How to keep chamois moist

June 30, 2011 at 08:59 PM ·

Hello, I am new here. Sorry this might be a bit off topic but I really don't know where else to ask.


I am a beginner college student just started violin few months ago. The violin never felt comfortable on my shoulder due to my long neck. After reading extensively on the theory of tall chinrest and shouldrestless, I decided to give it a try. I got a shammy from my local auto store and gave it a good wash to neutralize the scent. But now I can't get it to stay smooth and soft after I dry it. Any idea how to revive the leather?

Replies (21)

June 30, 2011 at 09:16 PM ·

NOTE: This is not from first-hand use, so take this advice with caution.

Chamois is a natural animal skin, so I would suggest two possible options.

  • Wash with saddle soap, which is designed to be used to clean leather
  • Use lanolin (sparingly!) and work it into the chamois. Don't try and get it perfect right away; use about 1/4 of what you expect to need, work it in, and let it sit overnight. Let the pores absorb the lanolin at their schedule.

The second note is from experience; when trying to oil or treat leather, I find that I need to under-do rather than over-do. A bit of treatment followed by time works mych better.

June 30, 2011 at 09:45 PM ·

Greg go back to the auto store and get another piece of shammy. Do not wash it, but sprinkle it with your dads under arm deodorant.  You will smell so nice that you will attract admirers.

July 1, 2011 at 02:44 AM ·

chamois cream.

Bicycle racers use it. Used to use real chamois in their shorts.

July 1, 2011 at 07:19 AM ·


I once had a pair of bicycle racer shorts; had to get rid of them. They rode up pretty fast.

July 1, 2011 at 07:32 AM ·

 I hadnwash my chamois in shampoo and then condition with hair conditioner - although it still dries a bit stiff initially, it softens up after the first use (I use mine over the chin rest, so maybe it gets more body heat and moisture there?)

July 1, 2011 at 10:01 AM ·

Racer shorts can also do with 'dads under arm deodorant'. Come to think of it, so can dad.

July 1, 2011 at 12:26 PM ·


You bought cheap shorts.

July 1, 2011 at 01:12 PM ·

If you use salsa instead of conditioner, you can eat...

July 1, 2011 at 08:08 PM ·

July 1, 2011 at 11:09 PM ·

This _is_ from firsthand experience - hold it by the ends in both hands and drag ti back and forth over something hard and reasonably sharp , like the corner of a square railing or the back of a chair.  That will loosen it up again.

July 1, 2011 at 11:54 PM ·

Haha Andre pulled his comment!

July 1, 2011 at 11:57 PM ·

This is from first hand experience. I just toss mine in the washer and dryer with my laundry. Beautifully soft every time,

July 3, 2011 at 07:13 AM ·

Thanks for everyone's advice. I tried some saddle soap. It works, but only in large amount (I used half of a small can). It does actually softens out after some stretching as well. I guess that explains Marianne's method.

July 3, 2011 at 07:13 AM ·

Thanks for everyone's advice. I tried some saddle soap. It works, but only in large amount (I used half of a small can). It does actually softens out after some stretching as well. I guess that explains Marianne's method.

July 6, 2011 at 02:18 PM ·


On, they recommend Olive oil.

July 6, 2011 at 04:23 PM ·

 I clicked on this thread to see if there were any 'inappropriate' comments for my 12 old daughter who's thinking about joining....  You guys didn't disappoint!  nicely, done!

July 11, 2011 at 05:07 AM ·

Regarding bicycle shorts and chamois butter: I told my cyclist husband about this one.   (Wow--the first time I could discuss a topic with him.)   From his reply, I have the following suggestions:

1) Because bicycle shorts no longer use real chamois, the chamois butter is applied to the person.  I would be sure it doesn't have any chemicals that are OK on human skin but not on something that will rest against the violin.

2) There are chamois substitutes on the market.  My husband says that if it washes in the washer, then it may be one of these.  The two types I've seen are a) the ones used on bicycle shorts: soft cloth with a thin layer of foam underneath and b) a cloth that is made to look and feel like real chamois, found in the auto supply store.  (Maybe not any more, since microfiber took over.)  I would try the latter.

July 11, 2011 at 06:30 AM ·

Just keep it in a plastic bag

July 11, 2011 at 08:45 AM ·

 I believe 'chamois butter' becomes 'chamois cheese' after fifty miles in racing shorts.

July 11, 2011 at 04:15 PM ·

I would recommend using something which can be washed frequently, and doesn't need any additives to keep it supple, perhaps a synthetic chamois. Treatments which are good for leather and bottoms may be less than ideal for wood and varnish. ;-)

July 12, 2011 at 03:14 AM ·

My chamois is genuine hide, meant to be used to clean cars. Before I bought it, I had heard that it would be washable, but I was skeptical, so I cut a small piece and ran it through the washer and dryer, and it came out softer, a little thicker, and a little shrunken, almost like when fabric is fulled or felted. I wouldn't want to apply any creams or oils to the chamois to keep it soft, partly because I wouldn't want it to transfer to the violin, and partly because I wouldn't want it to transfer onto my skin or my clothes. It works for me, but I'm finding it interesting that nobody else in this discussion just does a simple wash. By the way, this works better with my smaller pieces (4" x 8") ... when I washed the entire skin (maybe about 24" x 36"), it crumpled in the machines, which resulted in folds set in the skin. Oh well, a piece that size isn't practical for me anyway... and I could always iron it if I need to.

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