The cooler nights are creeping in on us and it’s time to starting thinking about pulling out our leather staples for autumn and winter. Most of us would agreeably have at least one leather piece in our wardrobe, whether that’s our favourite leather jacket or skirt. It’s timeless. Well, so you think. If not looked after properly you can kiss that sweet leather goodbye before you know it. Come to learn from the experts at Free @ Heart, caring for your leather is actually one of those fashion rules you just don’t break. Here’s how to look after your leather like a pro and make sure it lives to see another season.
Step 1. Clean Your Leather
Soap and Water
Mix a mild solution of about 2 litres warm water with 2 teaspoons of a gentle liquid dish detergent in a large bowl – dissolve well. Beware not to use too much detergent as it will affect the leather and may cause discolouring. Wet a soft, clean cloth or towel and dip into the soapy solution – squeeze out excess liquid so the cloth is just damp. Gently wipe down the garment in long, smooth motions, re-wetting the cloth as needed. Pay extra attention to areas of dirt or oil build up. Don’t rub or scrub.
Use a clean soft cloth or towel dipped in clean, warn water and wipe the garment again to remove soap residue. With a soft dry towel, pat the leather until dry. Hang and allow to dry naturally. Don’t dry in direct sun, direct heat or with a blow dryer – this will damage the leather.
Specialty Leather Cleaning Product
Buy a quality leather cleaning Product and apply a small amount directly onto the dirty part of the garment. You can apply more as needed. Using a soft, clean cloth or towel gently massage the solution into the leather and use slow circular strokes to collect dirt and remove water spots that may have set in. Massage until the cleaner has mostly been absorbed. Using another clean, dry cloth or towel wipe off any excess cleaner. The leather will have a clean, rich sheen to it when you are done and will be moisturised and protected.
Step 2. Waterproof Your Leather
Your leather garments should be treated with a waterproofing product from time to time. This seals the pores in the leather and water will bead and roll off. These products come in spray or oil form. Always follow the instructions on the product. Before selecting the waterproofing product it is important to know the type of leather of your garment and buy the right product for your leather.
Your garment must be clean and dry before applying a waterproofing product. If using a spray, hold the spray about 15cm away from the garment and spray evenly across the leather. When done, allow the garment to dry naturally as in the cleaning process.
If using an oil-based product to waterproof use a clean, soft cloth and apply the oil generously to the cloth. Apply the oil coated cloth directly to the leather and work it in evenly, coating all the leather. Once done, use another soft, dry, clean cloth and wipe off any excess product.
It is important to waterproof at least once a year as this will extend the life of your leather.
Step 3. Condition Your Leather
Leather needs hydrating just like any other skin. Apply a leather conditioning cream over the entire garment at least once a year and it will protect it from moisture, leave it soft and flexible and prevent cracking and splitting. Before applying a conditioner always ensure the leather is clean and dry. Using a clean, soft, dry cloth or towel apply a small quantity to the cloth and work in evenly over the entire surface of the garment. Allow time for the conditioner to absorb (several hours) and wipe off any excess with a clean soft, dry cloth.
Step 4. Cleaning the Lining of your Leather
Cleaning the leather doesn’t clean the inside of your garment and perspiration, smoke and pollution can make for an unpleasant odour. A simple way to clean the lining is to turn your garment inside out and use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, smoke and dirt then leave it out to air for a few hours, hanging inside out. If that fails here are some alternative options. With your garment inside out and lying flat:
Combine 1 tbs mild detergent with 4 cups warm water and mix until completely dissolved. Dip a clean sponge into the solution, squeezing out excess water and gently sponge-wash all the lining, focusing on areas where odour may be more prevalent. Fill a clean bowl with warm water and using a clean sponge, repeat the process to remove any excess detergent from the lining.
Sprinkle baking soda evenly on the entire surface of the lining. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and set the spray nozzle to mist – lightly spray water over the lining until the baking soda is damp and clings to the lining. Allow the baking soda to dry then gently wipe from the lining with a clean damp cloth.
Whatever option you follow, when finished hang your garment inside out and allow to dry naturally.
Step 5. Store your Leather Properly.
Keep your leather in a cool, dry place on a soft padded hanger – this will prevent the leather from splitting. If you don’t wear your garment very often keep it in a garment bag. If it’s wrinkled from storage place a towel over it and iron the towel on medium heat or hang it up in the bathroom when you next take a hot shower – the heat and moisture will relax the wrinkles naturally.
Following these simple steps will avoid the need to have your leather clothes professionally cleaned by a specialist dry cleaner because it is expensive and really not necessary if you follow these steps. Make sure to be gentle and take extra care when cleaning very soft leather.
Look after your leather and it will be like a good friend – always there for you for years to come!