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Leather Care Guide


This guide is for caring for full-grain leather items. All Hardmill items use full-grain leather, but if you have a different leather item, please ensure it is full grain before proceeding with these care instructions.

We use two different types of leather on our Hardmill products, oil-tanned leather and vegetable-tanned bridle leather. Our oil-tanned leathers are soft and supple – used on our tote bags, placemats, leather aprons, etc. Our bridle leathers have a smooth finish and a firm feel. We use this kind for our belts, bag handles, straps, wallets, keychains, etc.

The leathers we use are finished with oils and waxes, giving them a durable and premium finish with a soft feel. Leather may dry over time due to wear, exposure, moisture, heat, and humidity. When leather needs to be reconditioned, it may look lighter in color, dull/dry, firm, and rough in texture, and water may no longer be beading on the surface.

While there are many oils and conditioners on the market for leather care, one we really enjoy using is called Blackrock Leather 'n Rich. It uses a combination of oils and waxes to bring back leather back to a beautiful finish.


1. Start by brushing off dirt and debris, then wipe the surface with water using a damp rag. Allow air-drying fully. 

2. Before cleaning, spot-test in an inconspicuous area to ensure the finish and color fit your needs. 

3. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to apply the cleaner/conditioner of your choice in a thin layer over the entire piece. Use a dry part of the cloth to go back over the article in circular motions to absorb excess conditioner. This process will also help clean off dirt on your leather item. If necessary, re-apply the product and repeat the process until clean.

4. Let the item air-dry or use a light heat source such a blow dryer or heat gun to expedite the dry time. When the item is dry, it may have a slight tacky feeling, which will disappear after a couple of days while it dries and absorbs more into the leather. 



Sometimes oil-tanned leather will have a stark color change that may occur if hot liquids are spilled or left on the surface. While cool will bead off the surface, the hot liquid will permeate and displace the oils, leaving the underlying leather discolored, but this can be easily remedied. 

Applying heat to the discolored area will help melt and "reset" the waxes, allowing them to flow black into the discolored area. We use an industrial heat gun at our shop to do this, but a blow dryer can also be used. If the color of the leather does not fully return, apply a little leather conditioner to help replace the oils and waxes in the areas. 


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