A key part of leather care is conditioning it to keep the leather from drying out and cracking. So really, step number one to fix cracking leather is: condition it so you don’t end up with cracked leather in the first place. But if you’ve found yourself in the possession of a cracked or cracking leather bag, you’ll need to decide if you want to replace it or repair it. Here’s how to fix it if you’re up for the challenge:
Clean the surface of the cracks and surrounding leather with a soft, dry brush or cloth to remove any dirt or dust. Next, use a shoe dauber (or any small, fine-bristled brush) to apply saddle soap to the leather cracks, cleaning them more deeply. Saddle soap includes mild soap and softeners, and when you’ve finished cleaning the damaged leather, it should be soft and flexible in order to move onto the next step.
Dab the cracking areas with mink oil or neatsfoot oil, using gentle pressure to smooth the oil into and over the cracks. The back of a spoon works well for this. Continue this until the appearance of the cracks is less pronounced. Gently wipe off extra oil. (Be sure to spot test the oil in an inconspicuous area first so you can see any effect it may have on the coloring of the leather.)
You may be pleased with the softer look and texture of the cracking areas by this point, but do not forget to apply a leather conditioner to the treated area and the surrounding leather as well. Continue to apply conditioner to the entire leather bag once a month to keep it in good condition and prevent further drying and cracking.