How To Take Proper Care of Your Leather Strap-On Harness

Recently, an Autostraddle reader wrote into us with this request:

“I need advice on caring for leather items. Like for example the leather strap-on harness I bought over a decade ago which has mostly been sitting around in a drawer. How do I make it supple? How do I keep it from getting dry and cracked? What is up with the squeaky noise it makes? I am confident that at least one of Autostraddle’s fine writers can take this on. Because I can’t be the only one who needs to know.”

I’m not much of a Leather Daddy, so I’m not a total expert in this, but I do like to keep my leather nice and happy, and have a routine to take care of it.

Leather is skin, and just like your skin, it needs to be cleaned when it’s dirty. And even more importantly, unlike your skin, it’s not continually making it’s own oils anymore and no longer-self moisturizes. Every time you wash it, or even just use it, it loses a little or a lot of it’s moisture and oils. So you need to add it back with a leather conditioner.

strap on cleaning products

1 / Huberd’s Shoe Grease
2 / Leather Honey
3 / Fiebing’s White Saddle Soap
4 / Kiwi Horsehair Polish Applicator

I recommend cleaning your harness with saddle soap, and not harsher dish or hand soap. I use Fiebing’s white saddle soap and a wooden brush to clean all my leather (my shoes too!). I try not to use a ton of water, and I use a wet cotton cloth to wipe off the soap after I lather it.

Then, once dry, I moisturize it with a leather conditioner like Leather Honey or Huberd’s Shoe Grease or Huberd’s Shoe Oil. I don’t personally recommend using anything made with animal fats (like mink oil) as the oils can get rancid smelling. I prefer a beeswax base usually. I also don’t recommend any shoe polish products, look for something specifically labeled ‘leather conditioner’.

Most conditioners will darken your leather, so if you care, be sure to test it first on a small area you don’t really see. Note the Huberd’s WILL darken leather, but I think it smells great and outdoorsy, and I don’t mind and use it anyway. You might not like this smokey pine smell as much as I do, so you may want to smell it before buying.

Don’t be afraid to apply liberally, you can always wipe off what doesn’t soak in. Since I’m assuming this hasn’t been done in the course of the 10 years you’ve had this harness as you mention dry, cracked, and squeaky leather, you may need to add a few applications until it feels supple again. You can use an additional brush to put this on, or just use a cloth or your hands. I normally use my hands and massage it in, and then use a paper towel to wipe up the excess after I’ve let it sit for 15 mins or so. Note, this is not recommended for suede or nubuck leather.

Also note that I don’t think there’s a way to sterilize a leather harness. While washing it is great, I don’t think it’s totally safe to use with multiple partners within a short period of time if you and your partner(s) are people who care about these things. You can use a combo of anti-bacterial soap and rubbing alcohol, but leather is very porous, so I do not trust that to be clean enough to kill everything. For that reason, I use the Spare Parts Joque with multiple partners.

Any kinky bootblacks reading this want to add any additional leather care knowledge in the comments?

I'm the tech director for Autostraddle, which means I oversee all the tech-related stuff and do anything from coding the website to keeping the servers online. I also enjoy finding ways technology can make it easier for our writers to work. Apart from Autostraddle, I really enjoy making things, breaking things and then fixing them again, taking pictures, getting outside, making food, working on my house and garden, and travel. They/them.

cee has written 16 articles for us.

5 Comments

  1. I don’t know about leather from a sex perspective but I did ride horses for many years so I have some favorite leather care products for completely different reasons! Specifically this soap, which smells like jasmine and is also conditioning enough that you only have to condition occasionally if you use it regularly: http://www.suppleleathercleaner.com/

    And this conditioner which is the most moisturizing thing I’ve ever tried and can revive even really dried and damaged leather: https://www.amazon.com/Passier-Lederbalsam-500-Sohn-GmbH/dp/B003NYF6CM

  2. Seeing the title of this article and thinking “does nobody else play baseball or own leather purses?” might only be slightly less gay than a leather strap on harness. My parents should be so proud they taught me everything I needed for this moment.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.