Many men forget that regular belt care is essential to keeping their black belt lasting longer. If you really want your belt to serve you for a lifetime, you need to treat it the way it deserves to be treated. Below, you will find everything you need to know about taking care of your belt, from basic tips on belt care, to a step-by-step guide on cleaning your belt.
Why Do You Need to Wear a Belt, Anyway?
If you’re tempted to go beltless because you want to avoid belt maintenance, we’ve put together a few reasons why you need to wear a belt.
#1 Your Pants Were Meant to Be Worn With Belts
In 1922, Levi’s introduced belt loops that allowed men to wear their trousers in whatever way they wanted. Belt loops allowed them to wear their pants properly, and even if today’s pants fit better, people have gotten used to wearing their pants with a belt. That is the reason why nearly all of the pants out there come with belt loops.
It’s hard to find pants that fit perfectly, so being able to tighten your pants on an as-needed basis is a plus. Besides, wearing pants with belt loops but without a belt doesn’t seem right. While you can always get a tailor to get rid of the loops, belts are a must on certain occasions. Going beltless would be a fashion faux pas if you were to attend a soiree, for example.
#2 Belts Don’t Make You Look Basic
How would your friends describe the way you dress? If their answer is “basic”, that’s probably because you don’t wear a belt.
Wearing a belt is a great way to elevate your outfit, giving it some “oomph”. If your everyday outfit consists of a t-shirt and trousers, consider adding a belt to make it look sleeker. Going beltless makes you look like you grabbed the first thing you could find in your closet. On the other hand, wearing a belt makes you look like you actually put some effort into your outfit. In other words, a belt can completely change how your colleagues see you.
#3 Belts Can Elongate Your Body
Belts do more than hold your pants up. If you’ve ever wanted to add a few inches to your height, invest in a good belt that can create that illusion. Want to make your legs look longer? Wear a belt that’s in the same color as your trousers. Want to look slim without working out? You can conceal your stomach area by wearing a belt that matches the color of your bottoms.
#4 Belts Last a Long Time
Chances are, your belt will last longer than all of the trousers you own. If you choose your belt wisely, you won’t need to buy a new belt every few years – it’s an investment! And since your belt will last that long, you no longer need to buy a new pair of pants whenever you go on a weight loss journey. While you’re “in between” waistlines, you can just tighten your belt until you reach your goal weight. That’s more economical than buying new pants that will be too big for you a few months from now.
Why You Need to Take Care of Your Belt
Neglecting regular belt maintenance can cause damage. Your belt is meant to last an incredibly long time, but unfortunately, belt owners don't understand that it takes constant care to keep the belt lasting longer.
The only way to keep your belt lasting long is by taking good care of it. After all, you wouldn't want to buy a new belt yearly, would you? Taking care of your belt doesn't only make you look sleek, but it also preserves your savings.
In addition, taking care of your black belt can prevent cracks. Keep in mind that the moment your leather belt cracks, there’s no going back. To prolong its life, regular cleaning and conditioning are essential.
How to Take Care of Your Belt
Don’t know how to take care of your belt? To keep your black belt looking good as new, we’ve put together a few tips on how to take care of your belt:
#1 Hang Your Belt
If you tend to roll your belt, it’s time to stop. Your belt should be able to breathe by the end of the day. Since your belt spends the entire day wrapped around your waist, it needs time to be in its “resting” position. It will last longer when you hang it on a hanger since this lessens the tension that would otherwise cause creases. So, instead of throwing your belt in your drawer, hang it with the rest of the things in your wardrobe.
#2 Alternate Between Two Belts
Wearing the same belt twice in a row can wear it out. It’s best to alternate between two belts to allow each belt time to rest. If you have a reversible belt, avoid wearing it too often as it will wear out a lot faster. Consider purchasing a black belt and a brown belt since these kinds of belts go with any look.
Remember to lay your belt out flat afterward. When alternating between two belts, never leave the previous belt on your pants as this can cause it to curl.
#3 Keep it Away From Water
Water is every belt’s worst enemy – even a leather belt’s. Whenever your belt gets wet, air-dry it stat. Don’t allow your belt to absorb the water as this can result in nasty stains. Instead, pat it with a towel and allow it to dry on its own. Don’t speed up the process by using a hairdryer because the material can become brittle. If possible, lather leather oil to the belt so that it retains its shine.
And, yes – this applies to sweat, as well. We’d say, “Don’t sweat it,” but when it comes to belt care, you should be worried.
#4 Wear the Right Belt Size
Size does matter – when it comes to belts, anyway. A belt’s that too big for your waist can result in creases, while a belt that’s too small can cause it to rip apart. The easiest way to ensure that your belt is long-lasting is to get the sizing right.
How to Measure Your Belt Size
Based on Your Belt
Do you own a well-fitting belt? Lay it down flat on the floor and measure it from the hole you usually use to the end of the belt. Remember to measure in inches and to round up – it’s better to buy a belt that’s a bit too big than too tight.
Based on Your Pants
This is the easiest way to measure your belt size. All you need to do is to add two inches to your trouser size. If you wear 38-inch trousers, a 40-inch belt would be a safe bet. Keep in mind that this method works for belts that are worn on the waist. If you’re looking for a belt to wear with low-rise trousers, make sure to add four inches instead of two.
Based on Your Waist
Threading a tape measure through the belt loop is the ideal way to measure your optimal belt size. Make sure to stand in a natural position when taking your measurements – no sucking in! Simply pass the tap measure through the loops like a regular belt, making sure that it’s snugly wrapped around your waist.
#5 Keep Your Belt Away From the Sun
Keep your belt from cracking by keeping it away from the sun. Cracking is one of the worst things that could happen to your belt, so keep it away from the window, or from anywhere that’s emitting heat.
#6 Condition Your Belt
Save yourself from having to buy a new belt by investing in a leather conditioner. This product nourishes your belt and develops its natural patina over time. It is absorbed by the leather, strengthening its fibers and protecting its fabric from stains. Think of it as a ‘holy grail’ product that will keep your belt looking like new.
Signs Your Belt Needs Cleaning
Want to make sure your black belt lasts as long as possible? We already tackled the dos and don’ts when it comes to taking care of your belt, but the best way to keep your black belt lasting longer is by cleaning it regularly.
Since a belt isn’t cheap (a luxury belt can be as expensive as one thousand dollars!), it’s important to know how to take care of it. If you don’t, you’ll have to invest in another belt and spend more money than you had intended.
So, how can you tell if your belt needs to be cleaned? Here are a few signs that it needs cleaning now:
#1 Your Belt Feels Stiff
A stiff belt won’t be able to perfectly wrap around your waist. If you feel that the fibers in your belt are stiffening up, that’s a sure sign that it needs cleaning. We recommend buying a belt conditioner so that it stays pliable.
#2 Your Belt is Stained
Did you spill your drink on your belt? Clean it as soon as possible, or else you’ll never be able to remove the stain. If it’s water, you can pat it away with a towel, but if it’s another kind of drink (like wine, for example), you need to work fast. Dried-up wine can be stubborn, so be sure to blot as much of it as possible.
#3 Your Belt Smells Bad
If you’re wearing a leather belt, be aware that it will absorb odors like sweat and smoke. It’s natural for leather to do that, however, you shouldn’t allow your belt to get that bad.
Another sign that your belt needs cleaning is its smell. If your belt is starting to reek, take it off and soak it in baking soda.
How to Clean Your Belt
Fortunately, cleaning your black belt doesn’t take a lot of materials. Below, we’ll go over a few of the ways to clean your belt with items you already own:
#1 How to Clean Your Belt With Baking Soda
Baking soda works wonders when it comes to putting an end to your belt’s odors. Keep in mind, however, that this method isn’t cheap since you need around twenty packs of backing soda. This is because you’ll need to submerge your whole belt in it.
To deodorize your belt, drop your black belt into a zip-lock bag. Then, pour baking soda over the belt until it is entirely enveloped. Seal it, and then leave it to sit overnight. After 24 hours, empty the zip-lock bag and your belt should be deodorized. Use a gentle brush to get rid of the baking soda on the black belt.
#2 How to Clean Your Belt With Vinegar
Vinegar doesn’t have the most pleasant scent, but it can effectively counteract foul odors. But be careful – before you apply vinegar to your belt, do a spot test first to see if it doesn’t cause discoloration. Choose a tiny area on your belt to test by combining white vinegar with water, and if there’s no discoloration after a couple of minutes, you’re good to go.
Using a rag, wipe the vinegar solution over the surface of the belt. Allow it to air-dry, and if the odor persists, consider soaking the black belt in the solution.
#3 How to Clean Your Belt With Cornstarch
Oil-based stains can be tough to remove but cornstarch can save your belt. For new stains, sprinkle cornstarch on the black belt to absorb the oil. For old stains, clean the stained spot first with a cloth, and then coat the spot in cornstarch. You'll need to rub the cornstarch into the material to speed up the process.
#4 How to Clean Your Belt With Rubbing Alcohol
Small stains like pen marks can be stubborn, so you'll need something strong like rubbing alcohol. However, be careful when using rubbing alcohol to get rid of stains, as this chemical doesn't go hand-in-hand with leather. That's why you should always use a cotton swab to ensure that you apply it to that one area only.
Gently rub the area with the alcohol, and then dry it with a blow dryer.
#5 How to Clean Your Belt With Soap
Soap is one of the most common materials to use to clean a belt. You can choose between two types of soap: saddle soap and Castile Soap.
The first type of soap is called saddle soap, which is a compound used to clean, condition, and protect leather products. Cleaning your belt with saddle soap can restore it to its original condition. Castile Soap, on the other hand, is a vegetable-based soap that doesn’t contain chemicals, making it perfect for people that are looking for mild cleaning products that won’t damage their leather goods.
To use saddle soap, simply apply it over the belt and then rub it with a damp towel until it’s removed. If your belt has oily spots, you can apply additional dry-cleaning fluid before adding castor oil to condition it.
To use Castile Soap, rub a damp cloth onto the soap bar, and then rub that cloth on the belt. Be sure to maintain a rapid motion to really get rid of the dirt and stains. Use another damp cloth to rinse the area, and repeat the process until the belt is completely clean.
Signs You Need a Brand New Belt
Sometimes, cleaning isn’t enough. Take a good look at your black belt and be on the lookout for the following signs that you need to swap it for a brand new belt:
#1 Your Belt Still Smells
Your belt isn’t supposed to develop a stench over time. If it still smells even after you’ve soaked it in baking soda, it’s time to find a new belt. The reality is that some belts (particularly the cheap ones) aren’t cut out for long life.
#2 Your Belt Feels Uncomfortable
Your belt shouldn’t feel like a contraption that pokes and stabs your sides. It should wrap around your waist snugly. If your belt is starting to feel uncomfortable, there’s a good chance that it’s no longer right for your waistline.
#3 Your Belt is Too Worn-Out
It’s time for your belt to retire. Wearing a worn-out belt makes you look unkempt, so throw it away and get a new belt for a better getup. That way, you’ll appear more formal and professional. Besides, once your belt cracks, there’s no going back. You can attempt to repair it, but it won’t last long enough.
#4 Your Belt Buckle Doesn't Work
What's the point in keeping a belt with a buckle that doesn't work? Your belt is supposed to keep your pants up, but with a broken buckle, it won't be able to do that. Toss out your belt if it can't be fastened correctly. You do not want your belt to let go without warning.
#5 You Don't Like How Your Belt Looks
That $20 belt you bought when you got out of college shouldn't be the same belt that you wear now. While no one's going to call you out for wearing an old belt, it can cause you to feel self-conscious. Be confident in how you look by buying a belt that works for you.
Belt cleaning should be done four times a year if you wear your belt regularly. However, the belt care tips we mentioned, such as hanging your belt and alternating between two belts, should be done daily.
By taking care of your belt, you can keep it lasting longer, saving you from having to buy a brand new belt every few months. Belt care can also keep your belt looking brand new as long as possible.