Wednesday, August 02, 2017

How to Get Scratches and Stains Out of Leather

I'm a HUGE fan of vegetable-tanned leather.  It's the stuff of Madewell bags, and it burnishes into a distinctive patina over time.

I'm a bit of a collector of these bags, and so--when I get a scratch or stain on one--I kinda freak out.

But experience has taught me two fun tricks of the trade in keeping this type of leather looking good.  And today, I'm happy to share them with you.  :)

Last month, when my 2-year-old daughter had a temper tantrum while we were on a walk to get breakfast downtown, she started wailing her arms at me and clawed at my bag like a lion.

The result was several bright blonde streaks that glared boldly on my formerly sleek, brown bag.  It took every ounce of my being to scold her only for her misbehavior and not for damaging my favorite handbag.

Since the day ahead of us was going to be long and out-of-the-house, all I could do was (1) pray hard, and (2) touch my bag's wounds repeatedly with my palms, desperately hoping that the natural oils of my skin might soothe the distressed skin cells of the leather into laying flat again.

With the heat of July, my frequent hand-touching made those scratches disappear completely!  I was astounded.  They have not come back and there is absolutely no way for the naked eye to identify where those scratches were, even when looking at the surface from every angle.  I wish I had taken a "before" picture because you'd never believe the transformation that my bag took.  Thank you, God, for your mercy!

And now for my second leather care discovery that I made that day...

Earlier that day, when I reached for the bag before we left the house, I was disappointed to notice a unsightly stain from my arm pit on one of the shoulder straps.  I realized that, the last time I had carried the bag, I wore a sleeveless shirt.  No doubt the liquid stain (with its ugly black outline most pronounced) was a combination of my salty sweat and the chemicals in my deodorant.

But guess what!  As this long hot day went on, I was pleased to discover that half the stain disappeared, simply because of the warmth of my underarm, as the bag's strap had been pressed against the pit of my sleeve the entire day.  (Thank goodness I wasn't wearing a sleeveless shirt this day!)

Now knowing this, I decided to warm up the other half of the water stain by carrying the strap in a slightly different position, so that it would touch against my person (OK, my arm pit) even more.  Within a short time, I could see that the upper half of the stain was migrating...and, with a gentle rubbing of my fingers, I was able to erase the stain completely, for I must have been whisking out the excess liquid that was trapped beneath the leather's surface.  Can you believe it?!

So there you have it!  If you've got a scratch on your leather, rub it with your sweaty palms on a hot day.  If you've got a water mark stain, heat up the leather and whisk it out with a gentle rub.