If you go by the description on the bottle, this product should restore and revive smooth leather goods such as couches, shoes, purses, tack, saddles, and auto interiors as it “penetrates, preserves and protects.” After testing it on leather furniture and both newer and older handbags, here’s what you need to know.
Should You Use a Product Like This on Antiques and Collectibles?
With that said, when leather cleaning is appropriate, this is an excellent product to use to tackle the job. Follow the use suggestions below and you should be fine in most instances.
Does It Clean, Condition and Protect?
When tested on several pieces of brown leather furniture, it indeed conditioned the dry, cracked areas on cushions that had seen their fair share of use. It also cleaned far more dirt than expected from these pieces. They looked great immediately after being wiped down with this product. A few days later some of the cracking reemerged as the cream dried up, just as expected. But the good news is that the cushions continued to look far better than the original condition months later, so it indeed protected them just as promised.
The next text case was a newer purse that had been subjected to another cleaning product previously. That prior cleaning foray ended in disappointment when the cleaner not only removed the grime from the bag, but the stain on the leather as well. The flap was now clean, but left with a different color than the rest of the handbag. When the Howard product was applied to the remainder of the bag, none of the color was removed. It also conditioned the leather nicely.
Using the Howard cream to clean and condition an early 1900s baby alligator handbag (shown here - click on the photo for a larger view), also worked very well. All surface grime was removed without damaging the hide or changing the color. The bag was left feeling more subtle than prior to applying the conditioner even after it was left to dry for several weeks.
How Do You Use It?
“Apply cream with a soft cloth, massaging into the leather. Allow to penetrate before buffing with a clean, soft cloth. Test on an inconspicuous spot for color-fastness. Use sparingly, but often.”
To avoid a situation involving color removal that may hurt an object's value as with the handbag mentioned above, it is a good idea to test this product as suggested. Make sure you’re comfortable with the result before cleaning the entire leather surface by trying it in an out of the way area. If only surface dirt is removed and you like the way the leather looks as the oils in the cream are absorbed over the next few days, you should be fine cleaning the entire surface with the product.
One word of warning is to shake the bottle well prior to applying the cream directly on to your leather surfaces. The oils in the cream tend to separate when it sits, and that first squirt will result in an unsightly oil stain if you don’t shake well. The good news is that the stain will eventually fade as the leather absorbs the oil, but it’s better to avoid this in the first place. You’ll also want to work on small areas for the same reason. If you apply the cream and don’t rub it in fairly quickly, you’ll see a bit of an oil stain that will eventually fade away.
You can also try putting the cream on your cloth, and then rubbing it on the leather which avoids the temporary oil staining for the most part. But, you’ll use far more product to clean the same surface area when applying it in this way. If economy is important to you, try applying it to the leather and quickly rub it in for best results.
You’ll also want to be aware that it’s not for use on suede, nubuck or aniline leather products, as noted on the product label. Stick to smooth leather when using this product.
Is It Worth the Money?
Even several months after using it initially, leather furniture still looks better than it did prior to applying the product. It’s also gentle, not greasy or sticky after applied, and it has a pleasant light citrus fragrance. All in all this is a good product for reviving leather and worth the price it commands.