How do I treat leathers?
Advice handed to me about leather care. It seems to work for me, but
if you wreck your gear I will deny all responsibility!
- use a leather food if it gets at all dry. May well be
dry from being in a showroom. Don't bother with
'waterproofing' stuff (e.g. Nikwax), as (a) if you want
them to last,
you should really wear waterproofs in the wet anyway,
(b) if the waterproofing is any good, it will 'seal' the
leather and you can't feed it properly after that, and
(c) well conditioned leather repels a bit of moisture
- If you are going to wear your leathers in the rain without
waterproofs, then you will probably want to use Nikwax or
a similar waterproofer. This is not best but better than
getting the leather soaked! Some people reckon Nikwax rots
the stitching; others say it only does this if you put it
onto damp leather, as it then seals the moisture in which
is a very bad idea... the latter opinion makes most sense
- these take a lot of stick, so need some heavy duty stuff
on them! When new, put on lots of LIQUID Nikwax. Put
on a little at a time, leaving for a fw hours between.
Keep going until the leather won't soak up any more. Then
let them dry off a bit (till the surface isn't "wet"),
and give them a good coat of SOLID Nikwax. Periodically
go over again with the solid Nikwax - 2 or 3 times per
winter maybe. Don't use liquid Nikwax again, as this
softens the leather, which isn't desirable for boots.
- This will make the boots look a bit scabby, but they should
repel just about anything, so long at the stitching holds
up! Stitching will stretch eventually, and solid Nikwax
can seal it quite well, but won't be perfect on old boots.
- For 'flash' race boots (well they're mostly non-leather
these days anyway), I wouldn't do this, for apperance sake!
I'd probably use a light coat of liquid Nikwax infrequently.
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This is what "What Bike?" reckon you should do with your leathers...
Leather garments claiming to be waterproof have a water resistant
membrane between leather and lining. The leather outer will still get
wet and needs the same treatment os ordinary leather gear.
- Only treat leather when it feels dry or stiff. Over feeding with
hide food can weaken it.
- Treat leather after use in wet weather, once it has dried
- Never hang wet leather over radiators or near a fire to dry
quickly. It'sthe fastest route to crack damage.
- Make sure the cleaning/polishing product is suitable for the
garment. Don't use boot polish on jackets, it's designed for stiffer
leather. Don't overdo oil on your boots, it'll soften the leather too
much and soak into your socks.
- Never use a detergent soap, it destroys the natural oils. Always
use a proper leather soap.
- White leather jackets and boots look great in the showroom but are
impossible to keep clean.
- Use warm water to wash leather but don't saturate the garment.
- Use a soft brush or anti-scratch sponge which will not damage the
- Use a leather dressing/dubbin before a final polish. Applying
polish to leather that's been repeatedly soaked and quick dried is like
trying to cure corrosion by painting over the top.
- Several light applications of dressing are better than one heavy
- Leather breathes through its pores. It can never be made totally
Soap (to clean jackets and gloves)
Dressings (to preserve jackets and gloves)
- Belvoir Glycerine Leather and Saddle Soap
Waterproofers (mainly for boots)
- Nikwax Liquid
- Vanner and Priest Neatsfoot Compound
- Dynamic Renovator
- Chelsea Leather Food/Dubbin
- Mars Leather Wax Waterproofer
They tested everything they knew about, which is most definitely not
everything on the market (I've seen a few bottles of stuff they didn't
Testing was done by a female, who seemed to want everything to look
shiny, which is probably what a lot of bikers do not want!
The Nikwax stuff seems to be much more widely available than
I can remember seeing a bottle of Neatsfoot liquid somewhere and
there was a bigwarning on the battle that you should net let it come
into contact with your skin/eyes/etc. Sounds like nasty stuff.
This page last updated 18/09/02