How to Properly Store a Genuine Leather Chamois
Cleaning a Genuine Leather Chamois after Use
A genuine leather chamois cloth should always be properly cleaned prior to storing. Allowing a chamois leather to dry with grit and grime in the fibers can significantly shorten the life of the cloth. After each use, a chamois cloth should be washed thoroughly in clean soapy water, wrung out and rinsed several times to remove any dirt or grit it may have pulled from the finish during the drying process. The dirt and grit that a chamois pulls into its fiber structure as it cleans and dries a vehicles surface will become abrasive over time and make the chamois much stiffer and less malleable when dried. Washing the grime and dirt out of the chamois after each use will insure the cloth performs as intended and extend its life.
Cleaning a Chamois with the Wrong Soap or With Chemicals Will Destroy It
A natural leather chamois cloth should always be washed in clean water with the same mild car wash soap used on the vehicle. NEVER wash a chamois in general purpose soaps or those intended for other uses. One of the most common mistakes when cleaning a genuine leather chamois is washing it in the washing machine and drying it in the dryer. Dish soaps, such as dawn, are degreasers that are specifically designed to break up grease and oils, and will strip the tanning oils from the chamois (and if used on a vehicle will completely strip the wax finish).
Washing a chamois with a degreaser (such as Dawn dish soap or Simple Green), chemicals (such as bleach or ammonia) laundry detergents (powdered or liquid), or any other soaps not intended specifically for use on a vehicles finish, can remove the tanning oils that protect the leather. Stripping the protective oils from the cloth will cause the now unprotected leather to rot and fall apart. A chamois that has had the tanning oils stripped from it will quickly become brittle, dry, may develop holes, and will begin to shed, leaving pieces of itself, in the form of lint, on the surface being dried.
Hanging a Chamois Cloth Out to Dry
Before hanging up, the cleaned chamois can be stretched, by pulling on opposite edges, back to its original (roughly rectangular) form. Once reshaped, the chamois should be hung up and left until completely dry. Be sure to hand the chamois away from direct sunlight. Leaving a little soap in the chamois leather when storing will not damage the cloth.
Never store a wet chamois in a sealed bag or any other air-tight container. A damp chamois should also never be hung up to dry in extreme cold. If the water in the chamois freezes, the fibers will break as the water expands, prematurely aging the leather. Once properly dried, a chamois can easily be re-softened for use wet or dry.
Softening a Dry Stiff Leather Chamois
A leather chamois can become extremely stiff once dry, especially if not properly washed out. However, a stiff chamois cloth is easily re-softened by re-wetting or by rubbing it against itself (for dry use or easy folding).
To soften a stiff dry chamois, rub the leather against itself or draw it back and forth across the edge of a clean surface while gripping it by the opposite ends. A dry softened chamois can be used to remove smudges and dust from smartphones, computer screens, windows and appliances. A dry chamois cloth that has been softened is also much easier to fold for storing.
A dried stiff chamois cloth can also be softened by simply re-wetting. No special instructions or precautions are required. A damp or wetted leather chamois is great for drying windows, mirrors, stainless steel surfaces as well as vehicles.
Properly Storing a Genuine Chamois Cloth
After the Natural leather Chamois has been properly washed, rinsed, wring out, stretched out, hung up until completely dry, re-softened and folded, then it is ready to be stored. To maximize the life of the natural chamois cloth, it should be stored in a cool, dry place away from any chemicals, damp or direct sunlight.