The easiest, most economical way to clean leather is with a damp rag. If your leathers are really filthy, a soft bristle brush and a little water will take care of almost any amount of crud that you could manage to embed on your jacket. I like to use a damp rag and have an old tooth brush handy to clean out seams, creases, and zippers. If you are working on something that looks like hell struck with a bat, you can use saddle soap or Montana Pitch Blend Leather Oil Soap. Air dry your leather at room temperature* and apply a good conditioner. For all leather outerwear that will be exposed to the elements, I am partial to Montana Pitch Blend Leather Dressing. It is a blend of pine pitch, mink oil, and beeswax. It will soften up the most neglected leather and it is water repellent. I resurrected an old brittle bomber jacket that was rotting in my closet and had mold on it. I used a variety of leather care products on different parts of the jacket and the Leather Dressing was the hands down winner.
All light colored rags blacken when the cleaning and conditioning products are rubbed into our black leather. No reason to panic. All of our leather is drum dyed. There is plenty of dye to go around. Follow the directions when using the Montana Pitch Blend Leather Oil Soap. If you put it on a rag and rub it in full strength your rag will darken considerably. You are not gaining anything by using it full strength. Follow the directions and use it with water.
Proper care is important to the longevity of your motorcycle leathers. Neglected leathers can dry and rot while well cared for leathers will increase in beauty as they age. At Fox Creek we use semi-aniline leather, which readily absorbs conditioning oils because there is a very little finish on its surface. A well conditioned set of leathers will attain a beautiful luster that shows off the natural full grain of the leather. The basic idea behind leather conditioning is to replace the natural oils that the leather loses during daily wear. These oils lubricate the leather, keeping it supple, and repel water and dirt which can break down the integrity of your leathers.
*High heat from a source like a wood stove will shrink wet or damp leather. It will not shrink the leather in a uniform manner. It shrinks the leather in spots and ruins it completely. I would also advise against drying your leather in intense hot sunlight. Well conditioned leather is less susceptible to heat damage.
The Original Doc Bailey's Leather Black actually contains a dye pigment that restores lost color. It also cleans, nourishes, and waterproofs. Doc Bailey's Leather Black gently cleans leather with specially formulated detergents which actually lift dirt out, opening the pores of the leather allowing the lanolin oil to flow into the leather nourishing and softening it. Doc Bailey's Leather Black actually penetrates deep into the leather to restores lost color. As a finishing touch, special waxes lock the color in which protects and waterproofs your leather.
Apply a small amount of Doc Bailey's Leather Black to a clean, dry sponge and wipe even over the surface to be treated. Rinse sponge after use. Allow to cure for 12 hours before exposing to moisture. Buff for higher shine if desired. Do not use on Buckskin or Suede. Product will darken all leather, always test in a discrete area. Reapply every 6 months or as needed.
Caring for Elkskin Leather
Light colored Elkskin will darken considerably when you apply conditioners and oils. Elkskin also tends to be more absorbent than other leathers so be conservative when applying oil. Elkskin can take a lot of abuse and be restored to it's original condition. Elkskin can also be washed. Melinda, our office manager, asked JR, one of our stitchers, to make her an elkskin purse. Somehow candy caramel melted inside the purse and it stuck together. Melinda threw it in a washing machine, dried it on high heat and it came out good as new. I am not endorsing this procedure. I'd recommend hand washing with a mild soap and drying it at room temperature. Elkskin is as tough as it is beautiful.
Paul & the Fox Creek Leather Staff