PSA: How to clean and condition your leather products


Recently, I’ve been trying to get rid of tack on a leather bag. Humidity is the reason why leather becomes tacky. This is especially evident on leather couches, since your butt sweat gets stuck on it*. On your leather bags, it’s just our stupid tropical weather, and perhaps a bad case of sweaty palms.

If you’ve brought your tacky leather bag to one of those “bag spas” before, they might tell you that it is not possible to get rid of that feeling. Especially if you’ve told them that it is an extremely old and precious bag.

This is mostly because getting rid of the stickiness requires a lot of patience and multiple cycles of cleaning, which is antithetical to profit.


DO NOT FEAR. Since you love your tacky leather bag and you are not running a “bag spa”, you will have plenty of patience to thoroughly clean your bag.

You will need: Lint-free microfiber cloths, leather shampoo, and leather conditioner. We use the leather cleaner and conditioner from Howard Products**, which you can buy from Selfix. They make your bag smell like oranges!

Step 1: Spray the leather shampoo generously on the bag.

Step 2: Use a microfiber cloth and vigorously shampoo your bag. I mean really shampoo. If your bag doesn’t look like one of those Christmas snow displays in a Singaporean mall, you are not shampooing!

Many online tips will tell you to gently wipe your bag so you don’t scratch it, but that gentle, gentle thing will not get rid of any tack. It’s like listening to Enya in the toilet when what you really need is a laxative. And since we are using microfiber cloths here, it is quite difficult to scratch the bag.

Step 3: When you can’t shampoo no more, use a damp, microfiber cloth to wipe away the soap suds. Your bag will probably still be sticky. That is normal.

Step 4: Since we can’t spend all day shampooing a bag, and it’s generally not a good idea for your bag to be wet for long periods of time, wait a day and shampoo again.

Step 5: Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you’re satisfied with the results. Did you read about that guy who chased the Ministry of Manpower for two years so that his ex-company would settle a $60 medical claim? YOU ARE THAT GUY AND YOUR BAG IS THAT $60.

Step 6: Apply a thin layer of leather conditioner with a microfiber cloth.

Step 7: Buff with the microfiber cloth. I MEAN BUFF. If you don’t buff, your leather bag won’t be as shiny and may even feel sticky. BUFFFFFFFFFF.

And there you have it, you’ve saved your lovely old bag.

*Aside PSA: LEATHER COUCHES ARE NOT SUITABLE FOR TROPICAL WEATHER. Unless you intend to turn on your air-conditioning 24/7, your new, luxurious leather couch will soon be old, sticky, and stained with butt sweat.

**Aside: Out of all the available leather conditioners, I chose the Howard Products one because it is all natural and it contains lanolin. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer that comes from sheep. Basically, you want to choose an animal-based oil to treat your leather products. You can also use, believe it or not, cod liver oil, but the smell will stay there… FOREVER.

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