If you've ever invested in a good quality leather belt, you know how important it is to keep it looking good. Maintaining your belt only takes a few minutes, but can add years to the life of your favorite accessory. Here are a few tips to keep your leather goods in tip-top shape.
TDLR: Use a clean damp cloth and lukewarm water to wipe off dirt and oil. Let it air dry overnight before wearing your belt again. Repeat regularly and don't forget to check your screws!
How and when should I clean a leather belt?
If your belt is made with good quality leather it can go years without needing any maintenance. You know your leather belt needs some cleaning if you see any visible dirt, sweat or water stains, or oil-based stains from your hands.
How to clean your leather belt correctly
You will need a few things to get started: two clean cloths (one dry cloth and one damp cloth) a cup of lukewarm water, and a cup of warm water with a drop or two of a very mild regular soap. Make sure to use a soft cloth, like microfiber, that isn't abrasive and won't leave lint on your belt.
Damp cloth, rub. Dry cloth, repeat.
If you just have a couple of small stains, clean lukewarm water might be enough! Start by gently rubbing the leather with the dampened cloth, then wipe it dry with the other clean rag. Be careful not to rub too aggressively - it can damage leather.
If the stains on your leather belt are a little resistant, use lukewarm water with a drop or two of dish soap. Dip your clean cloth into the warm soapy water then wring out the excess water. Gently rub the surface of the leather belt in little circles to remove light dirt stains and oil-based stains. Wipe the belt with a dry cloth to confirm it's clean. Repeat this until you are satisfied.
Once you're happy with how clean your leather belt is, it will need to air-dry overnight or at least a day in a cool dry place. Do not wear it until it is completely dry and do not try to speed up the drying process with a blow dryer! It could permanently damage the leather.
Do I need a special leather cleaner?
A traditional leather cleaner like saddle soap is a great option to deep clean stains or restore leather products. If you're just doing some light touch-up of your leather belt you probably don't need to purchase these specialty cleaners. Try cleaning your leather belt with a little soap and water first to see if it does the trick.
If you have some tough dirt or stubborn stains that need deep cleaning, you may need to clean your belt with saddle soap specifically designed for leather. If your belt's leather seems dry, you can sparingly apply a leather conditioner after cleaning your leather to prevent further damage. Different products require different methods, so always follow the manufacturer's directions.
Tips for maintaining your buckle
Once you've cleaned your leather belt, it is time to move on to your buckle. It is the star of your accessory game and usually doesn't get the attention it deserves.
Start by checking that all your screws are tightened. We use blue medium-strength Loctite or Vibratite when assembling our buckles to prevent the screws from loosening. It is available at most big box stores for a few dollars.
Over time and after years of use, your screws may start to loosen. If you notice a screw coming loose or if you have to tighten it occasionally, it's time to secure it with a little medium-strength Loctite. Gently back the screw out, apply a little dab of blue Loctite to the threads, and gently reinsert the screw. Let the screws dry overnight and your buckle should be good to go for another few years!
If you notice that a screw is completely missing, don't panic! We sell replacements parts for our buckles.
How do you extend the life of a leather belt?
The best way to keep your leather belt looking good is to regularly maintain it. Routinely wipe it down with a damp cloth, especially if you live in a warm environment. Loctite the screws right away if you notice them starting to loosen. Here are a couple more tips to keep your belt looking fresh.
Keep leather belts dry and sweat-free
Although we emphasize regularly cleaning leather belts with a little soap and water, excess water is a big threat to leather. Use it sparingly when cleaning and try your best to keep your belt from getting wet or oily. If your belt does get wet, clean it right away and let it dry fully before you wear it again.
Should I oil my leather belt?
Your grandma may have told you to use olive oil to condition your leather, but it's not something we recommend. Unless your belt is showing signs of drying and cracking, you shouldn't need to oil or condition it.
Some types of leather belts, like our grey distressed leather and slate grey leather, should not be oiled. Oiling this kind of leather will dramatically darken the color and alter the leather's unique look.