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Cowhide Leather

A Small Note on Cowhide Leather and its Maintenance Requisites

Extracted from cow's skin, this leather is used to make purses, belts, jackets, and furniture. Soft, strong, and highly durable, cowhide leather goods are much cheaper compared to other types of hides. Let's learn what this leather is, how it is made, and how to clean it.
HomeQuicks Staff
Last Updated: Oct 17, 2018
Cowhide
Most leather goods available in the USA today are made from cow's skin. There are many different types of leather extracted from other sources, but cowhide is affordable and less expensive than the others.
In case of superior quality hide, the original color of the bovine is retained, while a dyeing procedure is performed for low-grade hide. This is how you get cowhide goods in zebra, tiger, and other animal prints.
What Exactly Is Cowhide Leather?
As the name suggests, cowhide leather is a product of cattle. It is a valuable byproduct of cattle industries which mainly focus on meat production. After the meat is harvested, the skin is taken off to make leather products.
Prior to using it for clothing and furniture, natural hide tanning with plant bark extracts are followed to make it soft, supple, and odor free. This step is followed by drying the skin to improve molting resistance and increase its life. The quality is determined during and after the tanning process.
Hides that have bruised marks are separated to make smaller accessories. Based on the texture and imperfections, there are several quality grades of leather. While some have a smooth texture, there are some with coarse grains. Also, the original hide is split into different layers.
While the top layer with hair is called top grain (hair-on leather), the underlying layers are collectively known as split grain (tanned leather). For jackets and clothing, split grain of about 1.5-2 mm is used. Hence, most jackets have nearly the same thickness, irrespective of the source.
Cleaning Process
Cowhide furniture is considered a good home investment. They have an unmatchable class of their own. For any type of leather, proper maintenance is the key to increase its durability. Dust and dirt accumulated in these goods makes them brittle over time.
To avoid such cases, adhere to these care instructions here:
  • After cleaning a small section, rinse the area immediately with clean water. Also, remember to wash the rag thoroughly before moving to a new section.
  • To clean hair-on hide, you can use a vacuum cleaner if you are cleaning after a long time. Comb the hair with a soft-toothed brush to avoid tangling.
  • Keep the items in cloth bags. This promotes air circulation and helps in keeping the items moist. Likewise, the leather should not be kept damp or wet for a long time.
  • Leather should be maintained moist and healthy. Always keep the goods in a cool and well-ventilated area. Except for occasional drying, protect them from getting exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Care guidelines differ depending upon whether you have top grain or split grain leather. Top grain treatment is done with oils to give the best texture. It requires gentle cleaning and dusting to remove accumulated dirt.
  • While cleaning tanned hide, rush gently to remove dust and dirt. Moisten a clean rag, apply some saddle soap on it, and rub in circular motions. Clean a small area at a time.
  • For stain removal, simply soak the stain with a paper towel. For mold stains, use a diluted solution of rubbing alcohol. For coffee spills or other stains, consider using dilute vinegar.
Whether you own cowhide bags or designer jackets, the care tips remain the same. After cleaning, air dry the leather in sunlight (avoid exposure to other heat sources). Give it a finishing touch by applying a leather conditioner.