Sure, leather can get wet - but it’s not a great idea. The main problem when you get leather wet actually arises as the leather dries. When leather gets wet, the oils in the leather bind to the water molecules. As the water dries and evaporates, it draws out the oils with it. The leather’s loss of natural oils causes it to lose its supple quality and turn brittle.
Although it’s not ideal, wet leather is not a hopeless loss, but it needs to be addressed right away. If you’ve been caught in the rain and your leather bag or jacket is soaked, try these steps to prevent your leather from becoming brittle.
1. Gently wipe off any standing water and allow it to naturally dry to the point of being damp - but not dry. (Do NOT apply unnatural heat, like a blow dryer.) For a jacket, hang it on a wide, padded hanger. For bags or shoes, stuff them with crumpled newspaper to help hold their shape.
2. While the leather is still damp, apply a reasonably thick coat of leather conditioner. Massage the conditioner into the surface of the leather and leave it to dry for several hours or overnight. The conditioner will penetrate the leather through the pores left open from the evaporating water and will replenish the stripped oils.
3. If it seems overly dry in places, apply additional conditioner to those areas and buff the entire surface of the leather. After you’ve taken care of the wet leather situation, you can apply a water and stain repellent before it gets wet again.