There’s nothing that says ‘welcome to the tropics’ like a bag or leather jacket, ruined. The heat, humidity and that horrid mould, make for the worst combination when it comes to managing your precious leather items. We spoke to Helen Grisdale, owner at Seran Ghetti and home to the most amazing handbags in ethically sourced African animal leather; on tips to maintain leather in a humid environment.
Why does my leather mould so quickly in the tropics?
To put it simply, when leather is exposed to humidity in the air it starts absorbing this moisture. While some amount of moisture is actually good to keep your leather soft and supple, higher degrees of it mean that it starts disintegrating over time. So essentially, all those pores on your leather can only take so much moisture.
What is the easiest way to maintain it?
If you can afford one, invest in a high range electric dehumidifier that can help maintain the humidity levels to below 40%. Even though these may seem like an expensive investment, the money you will save on destroyed leather will be far higher. You can also keep your air conditioning running in your storage room or where your wardrobe is to keep humidity at bay, timed to one hour a day. Alternatively, be diligent about cleaning your leather items every few months and always storing with dehumidifier boxes like Hungry Hippos. Don’t forget to change these every month too! Stay away from plastic bags as they encourage humidity. Sneaky tip? I leave my wardrobe doors open at night before sleeping, to let the air conditioning in!
Are there ways to clean leather on your own, at home?
Some people swear by Clove Oil (mixed with water) and sprayed onto leather items to give them a good cleanse. I would recommend a wipe down with a soft cloth and if it’s stained or dirty (like a pair of shoes), use over the counter products or wipes to manage it (after testing on the side for more staining). Any job that’s bigger than a small stain should be sent directly to a professional cleaning service like Jeeves Singapore or Color Wash, right away!
What if it is already ruined - what do I do then?
I would say try a wipe down with Clove Oil and water and let it dry completely. If this does not work, a professional service may be able to help solve the problem. It’s definitely easier to solve when the mould is still growing vs. a fully covered bag.
Is one leather better than the other?
I will always advocate buying 100% leather. Any synthetic or polyester mixed material, will only rot faster and peel in this environment. Better still, get leather that is ethically sourced! Make a conscious decision by choosing better and genuine leather to ensure you are spending those dollars well.
Seran Ghetti is a Singapore based company specializing in beautiful, ethically obtained African animal hide products ranging from cushions, exotic floor coverings and unique tribal clutches. To shop their fabulous products, visit www.seranghetti.com