everything you’re storing. If you’re storing some chairs, you may just need a 5x5 unit, while, if you’re storing a full leather furniture set as well as a rack of clothing, you may need a 10x15.

Finally, if you’re keeping your things in long-term storage, meaning for six months or more, we encourage you to check on them every few months. See if your leather items need conditioning again. This is a good time to check other items in storage that may need attention, too.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to keep your leather items in good shape, for a long time if need be, while in storage.

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