The Genesis Of Myths

There are numerous myths that surround us today. Rarely do we know where they came from, yet they affect the way we handle things. When it comes to workplace leather products, the behavior isn’t all that different. Those who are wary of such myths often question the most widespread one that exists, “Does water ruin leather?”.

The knee-jerk reaction to this question is an easy yes. However, there is very little scientific reasoning backing this assertion. For many, it’s just the knowledge that’s passed down from a senior coworker. Consider the hefty prices of quality leather products and many managers are reluctant to test this theory. However, they don’t need to risk ruining pricey leather equipment to find the answer to this question. There are many studies on the effect of water on leather products – both genuine and synthetic. Let’s take a look at some of their findings.

What Water Does To Leather

If you’re wearing or carrying any leather product, there’s a good chance it’s going to get wet. Whether it’s spilled on you, unexpected rain, or the carelessness of an individual handling liquids, it’s a likely outcome.

Once leather gets wet, the oils in its skin bind themselves to the water molecules that just arrived. Subsequently, the oils get drawn out as the water dries and evaporates. As the leather sheds its natural elements, it loses its suppleness and texture as it’s reduced to a stiff, wrinkly state. Furthermore, it may also leave stains or marks that hamper its effectiveness. All in all, it loses all the qualities that make leather special.

How to fix water-damaged leather?

The various constitutions of different types of leather mean that each of them requires a unique solution. Having said that, there are a few pieces of equipment that you must keep in hand when addressing this problem: a dry cloth, a microfiber paper towel, a soft-bristle brush, a leather conditioner, and absorbents.


Inarguably the leather that’s most susceptible to water is suede. The extra devastation that water can cause means that drying it is a tricky task. That’s why you should be extra mindful of water whenever you are using it. However, even if you do get it wet, all’s not lost. Here are the steps you need to follow.

  1. With time of the essence, you need to immediately start blotting the wet areas with a dry cloth. Be mindful of blotting the water and not rubbing it or spreading it along the surface of the leather.
  2. Once done, gently use your brush to stroke the leather back and forth for a couple of minutes. Make sure you don’t exert too much pressure to damage the surface.
  3. Use a hairdryer and set the settings on low whilst directing towards the suede. Do this whilst you continue gently brushing it in an attempt to revive its nap before the point of no return.
  4. Once you’re successful, make sure to take precautionary measures to prevent it from happening again. This includes using stain repellents or other products.

Vegetable Tanned Leather

Usually, this type is a full-grain leather, which means it’s resistant to water. However, since it’s the outermost leather where natural oils are present in abundance, its absorption rate is quite potent too. Here are a few steps to preserve its appeal

  1. Firstly, wash your hands thoroughly as this type of leather easily absorbs grease and oil.
  2. Start by carefully blotting at any liquid present on top of the leather or inside. Be careful not to wipe it as it would move the liquid further into its surface.
  3. Once you do that, it becomes damp. Use a high-quality leather conditioner and rub a thick coat of it onto the leather as it will replenish the lost natural oils.
  4. After you’re done, leave it to dry overnight. Do not use any means of artificial heat to dry it as it will shrink it and make it brittle.
  5. Once it’s dried, buff the entire surface and apply water and stain repellents as a precautionary measure.

Grained Leather

To those unaware, every leather is initially grained leather which is of the highest quality. With its refined finish and protective surface layer, its water-resistance levels are high compared to other kinds of leather. Though it means stains are less likely, they might still get damaged from certain liquids. Here’s what to do if it happens.

  1. After making sure your hands are clean, blot the affected area with a dry cloth and make sure not to rub. Do it until it becomes dank.
  2. Once done, apply some effective leather conditioner to regain the lost oils. Massage it into the surface and leave it to dry.
  3. After it dries, buff the entire surface and finish with some protective measures like a spray protector.

Nubuck Leather

As for Nubuck, it’s a buffed-down version of full-grain leather. It’s similar to suede leather though it’s more robust. Even though its resistance is immaculate against lower amounts of water, it falters when there’s an excess of it. This is what you need to do when it happens.

  1. Use a paper towel to blot away any presence of water whilst being mindful of not spreading it.
  2. Then, use a soft-bristle brush to smoothly sweep it back and forth for a couple of minutes. Let the leather dry naturally in a cool place once you’re done
  3. Once you’re done, apply some quality conditioner onto it every 2 or 3 weeks to keep it supple

The Bigger Picture

Summing it all up, taking care of your equipment is your responsibility. Though the ideal measures to take are precautionary and evasive ones, however, it’s not possible every time. That’s why it’s necessary to know the appropriate steps to take once the inevitability of water and leather colliding occurs. Knowing the basics will allow you to carry out a lot of DIY tasks easily including preserving your leather shoes from any water damage.

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