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Before attempting any restoration, thoroughly examine the leather for damage, deterioration, cracking and insect attack. If any of these problems are present they should be entrusted to a professional, again please do a discreet test first before proceeding to your collection.
If your item is in an sound condition and just grimy, first of all wipe over with an soft lint -free or microfibre cloth. It will remove all loose an dry dirt and dust for your item. An useful product for this task is the Smoke/Soot Sponge. Antiquax Leather Soap is a good cleaner, also known as Saddle Soap, it is best applied by using a clean lint-free cloth such as the swish cleaning cloth, work up a lather and apply. Remove this with a second soft clean cloth.
There are a number of leather cleaners which can be useful such as Leather Cream. Leather Cream is lightly scented paste cleaner that can be used on most types of leather including bookbinding’s. Using a lint-free cloth apply sparingly to the leather surface and gently buff working into the grain of the leather. This will feed and nourish and add moisture back into cracked dry leather items. Other products include Leather Dressing which is used in a similar way.
Leather can attract insect pests such as Moth grubs, they chew though leather particularly book binding and antique leathers. Again if your are in any doubt about using any product then DON’T and pass it on to a professional Leather Restorer.