As if I didn’t have enough old leather jackets to repurpose already, my aunt donated hers a few weeks ago. It had a very heavy brown leather and it was not in a great condition. Before I could use it to make something new, the leather had to be cleaned and conditioned.
I used soap, mink oil and neutral shoe shine/polish (colored shoe shine could get onto my clothes if some residue is left when the leather has been turned into a bag).
To get the leather nice and clean I used a sponge and a few drops of Swedish pine soap diluted in water. If you are anywhere else but in Scandinavia you will probably not have access to this soap, but regular glycerine soap will work just as great! Try not to use a soap that will make the leather dry, go for soaps that are oil based.
Gently clean the surface with the sponge.
After you are done cleaning, wipe off the surface with a cotton rag. I used an old worn out t-shirt, hah!
Let the leather dry. Then apply mink oil. I had to use quite a lot of it, mostly because the leather was SO dried up, but also because my mink oil is probably over 20 years old and kind of dried up too… It still works, even though it could be considered to be… uhm. Vintage.
Let the leather soak up the mink oil. I left mine over night. In the morning the oil had dried up and there was almost nothing left to wipe off.
But I did anyway, and so should you. Get that cotton rag again and wipe off the leather until you have a surface that is non-sticky and smooth.
After the mink oil I like to use a polish to get some shine. This is not really necessary, but I think it makes the leather come alive again and brings out the color more. It makes the leather look new.
Apply the shoe shine and let it dry.
Polish it up until you have a nice shine.
… And be amazed at the result!