A fine piece of leather is an heirloom that can last for decades if it is cared for properly. However, over time, even lightly used leather gets dirty. It is important to keep your leather clean if you would like it to look its best for years to come.
The best way to clean your leather depends on the kind of leather it is. Different leathers have different properties. For example, some leather, such as deer leather, is breathable because it has thousands of tiny pores in the skin. If you use a leather conditioner that is meant for the less porous cow leather, you will clog the pores in the leather. As a result, you should read the labels on any leather cleaner or conditioner before you apply it to your leather. If the product does not mention your kind of leather on the label, you should avoid using it.
Deerskin leather is not damaged by water, so you can wash the leather by hand with a mild soap like Woolite. Elk leather can also be wet, but spot cleaning with saddle soap or a mild detergent is preferable instead of immersing the elk leather in water because exposure to water changes the color of the elk leather. If you have a piece of custom leather from another animal, research the properties of the leather before you clean it.
One reliable way to find cleaning instructions for exotic leather is to perform an internet search. However, do not rely on just any source of information. Look for instructions on the website of a ranch that raises that specific animal or a retailer that sells your type of leather. Even then, test the cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous piece of leather before you clean the entire piece of leather or leather item.
Never place a damp piece of leather in the dryer, or expose it to direct sunlight. This will damage the hide. Similarly, do not hand dry a damp piece of leather, or it may stretch out of shape. Instead, lay the leather flat to dry in a well ventilated area away from sunlight. This will allow the leather to dry naturally without stretching.