Leather armor has been used by different civilizations at different times, and often shows up at Renaissance faires and other historical reenactments. Besides being tough and durable, leather is also relatively easy to care for, although it does need regular attention. When properly maintained, good medieval leather armor can last decades and still be in excellent shape.
Why It’s Important
Just like anything else, dirty leather is more susceptible to mold, mildew, and other damage. If dirt and debris get ground into the leather, they can weaken it and cause it to break down. Remember that you’ll probably be wearing your armor in conditions where there’s a lot of dust and dirt to go around. Reenactments are typically held in fairgrounds and other outdoor locations, and often go on for days in which you’ll likely be sweating and encountering all sorts of substances from soot to rain.
How to Clean Leather
Every time you use your medieval leather armor, clean it afterwards by wiping it with a damp cloth to remove the dirt. Then let it air dry completely before putting it into storage. Pay special attention to the insides of the armor, where sweat from your body causes salt and moisture to accumulate.
If your leather is especially dirty, you can use a leather cleaner like saddle soap to get out debris that is deeply ingrained. When you purchase your armor, ask for cleaning instructions so you know what products are safe to use on each individual piece.
Occasionally, ancient Greek helmets and other leather armor pieces need additional maintenance. Soft leather should be oiled from time to time–usually every few months, depending on how often you use it. Don’t oil heavy leather armor, since the oil will cause it to lose stiffness and shape.
Most leather pieces will also have to be sealed on a regular basis. This creates a protective coating that helps keep out all that damaging dirt. It also helps prevent stains and scuff marks, keeping your armor in the best shape possible.