Many people own leather, but a lot of people don’t know how to clean leather. Cleaning your leather product needs to be done correctly or you risk damaging it, duffels, backpacks, briefcases, wallets, etc. Luckily, leather doesn’t need to be cleaned as often as other materials, like cotton or wool.
Know your leather. The type of leather that you're dealing with dictates what cleaning method you use. Finished leather (aka treated leather) is covered in a protective coating, while suede and unfinished leather (aka untreated leather) are not. A little bit of saddle soap is fine to use on a finished leather couch, but even mild soap can be too harsh for the most sensitive leathers. If you're not sure how your leather will react to cleaning, test your cleaning agent in an inconspicuous area.
Steer clear of DIY cleaning solutions. When it comes to leather, you're better off using either water or cleaning products specifically designed for leather. Popular home remedies like baking soda, white vinegar, cream of tartar, and lemon juice can be harsh on delicate leathers and make the problem even worse.
Treat stains as soon as they happen. The best way to deal with liquid stains is to treat them right away by blotting with a soft cloth to remove as much of the moisture as possible. Then, dab the area with a soft, damp cloth (use warm water—no soap). You can also dampen a cloth with leather cleaner—but if you're using a product that comes in a spray bottle, spray it onto the cloth first rather than directly onto the surface of the leather. Don't rub, or you could leave a water stain. Blot again with a dry cloth.
Moisturize. After cleaning the leather with water or leather cleaner, use a leather conditioner to restore moisture. Gently rub the leather conditioner into your leather with a circular motion using a brush, sponge, or microfiber cloth.
Dry-clean difficult stains. Grease stains, ink stains, and makeup stains that don't come clean after gentle spot-cleaning may need to be professionally cleaned.
Time heals some wounds. Leather is a remarkably durable material, and sometimes just letting the leather absorb the stain is the best option—although it may take weeks or even months.
Protect your leather. Protect your leather items by regularly wiping away dirt and grime. Some items, like leather jackets, may benefit from waterproofing spray, while others, like shoes, can be waxed to become more water-resistant.
Store leather goods properly. Keep your leather goods in a dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent mildew and discoloration. To help leather bags keep their shape, stuff them with a clean towel and store them in a dust bag. Hang leather jackets on sturdy hangers.
Condition Leather Bag Regularly: If you want your vintage duffle bag to look shinier and much more appealing to others then you should condition it from time to time as said above leather can get dried up and cracks can also appear on the surface. Only conditioning can avoid drying up and cracking the surface. Most conditioned leather duffle bags will look darker because of the conditioning process.
Take a clean and soft cloth and apply a dime-sized leather conditioner to it. Begin rubbing the cloth smoothly on the clean leather in a circular motion. Cover the entire surface of the leather to distribute the conditioner equally.
After applying the conditioner, let the leather bag dry naturally for a few more hours to ensure complete drying.
Avoid Rain: If you anticipate a rainy day then we would recommend not taking your leather bag out on such days as water and leather are not so good friends. If you get caught on an unexpected rainy day then don’t panic. This situation can be handled too, just act quick and use some newspapers and towels to absorb the moisture out of the leather as much as possible.
Do not rub the leather, only use pressing movements.
Do not use heat on the leather to dry it quickly as it will ruin the leather. Simply absorb as much water as you can with the towel and newspaper and then fill the bag with dry newspapers to soak any liquid remaining in the bag.
Avoid Chemicals: Leather does not require any artificial chemicals or treatments. It is best to use only products which are specifically designed for leather and if you are not sure then it’s best to avoid any treatments as most of the chemicals can clog the pores of the leather and may damage it permanently.