Clean A Leather Holster: Treat Inside and Outside with ease

A leather holster is more than an accessory – it’s a symbol of safety, security, and trust.

Did you know that over 51,000 leather holsters are sold every year (in the US) for gun owners? [Source]

I know, That’s a lot of cleaning!

Whether you use your holster every day or just store it away until needed, regular maintenance will help preserve its quality over time.

Leather holsters are uniquely suited to take advantage of their natural ability to absorb oils from skin contact and environmental exposure.

This oil causes the material to become soft and supple but also makes them prone to dirt, sweat, and other contaminants which can cause discoloration and damage if not properly cleaned.

But how do you treat the inside and outside of a leather holster?

To clean a leather holster, wipe it down with a soft cloth to remove dirt and debris. You can also use warm water and saddle soap for more thorough cleanings.

Once the leather has been cleaned, it needs to be conditioned with oil.

Alternatively, you can use Galco’s Leather Lotion or glycerin soap that is specifically designed for leather holsters.

Note: Softening leather with silicone, oil, or any other product marketed as an aid is not recommended.

Keeping the holster looking its best requires regular waxing with products like Angelus Lustre Cream or Carnauba Wax.

Point to be noted, avoid direct sunlight and extreme temperatures while using the holster.

It’s not all about cleaning, we just gave you a brief overview of the process. Downward, let’s take a closer look at the whole process with expert tips.

Choosing The Right Cleaning Materials

Choosing the right cleaning materials for leather holsters is just as important as the process itself.

First off, always opt for natural cleaners when possible. A mild soap solution made from water and castile soap will do wonders in removing dirt and grime without damaging or discoloring the holster.

For tougher stains, try a mixture of white vinegar and lemon juice.

When using either of these solutions, be sure to test them first in an inconspicuous spot before going all-in with your cleaning efforts.

Here are some of the other most important cleaning tools for a leather holster:

  • Leather Lotion: A special wax-free formula designed to gently clean, condition, and preserve finished naked and exotic leathers.
  • Leather Conditioner: This helps to restore moisture and protect the leather from cracking or fading over time.
  • Liquid Glycerin Soap: Used for heavier soiling such as gunpowder residue.
  • Soft Rag: Used to wipe away dust and debris from the exterior of the holster.
  • Sponge or Soft Cloth: Used to wipe down the holster after use in order to slow down perspiration damage.
  • Cleaning Tool Holder: A sturdy, padded belt with strong black leather holsters used to carry squeegees and T-bars.
  • Ballistol: Treats the inside of the holster with an acidic residue that prevents corrosion.

In addition, if any oils become embedded into the holster over time, use a combination of saddle soap and mink oil to restore its softness and shine.

Saddle soap helps remove excess dirt while mink oil acts like a conditioner that penetrates deep into the pores of the leather.

Both should be applied sparingly though – too much can make the material stiff or sticky so take caution!

Cleaning The Exterior Of The Leather Holster

First off, we need to get the basics down for cleaning the exterior of our leather holster.

  • To start, let’s grab some cotton swabs and a damp cloth or rag. You want to avoid any harsh chemicals like bleach, as this could damage your holster.
  • When you’re ready to begin, lightly wet the rag with water and gently wipe down the outside of your holster.
  • Don’t scrub too hard; just make sure that all dirt and dust is removed from it.
  • We don’t wanna ruin our holsters! Once we’ve wiped everything down, take those cotton swabs and dip them in some mild soap mixed with warm water.
  • Carefully rub over every nook and cranny on the surface until they are clean.

Afterward, give it one more gentle rinse with plain water on that cloth or rag before letting it air dry completely.

To make it shiny,

  • You should use neutral shoe polish or paste wax to restore the shine and help protect it from moisture and wear.
  • You can also use Resolene for a nice shine, or Atom wax for a medium mellow shine.

How to apply

  • To apply the polish or wax, you can use a horse hair brush on your drill press or by hand.
  • Once applied, buff out the product with a cloth until it shines.

How to treat the inside of a leather holster?

The last thing you want is for oils or chemicals to build up in the inside of the leather holster and ruin it over time!

So let me give you some tips on how to get that job taken care of correctly.

Step 1: Use a slightly damp cloth with warm water and a mild soap solution. This will help loosen any dirt or grime that has built up inside the holster without damaging the material itself.

Step 2: Then, use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away at any stubborn spots. Make sure not to press too hard as this could damage the stitching or cause discoloration.

Step 3: After you’ve finished scrubbing, use a dry towel to wipe down the entire surface again and remove all traces of moisture.

The holster will also look newer and last longer if you use some sort of leather conditioner afterward, such as mink oil.

Common Cleaning Mistakes To Avoid

Never use any harsh chemicals on your gun belt or holster. Harsh cleaners are too abrasive against this type of material, causing permanent discoloration over time.

*The following warning was given at the beginning of the cleaning overview.

Instead, stick to specialized leather cleaners designed specifically for holsters and belts. This will help keep the color vibrant and make sure no unnecessary wear occurs during cleanings.

Next up, don’t forget to condition after each cleaning session!

Conditioners are necessary for replenishing oils lost from regular usage; plus they provide an extra layer of protection against dirt and debris build-up.

Natural oil-based products work best since they won’t leave behind any residue like synthetic ones would – always check the labels before buying though!

The final advice is to wipe your holster down with a soft cloth instead of paper towels with rough edges that may scratch the leather.

Tips For Protecting The Leather Holster

The first thing to do is to avoid moisture coming into contact with the leather.

Leather is like skin – when it gets wet and stays wet for too long, mold and mildew will start growing on it.

Use waterproofing sprays or waxes to protect against rain and sweat.

Also, don’t store your holsters near sources of heat, direct sunlight, or any other damp environments if you can avoid them.

Another way to preserve your holster is by using a conditioning treatment every now and then.

This helps keep the leather soft and supple while also preventing cracking over time.

In order to maintain the material’s structure, you might want to use mink oil or beeswax, both of which are great at preserving it.

Keep the inner lining clean with a gentle cloth or brush regularly – this will prevent dirt buildup from damaging the gun barrel or slide!


How often should you clean your leather holster?

In general, leather holsters should be cleaned with soap every three to four months, and treated if they are used frequently, every six to twelve months.

What happens if you don’t clean your holster?

If you don’t clean your holster, it can become dusty, dry, or gunky. Here are some potential consequences of not cleaning your holster:

Damage to your gun
A holster filled with dirt and debris can scratch or damage your firearm’s finish, affecting its appearance and value.

Malfunction of your gun
Dirty holsters can interfere with the functionality of your firearm, such as getting debris into the trigger mechanism and preventing it from working correctly.

Hygiene issues
If you keep your firearm in a dirty holster for a long period of time, sweat and bacteria will accumulate, creating unpleasant odors.

Safety issues
Holsters that are not regularly cleaned can become loose or misshapen, posing a safety hazard when the firearm falls out.

What not to do with a leather holster?

  • Do not throw the holster in the washing machine or dishwasher
  • Dry it with a fan, not a hairdryer
  • Solvents are not recommended as they can emit strong fumes and damage plastic parts
  • Don’t use a scrub brush
  • While washing your car, make sure it’s not left on the hood
Oliver Savoy
Oliver Savoy