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November 30, 2022 4 min read

by Monique Youzwa

Monique has been a full-time freelance writer for over 5 years, plus has a few fiction credits under her belt and is currently working on a novel. When not writing, she spends her time reading, playing video games, hiking, and camping with her husband and daughter.


Leather is a mix of luxury, durability, and versatility, making it one of the most prized materials on the market. Despite its many benefits, leather does have one flaw. Over time, it can dry out, causing irreparable damage if not restored. To avoid such deterioration, learning how to tell if the leather is dry is the first step.

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How To Tell If Leather Is Dry

There are several ways to tell if your leather items are dry. First, look closely at the leather. If it’s dull or wrinkles have begun to appear, the leather may need some attention.

Leather is known for its soft, supple feel. If you run your fingers over the material and it lacks this texture or has developed a roughness due to creases, the leather is too dry.

Even the sound leather makes when moved can alert you to dryness. New, well-conditioned leather squeaks as it rubs against itself. Dry leather sounds similar to rubbing cardboard pieces together.

What Causes Dry Leather?

Leather is one of the strongest materials around, which is why it can last for decades when cared for properly. Learning what causes the dryness that damages the sturdy material can help prevent such damage.

Lack of Conditioning

All types of leather need conditioning at least twice a year to keep the material soft and supple. If you don’t condition your leather, its natural oils will dry up over time. The result will be a rough texture that wrinkles or cracks.


Heat leeches the moisture out of leather, removing its natural oils and causing the fibers to tighten and crack. Placing your jacket in direct sunlight, near heating vents, or in the dryer sucks out its natural oils, resulting in dry leather.


Leather soaks up moisture from spills or rain, so dampness alone doesn't cause dryness. The issue arises from improper drying. Letting your leather air dry is best to preserve the material, but trying to speed up the process using hair or clothes dryers can dehydrate the leather.

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Tips To Avoid Leather Drying

Avoiding dry leather is the best way to ensure all your garments and accessories look and feel fantastic. The first step in this process is caring for your leather pieces properly. Conditioning them is essential to rejuvenate those internal oils and keep the material hydrated.

The conditioning frequency can vary depending on the leather item in question. Smaller pieces, including belts and wallets, may only need conditioning once or twice a year. They are consistently touched, so your finger oils are transferred to the leather, keeping them soft and supple. Leather jackets or bags don’t have this luxury, so may need conditioning every few months.

Keeping your leather out of the sun and away from heat is also required to prevent it from drying. Hang it in a cool, dark place when not in use. If your leather pieces get wet, lay them out to air dry.

When cleaning or conditioning leather, avoid chemicals, even those deemed safe for leather. Vinegar and baking soda are part of many homemade recipes, but these should be used sparingly to avoid damaging the material.

How To Fix Dry Leather

The best way to fix dry leather is to condition it as soon as possible. Leather conditioners are designed to replace lost moisture and come in creams and oils for easy application.

Before conditioning leather, it’s best to clean it first. Doing so will remove any dust, dirt, or debris from the material. Let it dry completely. Then add your conditioner, using circular motions to apply it to your chosen product onto the leather with a microfiber cloth. Let it soak in overnight, then wipe away any residue.

How to tell if the leather is dry

Final Word

Dry leather can ruin a fantastic garment or accessory, though it isn’t a death sentence for your favorite items. Learning how to tell if the leather is dry, what causes it, and how to fix it are essential to maintaining your favorite leather gear. Doing so will help protect your leather from irreparable damage for longer-lasting pieces.

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