Leather loses moisture over time if it is not used and conditioned periodically. If you have an old leather belt, set of reins, or another type of strap that has been sitting for a long time with no attention, it probably looks old and dry. Don't make the mistake of throwing it out! With some time, patience, and the steps below, you can revive the old piece of leather to its former glory.
Step 1. Clean the leather.
Purchase some glycerin saddle soap for this purpose. You do not want to use any harsh cleaners that may strip more of the oils from the leather. There are liquid glycerin saddle soaps in spray containers, and there are also solid glycerin soaps that you apply to a moist sponge. Either will work. Apply some soap to your sponge, and then wipe it over the leather item to gather any dust, dirt, and mold. Rinse the sponge, and repeat until you are no longer gathering more dirt from the leather.
Step 2. Apply conditioner.
Once your leather is clean, let it sit for an hour or two to dry out. Then, apply a good-quality leather conditioner, such as one made from mink oil or neatsfoot oil. Apply enough that you're able to see some extra conditioner sitting on the surface of the leather. This will be absorbed over time, softening the leather. Let the leather sit for about an hour, which will allow the excess conditioner to absorb.
Step 3. Massage the leather.
Once the leather has had time to sit and absorb the conditioner, use your hands to massage it. Bend the strap back and forth in all directions. This will open the pores of the leather and encourage them to absorb more of the conditioner. You'l feel the leather soften as you work with it.
Step 4. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
Apply a second layer of conditioner to the leather, and let it rest again. After a few hours, give it another massage. The leather should now look almost as good as new! If it is still a little stiff and dry, you can condition and massage it a third time.
Step 5: Seal the the leather.
Use a clean cloth to apply a thin layer of glycerin soap to the saddle. This will help seal the leather so it does not lose so much moisture in the coming months.
If you're still concerned about your leather or don't have time for this process yourself, contact local leather repair services.