Leather is very resource intensive to manufacture, so it is important to look after your leather items to keep them in good condition and prolong their life.
To keep leather garments clean/fresh
• Have the garment cleaned by a reputable dry cleaner.
• Ensure garments that have anything moist in contact with them are cleaned regularly, e.g. sweat, rain, alcohol etc.
• Don’t let an item become too dirty before having it cleaned.
• Point out any stains or ingrained soiling to the dry cleaner (it is possible to remove most stains from leather as well as odours).
Note: Incorrect care/cleaning of leather can cause it to crack and dry out, remove finishes/colours, or make it too stiff to wear.
Cleaning leather items yourself
Refer to the care label of your garment to see what type of leather it is made from, what finishes are applied and how the manufacturer recommends you should clean it. There are different types of cleaner for different types of leather, so please ensure you use the correct one. Always do a patch test in an inconspicuous area, then leave for a few hours to ensure they are safe to use. Do not use shoe polish on leather clothing, even if it is intended for leather shoes.
Smooth finish (e.g. Nappa)
• Regularly dust or brush with a soft cloth or brush and wipe clean with a slightly damp cloth.
• Occasional treatment with specialist leather cleaners can be carried out, strictly following the manufacturers' instructions. Never use excessive quantities.
• Small marks can be removed by gently rubbing them with a soft rubber eraser.
• Clean with a damp cloth and a little detergent if needed.
• Shine with a leather cleaner suitable for patent leather.
Suede and nubuck
• Clean items regularly with a soft cloth and/or a soft nubuck or suede brush (or an old toothbrush), to regenerate the nap and remove dust/dirt. Using circular motions and don’t brush each area too much - as this will damage the surface.
• Marks can be removed by rubbing gently with a suede cleaning block, a hard rubber eraser, or by touching up the surface with a fine emery paper.
• Spray new/clean items with a specialist leather protectant to help retain its colour and appearance. Ensure you raise the nap before spraying by using a soft brush.
• Never use polish on suede or nubuck leather.
There are many ‘leather protector’ or ‘leather waterproofing’ products available. Ensure you read the label carefully before using. A silicone or acrylic spray should preserve the appearance of your leather. Grease-based or wax-based products are more protective, but not recommended for garments as they can affect colour, longevity, shine, and smell.
Top tip: The treatment will make the leather garment resistant to water damage, it will not be fully waterproof, therefore never immerse a leather garment in water. If your garment does get wet, put it on a clothes hanger and dry at room temperature away from sunlight and direct sources of heat. If the leather was thoroughly soaked, apply leather conditioner after drying.
Always blot any stain as soon as you can after it has happened to remove excess, then remove the stain within a few hours so it doesn’t set. Follow the instructions on the stain remover.
Oily stains, e.g. on jacket collars and upholstery headrests. Put a good layer of talcolm powder onto the stain, and then leave it to soak up the stain overnight. Brush the powder off. If the stain remains, repeat this process and then use appropriate leather cleaner.
Ink: Apply the stain remover over the ink stain until it is completely covered. Then use a soft cloth and appropriate leather cleaner to wipe away the stain.
Method 1: Soften the gum by gently heating it with a hair dryer, then carefully scrape as much of the gum off as possible with a blunt flat edge e.g. a plastic scraper or butter knife. Then re-heat the remaining gum residue with the hair dryer and rub with a soft, dry cloth until it forms into a ball and comes off. Use a leather cleaner and conditioner to moisturise the leather after the heat application.
Method 2: If the gum is on a small item place it in a carrier bag in the freezer for about an hour. You should then be able to scrape off the hardened gum with a blunt flat edge e.g. a plastic scraper or butter knife. If it is a larger item that the gum is on – place an ice cube in a sealed plastic bag (so water does not get on the leather) and put this on the gum to harden it, then scape off. Use a leather cleaner and conditioner to moisturise the leather if need be.
• If your leather item is torn, it might be possible to repair it. Leather repair kits are available online.
• Leather stitching is best repaired with either a hand lock stitch or an industrial sewing machine. A professional leather cleaner or a good cobbler should be able to help.
• Scuff marks can often be disguised with shoe polish, leather dye or permanent marker pen. Try a patch test first.
Removing wrinkles/creases from a leather garment
Prevent creases by storing the garment on a clothes hanger. If there are large wrinkles/creases, take the garment to a professional leather cleaner. Alternatively, set a clothes iron to the lowest setting, place the leather under a cloth, and quickly iron it (ensure you do a patch test first).
• Keep in a cool, dry, well ventilated area. It must be protected from heat, direct sunlight and chemicals.
• If your garment needs to be covered - do not store it in plastic as this can cause the leather to dry out - use a natural breathable fibre such as cotton.
• When putting leather items such as bags and shoes away at the end of a season, they should be cleaned and then gently stuffed with and wrapped in acid free tissue paper. Shoe trees can be used in shoes if you have them. Store them in cardboard boxes.
Care of faux leather
Faux leather usually just requires a wipe with a damp soapy cloth to keep it clean. If you have a garment made from faux leather, care instructions will be given on the garment care label.
However, stain protection is a good way of protecting faux leather from dirt.
If faux leather gets dirty, leather cleaner should remove the dirt – but ensure you do a patch test to check the cleaner is alright to use on your product. If you do clean your faux leather, apply a conditioner afterwards to stop it getting too dry.