Finishing Leather – Leather Crafts

Finishing Leather: Dressing

To keep your leather goods in top condition, maintain them regularly with leather conditioner, a technique called “dressing.” Dressing keeps leather soft and supple, and prevents cracking and drying. Dress leather goods at least once per year for occasional use with good storage conditions. For heavier use, such as regular outdoor use in the direct sun with low humidity, dress every three months.



Leather conditioner

Mild soap (optional)


Clean rags

1 Clean the leather. If the leather is dirty, clean it with diluted mild castile soap or hand dishwashing liquid. Use a mixture of 1 part soap to 10 parts water (it should not be sudsy). Allow the leather to fully dry before dressing.

2 Rub in a light coat of conditioner. With a clean, dry rag, lightly rub a coat of conditioning treatment into your leather product. Even if it has been a while or looks very dry, use only a light coat.

3 Let the dressing set. Allow the dressing to soak into the leather. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes if you’re short on time or overnight if you want it to really saturate.

4 Buff dry. Using a new, clean rag, buff the area dry. It should have a matte finish.

5 Repeat application. If you’d like a darker finish or if the leather still looks dry, repeat Steps 2 to 4 until the leather achieves the finish you desire.

Resist the temptation to put on a thick layer of dressing. Heavy coats of oil can prevent the leather from breathing and encourage mildew growth.

Dressing darkens leather slightly, and can speed up the darkening patina that happens during aging.