Let’s Talk Leather: Can It Get Wet or Not?

Young man drinking coffee and reading the newspaper with his real leather backpack on the table next to him.

Can Genuine Leather Get Wet?

Short answer: no! 

Because of the porous nature of hides, genuine leathers made from these skins do not do well when exposed to water. Not only can leather absorb water/liquid and leave behind stain marks, but getting wet can even detract from the leather’s durability. Today we’re going to walk through avoiding water damage to your precious leather backpack or item and what to do if your leather does get wet.

What Can I Do When My Real Leather Gets Wet?

For starters, let’s talk about what to do before your genuine leather even gets wet.

When you first receive your leather backpack, purse, or garment, it’s important to waterproof it before use. Waterproofing your genuine leather will not completely save it from water damage, but it does make it easier to clean should your real leather backpack, wallet, phone case, etc. come in contact with water in the future.

How to Waterproof

First, clean away any dirt or debris from the bag with a cloth or soft toothbrush. Spray the entire bag with a waterproof leather spray, and let it sit for an hour. Add additional coats as necessary (typically around 2-3 coats), then let dry completely before using.

After It Gets Wet

Dry Your Leather

As quickly as possible, you should use a clean cloth to wipe off any excess water. We suggest keeping a clean cloth with your leather backpack or bag so that you have something to quickly wipe it down with.

DO NOT use any kind of heat source (hairdryer, fire, etc.) to dry off the leather. Keep your genuine leather at room temperature, simply use a clean cloth to remove the water, and dry off the bag or backpack.

Follow these waterproofing steps every 3-4 months.

Condition the Leather

Woman conditioning her leather with a clean cloth

After wiping it down (but before it dries out completely), apply a generous layer of leather conditioner to your real leather backpack or bag. This will help replenish the oils that the water drew out of the leather. Let it dry for several hours or overnight.

Waterproof Your Leather

Once the leather has been conditioned and has had a chance to dry overnight, you’ll want to follow the waterproofing instructions to help reduce the amount of damage another encounter with water may cause.

Can Vegan Leather Get Wet?

A little bit. Yep, vegan leather has different standards. 

By nature, vegan leather is much more waterproof than genuine leather. Because of this, you won’t have to worry as much about vegan leather getting exposed to water.

Too much water exposure over an elongated period, however, can lead to damage and stains, so try to be mindful. 

What Can I Do When My Vegan Leather Gets Wet?

We still suggest carrying a clean dry cloth inside your vegan leather backpack or bag, so you can dry off any excess water before it becomes an issue.

Unlike a real leather backpack that must go through conditioning and waterproofing after an encounter with water, vegan leather simply needs to be cleaned off as soon as possible.

Again, DO NOT use an outside heat source, such as a hairdryer, to dry your vegan leather bag; simply use your clean cloth to wipe off the water.

Need a Leather Backpack? Check Out Atlas Supply Co.

Hopefully, you can waterproof your leather backpack or bag early on and avoid contact with water and liquids altogether. But should you ever have an issue with water on your genuine leather, we hope this care guide answers your questions.

If you are in the market for a new vegan leather bag or real leather backpack, Atlas Supply Co. makes incredible bags that work for any type of person. For the wearer of many hats, discover the one bag that does it all!

Shop All Atlas Supply Co. Products

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