Skip to content

Low meat leather maintenance?

2011 September 12
by sampablokuper

There are some good reasons to be circumspect about buying leather, but even the matter of maintaining leather goods you already own can be one of concern for the low meat consumer.

The maintenance of leather isn’t terribly different from the maintenance of healthy human skin, and usually involves cleaning it – if appropriate – and applying an emollient to help keep it moist and supple. (Note: these processes can sometimes alter the apparent colour or finish of the leather, and if you are concerned about this, please seek specialist advice from someone who works with leather for a living.) The emollient may need to be a little more penetrating and harder-wearing than a moisturiser designed for living skin, depending upon the kind of leather and how it has been tanned and finished, but it serves a similar purpose.

Vegetarian soaps are readily available, including some sold as “oil soap” especially for leather. What about emollients, though?

Two of the most popular emollients for maintaining leather are mink oil and neatsfoot oil, but both are made from the remains of dead animals. Lanolin, is also popular, but although lanolin is usually harvested non-lethally (since it comes from wool), it does have the disadvantage of being allergenic in some cases.

Fortunately, there are plant-based alternatives readily available. Some folks advocate the use of olive oil or glycerin. I’ve recently started using jojoba oil for this – which has no contra-indications – since I had some to hand and since jojoba oil, being a wax, struck me as being less likely to become rancid. The only catch is that you need to work it in gently with your thumbs: your body temperature, and the small amount of friction, warms and thins the oil, allowing it to penetrate better into the grain of the leather. So far, so good: it has rejuvenated an elaborately tanned leather belt that was given to me as a gift, and I shall be trying it on other items in future!

If anyone reading this has recommendations to make about vegetarian leather maintenance techniques, please share them in the comments.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS