Restoring a leather purse. This before and after photo shows how proper cleaning and drying techniques can restore leather goods once thought unsalvageable. (Photo: Esporta)

Robust and durable, leather is a natural material often chosen for use in the harshest of environments. We take its relative strength for granted. Leather is stitched together in everyday items like shoes and boots, belts, wallets, purses, jackets, sofas, easy chairs, car and truck seats, sporting equipment and more. Even fur coats are considered leather goods.

Preconceived notions tell us that leather needs to avoid contact with water, and therefore cannot be cleaned in a wash process. A funny notion when you consider rain, street puddles,  early morning golf tee times in dewed grass, and dreaded winter slush are all things that come into direct contact with leather goods; and yet these things remain intact.

Related: 5 tips to creating a home inventory for an insurance claim

When the juice isn’t worth the squeeze 

Adjusters and claims professionals making assessments on smoke- or water-damaged leather contents often write off these items as non-salvageable. Many dry cleaning service providers won’t take the time or trouble to restore leathers. The reason is obvious. Cleaning leather goods by hand is too time-consuming relative to the revenue gain – it is almost impossible to return them to pre-loss condition.

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