Snakeskin leather is envied by many for its exotic appeal. Nothing makes a bold, luxurious statement like a python handbag or knee-high cobra scale boots. But what does taking care of exotic leather entail? How cost effective is snakeskin shoe repair? Can snakeskin wallets be stain treated?

Our complete guide will show you how to get the longest life out of your snakeskin leather products and help you decide when professional service is the best route to take. We’ll walk through straightforward processes for cleaning and conditioning your snakeskin without damaging it and answer your most pressing questions.

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Snake Skin Leather Repairs, Care Guide for Shoes, Handbags & Wallets


How durable is snake skin leather?

By most measures, snakeskin is not very durable.

Durability is somewhat of a vague term, and this becomes clear when you try to evaluate the durability of snakeskin leather. If you are talking about the stability and strength of the leather, then snakeskin is pretty resistant to being torn or stretched.

However, the surface of snakeskin is made of very delicate scales, each of which is highly prone to damage or peeling. Therefore, snakeskin leather products require gentle use and regular care. They have the potential for a long lifetime, but only when meticulously taken care of.


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How do you care for snakeskin leather?

Since they aren’t as durable and long lasting as cowhide leather, here is what you can do to take care of your snakeskin products.

Be gentle

While a whole piece of snake skin leather is strong and durable, the individual scales are quite delicate. Each can be damaged on its own, even if all the scales around it are perfectly fine.

For you, this means you need to be especially gentle with the surface of your snakeskin products. If you need to rub or wipe them, always do so with the direction of the scales—not against it. Likewise, be careful not to scuff them on the curb or corners of walls. In general, just avoid as much contact with the outer surface of the shoe or wallet as possible.

Avoid water

Water can be very detrimental to snakeskin leather, which seems counterintuitive because many snakes thrive in watery environments. But once you’ve made a handbag or a pair of shoes out of it, snake skin leather isn’t meant to get wet.

Water can cause permanent stains or make the dye run. Furthermore, if moisture builds up underneath the scales, they might start to peel and crack. Small amounts of water are okay when cleaning snakeskin, but don’t bring them out in the rain or wear them near the pool.

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The most important step when caring for snakeskin is conditioning the leather –


Avoid heat

Similarly, live snakes love the heat, but snakeskin boots? Not so much. Excessive heat can permanently crack or shrivel the leather.

It is okay to wear your snakeskin leather out on a hot day. What you need to avoid is direct high heat. Keep your products away from heating vents, radiators and fireplaces. And don’t try to dry them out with a blow dryer.

Avoid direct sunlight

Don’t worry. You don’t have to limit your snakeskin to shady days. It’s okay to carry that purse if the sun is shining. However, you need to be careful that your snake skin leather avoids prolonged direct contact with the sun. Otherwise, they could become discoloured.

If you’re sunbathing on the lawn, for example, put your bag or shoes in a shady spot. When storing snake skin in your house, make sure it is in a cool dry place away from windows.


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Keep it clean

Try to avoid situations in which your snakeskin leather might get dirty. For example, don’t wear it out somewhere that you are going to kick up a lot of dust or earth. Avoid ashy environments like fire pits as well. Because the scales are so delicate, you can extend the life of your snakeskin by minimising how often you need to clean it.

When it does get dirty, or at least twice a year, you want to give your snakeskin leather a gentle cleaning by following these tips:

  • Avoid commercial cleaners. These are too harsh for fragile snake leather and could ruin your items.
  • Use a very, very lightly dampened cloth. Instead of a cleaning product, go for old-fashioned tap water. Apply a small amount to a soft cloth. Do not soak the cloth. It should feel damp to the touch but not leave water droplets on your finger.
  • Rub slowly in the direction of the scales. You can tell the right direction by lightly running your finger tip along the surface. If it feels rough or scratchy, you’re going the wrong way. Keep your pressure very light with the cloth. Just enough to remove any surface dirt
  • Let the leather dry. If you used an appropriate amount of water, your leather might be mostly dry by the time you are done cleaning. If there is any visible water, dab it up with a clean cloth. After that, set your snakeskin leather products down in a cool place to air dry the rest of the way.
  • Leave stain treatment to the pros. The above method is best for routine cleaning of accumulated dirt, dust and similar surface-level contaminants. If you have stains that need to be treated, such as a grease or wine spill, your best bet is to contact a professional.


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Snakeskin while beautiful, does require it’s own special care regime. –

How do you condition snakeskin leather?

About twice a year, you should follow your cleaning of snakeskin products with conditioning in order to preserve the strength and shine of the leather. Here is a simple, effective process for conditioning snakeskin leather:

  • Use a reptile leather conditioner. Don’t use the same stuff that you use for your cowhide boots. It will leave residue and potentially damage the scales. Find a conditioner that is formulated for reptile leather. These are sometimes labeled for “exotic leather”. Foaming conditioners are preferred over cream-based or liquid ones because they are better at gently reaching the crevices between scales.
  • Test the conditioner. Before you rub it all over your snakeskin, find a discreet spot to test it on. That way, if the conditioner does happen to stain your leather, it won’t ruin the shoe.
  • Apply and let it dry. Use a soft, lint-free cloth to slowly and gently cover the leather in the conditioner. Remember to only rub with the scales to avoid damaging them. Once the entire surface is covered, let the boots sit for about 15 – 20 minutes until the conditioner dries.
  • Buff the conditioner out. Using a new cloth, gently rub the leather in the direction of the scales to remove the dried conditioner. This may take multiple cloths and multiple runs over the surface. As you buff out the conditioner, the colour should return to the snakeskin.
  • Apply waterproofing. Once the leather is conditioned and buffed, this is the ideal time to apply a waterproofing agent. Just make sure to use one that is designed for reptile skin. And, just like your conditioner, test it out in an unobtrusive spot first.

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Can snake skin be repaired?

Yes, rips, scuffs, holes, tears and similar damage in snakeskin can be repaired. However, the process is much more intensive than repairing traditional leather.

Snakeskin shoe repair, for example, typically involves recreating each individual scale, piece by piece. This could be done with stock snake skins, but finding a matching skin isn’t always possible.

Another method of repair involves using a leather filler. It is brushed on in thin coats, applying multiple layers until the height of the patch matches the existing scales. Following this, the scaly shape needs to be mimicked, often by using a needle or similarly sharp, thin tool. Finally, colour-matching is achieved by custom mixing leather paint and applying it to individual scales.


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Snakeskin is usually very stable leather, but the scales are sensitive. Damage should be avoided because snakeskin in most cases cannot be repaired. Often, the friction against the grain make the scales stand-up over time and this cannot be reversed. We recommend taking extreme care during cleaning and application of care products to avoid friction against the grain. –


Are snake skin repairs cost effective?

If you couldn’t tell from the description above, snakeskin shoe repair is a very time consuming process. It requires specialised materials and an expert hand. This means it is also much more expensive than traditional leather repair.

So, for most people, snake skin isn’t cost effective to repair. However, if your shoes or handbag have a lot of sentimental value, the cost might be worth it to you. Likewise, your particular item might no longer be available to replace, in which case snakeskin leather repair could be your only option.


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Can you restore snake skin boots?

Yes, even tall snake skin boots can be restored. However, keep in mind that the size of the damage directly correlates to the cost and time of repairs. It would be tough for most owners to justify the cost of restoring snakeskin boots that are worn, discoloured and peeling from top to bottom. If the damage is localised to a small area, though, and the boots are precious to you, restoring them could be a reasonable option.

Get professional snakeskin leather care from Cobbleron

As we’ve learned, snakeskin leather is very delicate, and getting the best life out of yours requires regular cleaning and conditioning, as well as meticulous care. When it comes to repairs or stain treatment, an expert is the sure way to go. But you may even want the peace of mind of professional care for routine maintenance.

Whatever you need when it comes to taking care of your snakeskin leather shoes, handbags, wallets and more, Cobbleron is here for you. Reach out to our professionals today to learn how we can help.

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