CARE AND SAFETY
There are a few things you have to know and implement to properly care for your whips in a BDSM environment. Failing to care for them and use them as you should can void your repair guarantee and might result in a much shorter live span of your whip.
Please also read my thoughts and tips regarding safety -- safety while using whips in general and specifically the safety of the sub they are used on. As always -- better safe than sorry, especially where it comes to potential injury or risk of catching an infection.
When you receive your whip it will be saturated with braiding soap and leather grease, which has been worked into the leather during the braiding process. I also usually give the whip a light additional grease coating to protect it during shipping. This you can wipe off using a non-abrasive towel or kerchief. Sometimes a whitish bloom develops at the edges of the strands. This is caused by the braiding soap and grease in the leather coming to the surface. This can be cleaned off with a damp, lightly soaped towel.
Most whips come with a small hanger loop. Store your whip hung by the loop from some hanger or hook in a moderate climate (not too cold, not too warm, not humid and definitely out of reach of vermin!) and out of direct sunlight (sunlight can either bleach or darken the leather depending on tint and dye). Straighten the fall out when hanging it, this will keep your whip in prime condition for targeting. Absolute no-no's are to squeeze the whip into a suitcase for extended time, to bend and press it sharply for a long period or to squash it with a hard surface.
Neither the hanger loop, nor the endknots are suitable for whirling the whip or made to support a lot of weight and stress (e.g. you can't suspend yourself or someone else by hooking the whip somewhere and hold on to it). Unless you've specifically ordered a whip up to that sort of punishment don't do it.
Please do not hit hard surfaces or the ground with these whips. The leathers are chosen for sensations and use on soft, non-abrasive surfaces, they will not withstand trick whipping in the style of Indiana Jones. Even just one hefty stroke across a sharp chair or table edge or against some surface like concrete or brick can completely damage the fall! If you want to target practice with your whip, as you should for safety considerations, then do use a pillow or other soft, giving surface for that (e.g. a matress or couch cushion).
Keep whips away from heat, hot liquids and all chemicals which are detrimental to leather or leather glues (especially all solvents like acetone etc.). If your whip accidentally was in a very hot environment all day (e.g. a car booth in summer), allow it to cool out to at least 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit (20-25 degrees Celsius) before you use it. Don't ever put it into boiling water, this will ruin leather and built for good! Whips can't be desinfected in the usual type of hospital sterilizer, nor can they be washed in a washing machine, so just don't try it (see below for cleaning and desinfection).
When you feel the leather go dry after a while or after desinfection you should grease it. Don't use any oils for that (no Neatsfoot oil, nor any other type of oil -- and also don't use whips on skin thickly coated with e.g. massage oils).
Ideal for (non-desinfection) cleaning and greasing is the combination of saddle soap first and a good, but light leather grease afterwards (e.g. Pecard Leather Dressing). A good hand/skin lotion will also do the trick if nothing else is available.
The purpose of BDSM whips is giving love and pleasure. It's not to injure someone or to make him or her ill.
A few simple rules go a long way to ensure that you play safely:
STDs and infections
In our day we cannot assume that people who look healthy also are healthy, and there are several deadly or irksome contageous diseases out there which can be easily avoided by heeding certain safety measures.
Before you switch to another sub with a whip used before, the whip has to be desinfected! Every whip and every time. Period.
Diseases which may be spread by contact with either skin or bodily fluids start off with yeast infections, skin diseases, Herpes, go over a huge variety of non-deadly STDs and end with such killers as Hepatitis C or AIDS. Throw in some other nasties like e.g. parasites or worm eggs and you realize that desinfection is a must and not a maybe!
It would lead too far to explain here that e.g. you do not need to see blood for blood to be around (microcuts in the skin or a small open pimple are all it takes) or that a Hep positive person doesn't necessarily have any clinical symptoms to be a carrier and transmitter. Let it suffice that you place both yourself and your subs at high risk whenever you switch whips without desinfection between.
The best way to acquire the best desinfectant available locally is to go to a pharmacy and ask for a strong, non-staining desinfectant to be used on leather, which kills bacteria, viruses and fungus (like ringworm). If it also kills parasites, all the better. Kodan Forte e.g. is such a desinfectant. Make sure the pharmacist knows that this desinfectant can come in contact with skin and possibly also mucous membranes and small wounds. After desinfecting leather, a process which dries it out, give it a light greasing.
Horsehair whips can be soaked up to 3/4ths of their tails in Lysol (a strong hospital desinfectant), then be washed thoroughly with shampoo and dried hanging. They are easiest to desinfect.
My best advice is to USE WHIPS ONLY ON THE SAME SUB!
This is why I tell submissives who ask me about this aspect, that they'd fare best with providing their own whips to the Top if they often play with strangers. There are many masochists about who buy and take care of the whips to be used on them.
And a respectable Top who really cares for his subs ought to have whip sets ready for each individual to really make sure, he's not spreading illness from one to the other. This should be a must for everyone who plays with confirmed Hep C or AIDS patients or with high-risk group subs.
Again -- use common sense and rather stray towards safe, than be very sorry later!