Can You Get Leather Wet?
If you ask can leather get wet? The absolute answer would be YES! leather gets wet and it's surely not a good idea to wet leather. The problem with wet leather starts when it dries up and becomes brittle and lifeless. So it is always advisable to keep your leather articles away from water.
But what if you are caught in the rain and your favorite leather bags or boots get wet? Don't worry you can still rescue them! We have a few tricks to address the situations where leather gets wet.
What Happens When Leather Gets Wet?
So what exactly happened when leather meets water? Just like human skin becomes dry and brittle without natural oils and moisture, these oils are necessary for leather hides as well. So, when leather comes in contact with water, the natural oils present in leather binds with the water molecules and when the leather dries up, it also evaporates these oils present in leather leaving dry, stiff, and brittle leather which has lost its supple and soft texture.
Besides this, water can also move dyes present in leather causing stains and spots on leather that are not desirable. Cleaning the water with a dry cloth as soon as possible can reduce the chances of getting the stain in the first place.
Hence it is important to save the leather from getting brittle and stiff by removing the water from the leather as soon as possible and treating it with a good quality conditioner.
Which Type of Leather Can Get Wet?
There are different types of leathers and they all have different grades of water resistance. The top-grain and full-grain leather are the highest quality of leather but they can also get wet and ruined by water.
Mostly vegetable tanned leather is full-grain and they absorb the water and also get water stains. Whereas the grained or patterned leathers are mostly chrome tanned and are covered with a solid protective layer which makes them less prone to soaking water.
Suede leather gets easily ruined by water and hence rescuing it can be a tricky challenge. Hence it is always good to use a waterproof coating spray on suede leather items.
Can Faux Leather Get Wet?
This is the question which we hear very often. Synthetic or faux leather is made from a plastic base and does not contain any actual animal skin. Hence, they are less penetrative, and just like plastic they are already waterproofed and do not get wet or damaged by water.
You can simply wipe off any standing liquid with a dry cloth and you are good to go! This also means that the conditioning products can not penetrate the faux leather to stop it from peeling and drying which happens in faux leather over time or when exposed excessively to the sun.
What To Do When Leather Get Wet?
To rescue wet leather from damage you need not panic but act at right time and with the right method. Try the below steps to stop the leather from becoming brittle and damaging completely.
Step 1. Dry the wet leather
Firstly, take a dry cloth and gently wipe off any standing water on your leather products and let the leather dry naturally, till the point it is damp. Do not wait till it gets completely dry, we still need the leather to be damp for applying the conditioner.
Do not apply any artificial heat such as a blow dryer etc. to speed up the drying process as it can shrink leather and make it stiff so let it air dry at room temperature. If your leather products have shrunk due to any reason, read our leather stretching guide.
For leather bags and leather shoes, first, stuff them with newspaper to help them hold their shape while drying and it will also absorb water from inside. For leather clothing such as jackets, you can hang them on a hanger and let them air dry till they are damp.
Step 2. Condition It
While the leather is still damp apply a thick coat of good quality leather conditioner to replenish the lost oils and moisture. Take a clean cloth and massage the leather conditioner evenly on the surface of the leather. Use small circular motions to cover the entire surface with the conditioner. Once you are done, leave it to dry for a few hours or you can let it dry overnight.
The leather conditioner will penetrate the surface of the leather through pores left open after evaporating water and will replenish the oils lost from it which will save it from becoming dry and brittle. If any areas still feel excessively dry, you can apply another layer of conditioner on such areas.
Step 3. Protect it
Once dried, buff the entire surface of the leather to remove any excess material left. At this stage, you are done saving your leather products from previous damage.
But you might want to save it from getting damaged in the future. Although, if you choose a good quality leather conditioner then it also can protect your leather goods from future water damages as well. But for leather accessories such as shoes that come in contact with water more frequently and are more exposed to damage, you can use a waterproofing spray or wax to make them more water-resistant.
How to prevent the leather from getting wet?
Real leather is a naturally permeable material and hence it can never be 100% waterproofed. Though, it has some natural water resistance. But if it is left in water for a long time then it can cause irreversible damage to the leather.
Hence, making the leather more water-resistant artificially is the only hope. We have a few options through which you can increase leather's waterproofing quality.
There are several waterproofing sprays available in the market which will help you protect your leather goods from future sudden rains and water damage. Remember to do a patch test on less visible areas of your leather product before applying everywhere.
Start with a clean leather surface and apply the waterproofing spray layer by layer. Let the spray set on the leather surface before spraying another layer. Leather water-proofing sprays work best for suede leather as they are very much exposed to water damage.
You can use colorless beeswax to waterproof the leather. There are several waterproof waxes available in the market or you can also make it at your home using this detailed guide. Applying wax helps by creating a barrier between the leather pores and water to minimize the absorption of water into the leather so that it does not get wet easily.
Take a small amount of wax and do a patch test on less visible areas of your leather product before applying everywhere as some wax can cause the leather to darken a bit so make sure to do a patch test.
Now, clean the leather surface with a cloth to remove dust and dirt. Take a small amount of wax on a clean dry cloth and apply it all over the leather product. You can repeat this step if necessary.
Then leave it to dry naturally for a few hours. Do not use any artificial heat such as a blow dryer. Once the wax is dried, buff off the excess with a dry cloth, and you are done!
As we already saw, leather conditioner not only helps in rescuing the already soaked leather but also prevent the leather from future damages. The leather conditioner also helps to replenish the lost shine and soft texture of leather which happens with time if proper leather care is not done.
Read our blog on waterproofing leather to know the detailed methods by which you can make your leather products almost waterproofed.
Whether it's the rain or a spilled glass of water if you ask “Can leather get wet?” The answer will be an absolute YESS! And it is almost inevitable to prevent your leather bags, shoes, or jackets from ever getting wet. They will come in contact with water somehow.
Wet leather is not an ideal situation and hence, addressing the situation quickly is the key to rescuing your leather products. Our tips and tricks will help you deal with wet leather and to protect them from those rainy days.