7 Ways To Tell If Leather Is Dry Plus 5 Important Tips

how do you tell if leather is dry

Leather has the tendency to become dry and if not protected it can lead to the leather creasing, peeling, and cracking. So how can you tell if your leather is dry?

The best way to tell if leather is dry is by doing a leather absorption test. This involves applying liquid leather conditioner to the surface of the leather. If the conditioner is absorbed quickly this will mean the leather is dry.

During my research for this article I found a couple more ways to tell if leather is dry, keep reading to find out more!

1. Length Of Time Left Without Conditioning Or Oiling

There’s a saying that goes like “Time will tell”. Time indeed is one sure way to tell if your leather might be dry or not.

Generally, depending on the type of leather item you’re looking at if it’s not been conditioned or oiled for a while chances are that the leather must be dry.

Every leather item, regardless of what it’s made for will need to be conditioned or oiled from time to time to prevent it from drying.

With that said, it’s also important to add that different leather goods will have different durations when it comes to routine conditioning and oiling so that it remains nourished.

Leather shoes and boots that haven’t been conditioned for more than two months would be dry.

Leather goods for home, car, and other interiors if left for more than 6 months without conditioning will also be dry.

General leather goods and accessories like wallets, billfolds, watch straps, bracelets, etc and other that are in constant contact with our hands and skin wouldn’t need frequent conditioning.

This is because these leather goods get oil transfer onto them the more they are used so having a regular conditioning routine for them will be absolute overkill.

But you still do not want to leave these types of leather products for more than a year without giving it a bit of conditioning.

For most regular leather goods like jackets, bags, purses, etc if it’s been left for more than 3 months there’s a likelihood it’s beginning to dry.

2. By Observation

Another way to tell if your leather is dry is by simply looking at its appearance.

If the leather particularly looks dull then it might be a sign the leather is drying out or has already dried out.

This is probably one of the hardest ways to find out if your leather is dry or not.

This is because there are different kinds of leather with different textures and finishes.

So while some leathers will come with a super dry matte look, others will come with an ultra shine slick look.

This makes some leathers very easy to identify when they become dry while in other instances, the leather may not show any clear signs of dryness.

One sure way to know if your leather is dry is by combining your sense of sight with your sense of touch and you will be able to make a fairly good judgment on the state of the leather.

This brings me to my next point which is you can use your sense of touch to also tell if the leather is dry.

3. By Feel or Touch

Touching or holding the leather is probably one of the most intuitive ways for you to check if your leather has dried out or not.

Usually, you will be able to tell by touch unless the leather is really thick.

Chances are you are already touching your leather but might not clearly know what to expect.

First of all, leather will have an awkward feel when touched and will not feel soft or supple when dry.

Leather that is dry will also feel wrinkled to touch contrary to a rich lustrous feel.

4. Absorption Quality

The next method you can use to check if your leather is dry is by spot testing the leather on an inconspicuous part of the leather with a leather conditioner.

You would want to try this method by using a liquid or cream leather conditioner. What you do is to put a few drop or squirts on the leather.

If the leather is indeed dry it will soak or absorb the leather conditioner very quickly almost leaving no trace.

This will often work with unfinished leather. This is because unfinished leather will not have any protective layer on its surface.

Even though this will work great on unfinished leather you wouldn’t want to try this on suede leather as it’s highly porous and will suck in any type of liquid whether dry or not.

5. Sound

Generally, leather will make squeaky sounds especially if it’s new, and will have the squeaking sounds diminish with time – usually not completely.

Related Article: 6 Ways Patent Leather Age Plus How To Slow The Aging

But the sound leather makes when it dries without proper care and maintenance will usually change.

The sound leather will make when you tap it has dried will be something similar to a cardboard-like sound.

I must admit that this is not going to be the case for all types of leather but it’s certainly something you would want to be on the lookout for when you suspect your leather I had dried up.

6. What The Leather Is Exposed To

Leather is a highly versatile material and because of this, you will find leather’s usage in various aspects of life.

You will find its usage in both interior and exterior leather goods.

And because of this leather will be exposed to different elements.

If leather is exposed to these elements and it’s not carefully, properly cared for and protected the leather will begin to deteriorate.

For example, if leather items like the leather couch is allowed to sit close to a window where there’s often direct sunshine, then there’s a high possibility the leather is going to lose its essential oils and dry up.

Also, if you have in recent times or in the past exposed your leather items to substances or products that are alcohol-based, then there’s a chance your suspicion is right. Your leather is dry!

So if you know you have over the past few months exposed your leather goods to some brutal sunshine without reconditioning it, then it’s obvious the answer you’re looking for is the affirmative.

It’s not only sunshine that’s the culprit. When leather is also exposed to water and allowed to dry without conditioning, the leather will become dry.

So yes, it all comes down to what your leather has been exposed to. Knowing and understanding this will help you know if your leather is dry or not – even if the leather doesn’t appear to be.

In such instances where the leather has been exposed to the weather, what you will want to do is to clean the leather with a good leather cleaner and condition it so the fibers of the leather still remain lubricated.

7. Uneven Hardness

One noticeable thing with dried up leather is that the dryness you will have on the leather will not be uniform.

Usually, you will only experience dryness on only small portions of the leather.

This is because the entire surface of the leather doesn’t become dry all at once.

You will often see gradual dryness creeping in from a portion of the leather that seldom has contact with the body or portions of the leather that is exposed to an element that will cause it to dry up.

So in this case, while you will want your leather to have an even texture, you would want to focus your attention on these areas and compare it to other parts of the leather to be able to tell if the leather is dry or not.

Tips To Help Prevent Leather From Drying

  • Store leather items out of the sun.
  • Condition or add moisture to your leather items in a timely manner.
  • Always keep your leather items clean.
  • Do not use any chemical soaps and conditioners.
  • Always dry your leather slowly.

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Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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