The holster you use to secure your defensive handgun to your body for concealed carry is almost as important as the gun itself. A quick Google search will give you dozens upon dozens of articles about how to keep your gun clean and well-maintained, but there’s much less information out there about how to do the same for your holster. Part of the reason why is that, unlike a gun, being “dirty” won’t necessarily keep the holster from functioning … but it may keep you from wanting to wear it every day (phew, stinky). Here’s the lazy woman’s guide to keeping your holsters as minty-fresh as the day you unboxed them, courtesy of the holster experts at CrossBreed Holsters.
Let’s start with the DON’Ts, since one of these could potentially ruin your holster. First, regardless of the holster’s construction, don’t throw it in the washing machine. This goes double for the dishwasher. Definitely don’t use a hairdryer to dry it—you would be shocked at how quickly that heat can warp some components. Finally, don’t use a scrub brush. The key word when it comes to holster maintenance is “gentle,” even if the holster itself is quite tough.
So now that we know what not to do, here are some best practices. First, we’ve got some good news if your holster is constructed of Kydex. That modern polymer is designed for easy cleaning, and all you’ll need to do is give it a good wipe with a warm damp cloth.
But many holsters aren’t constructed completely or partially of Kydex. Leather remains an extremely popular option and for good reason, but it is a bit tougher to maintain. (Emphasis on “bit.”) CrossBreed holsters recommends that if warm water and elbow grease don't cut it, you should use saddle soap. Saddle soap is pure glycerin soap and leather friendly but remember, less is more. Use it sparingly; no more than a dime-sized amount.
That, of course, is not the end of the story. Just as with your hair and skin, after you wash, you should moisturize and condition. Saddle Butter is a great choice and works well for all leather holsters. If you don’t like the smell of Saddle Butter, try Fiebings 4 Way Care. Interestingly, you should only apply the conditioning oil to the gun side of the leather…the side that touches your skin will be kept nice and supple by your body oils.
You’re almost done: Now you just want to give your holster a quick inspection. Inside the Waistband (IWB) holsters frequently have metal clips that secure them; check to make sure that they’re still tight-fitting and free of rust.
If any of the clips, washers, screws or other small components are rusty or appear compromised, order a new set and give your holster a tune-up. Keep taking good care of it, and it will keep taking good care of you!