Self-sufficient cowboys out on the range in summer often carry a line and clothespins so they can was a few “necessaries” without having to go back to the ranch or into town. What they have to clean the most carefully are their leather gloves. Here’s some tips on cleaning leather from old cowboy lore found in The Clothesline, by Irene Rawlings et al.
Leather gloves are very important in a cowboy’s life to protect his hands from the harsh cold winters ridding fences and from rope burns during branding time in the spring.
When cowboys have been out in the rainstorm and their gloves have gotten wet, they hang them out to dry on a lead rope in the shelter of the back of a horse trailer. When the gloves are damp dry, they can be stretched back into shape by simply putting them on and going back to work.
To clean white or tan gloves, put them on your hands and douse in vodka. Remove gloves and they will dry quickly. Put in the sun to remove the vodka odor by hanging on a clothesline with, yes, clothespins. Wash your hands thoroughly.
To clean dark leather, mix 1 cup (pure) linseed oil with 1 cup white vinegar. Wipe onto dirty leather using a clean cloth. Let stand for a few minutes. Wipe off and polish with a clean soft cloth.
To keep leather soft, rub with a soft cloth dampened in Castor oil.
Adapted from The Clothesline, by Irene Rawlings and Andrea Vansteenhouse (Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2002).