Cleaning and care of leather clothing
Leather - the oldest clothing material
Along with fur and wool, leather is one of the oldest clothing materials in the world. Thousands of years ago it was already valued for its natural properties: leather is tough, relatively impermeable to water, supple and breathable. Even today, the natural material is not only a popular fashion classic, but also has the reputation of being particularly durable and resistant. In fact, leather clothing convinces not only with its characteristic look and feel, but also with one thing in particular: durability.
Leather clothing cleaning
Whether leather jacket, leather pants, leather shirt or leather skirt - a garment made of high quality leather can survive several decades. Worn frequently, leather clothing adapts perfectly to your figure and fits comfortably like a second skin. However, in order to maintain the typical material properties of leather, such as suppleness and durability, it requires careful care. In order to enjoy your new garment as long as possible, you should pay attention to the proper cleaning and care of leather clothing. In the following we have summarized the most important information for you.
Can you wash leather?
The most important thing first: leather does not belong in the washing machine! Even though leather is considered indestructible, it might not survive a wash cycle in the machine. Why? Leather is not a textile, but the skin of an animal and therefore an organic natural material. Just as you would not subject your own skin to spin wash and chemical mace, you should not do the same with your leather clothing. What could happen when washing leather jackets, leather pants and co. in the washing machine? The seams in the leather could warp so much that the fit of your garment changes greatly and in the worst case you can no longer wear it. The water could rinse out natural leather grease, tannins and pigments, as well as make the leather hard and brittle. In addition, chemical substances in detergents attack the top protective layer of the leather, which can reduce the durability of your garment by many years. Depending on the color treatment of the leather, it could also lead to unwanted washing out, which would affect the appearance of your favorite piece. Since once damage has occurred, it is often impossible to repair, so caution is advised when washing leather. The good news is that in most cases, extensive cleaning of leather is not necessary! What you can do instead to keep your leather clothing clean and well cared for, you will learn now.
Leather impregnation - simply prevent soiling
We recommend that you impregnate your leather clothing before wearing it for the first time. A treatment with a waterproofing spray is very easy and protects your leather clothing effectively from the weather. Use a colorless leather impregnation spray and spray your garment thoroughly from all sides - preferably outdoors. Impregnation gives the leather water-repellent properties, which greatly reduces the risk of stains. It is particularly useful to impregnate sensitive suede leather, such as suede and nubuck. Moisture and stains are no longer absorbed so quickly into the pores of the leather, which protects your garment from moisture and soiling. But also smooth leather, such as lamb nappa or cowhide, benefits from impregnation: protected from wind and weather, which would make it hard and brittle in the long run, it remains durable and supple thanks to impregnation. The resulting "protective layer" supports the natural barrier function of leather and also facilitates subsequent stain removal. You should impregnate your leather garment once or twice a year, depending on its use.
Air leather regularly
Whether it's a night of dancing, a barbecue or a campfire - often it's just a matter of getting an unpleasant odor out of your leather jacket, leather pants and the like. In such a case, it is usually enough to let leather clothing air out well. After a few hours in the fresh air your favorite part smells like new.
Remove light soiling from leather by hand
To remove light soiling, you can simply and gently clean your leather clothing by hand. Superficial dirt on smooth leather can - thanks to impregnation - often be removed without residue with a damp cloth (without soap). The cleaning of suede and suede leather may be a little more time-consuming. Wet stains in suede should, if possible, be dabbed out of the leather with a handkerchief immediately after they appear. For cleaning suede clothing such as suede jackets, nubuck leather pants or suede leather shirts, there are also tools such as the suede brush and the leather eraser. Already dry stains on suede, for example, can be easily removed with a suitable leather brush. Here you should make sure that the bristles of the leather brush are not too hard. You should also avoid scrubbing too hard when brushing out the stains. For removing heavier stains in suede, we recommend using a leather eraser (often available as a so-called "dirt eraser" in drugstores). Dirt can be easily rubbed off with this slightly grainy cleaning rubber. A leather eraser is also used to dull areas of suede that have become shiny. These are often pocket openings, collars and arm ends. After treatment with a leather eraser, we recommend removing the abrasion with a brush and - depending on the treated area - refreshing the impregnation.
Hand wash the lining of leather pants
Fortunately, since leather is naturally breathable and moisture-absorbent, you rarely get sweaty in leather pants. Should you ever feel the need to wash your leather pants, cleaning the inner lining - the part with direct body contact - is completely sufficient. This can usually be completely or partially pulled out of the leather pants, so that you can carefully wash it by hand. Put the pants in the sink and carefully rinse the lining without getting the leather wet. Be sure to use only lukewarm water and mild detergent. Then let the wet lining dry outside the pants and put it back inside the pants only when it is completely dry. Tip: Even with tight skirts and dresses, the lining can often be pulled out or away from the leather, so that you can wash it by hand.
Leather cleaning - help from a professional
If your leather garments do become stubbornly dirty, you can take them to a leather cleaner, where they will be dry-cleaned. However, you should only use this solution when mechanical cleaning is no longer an option. Be careful: the term "leather cleaning" is not protected and improper cleaning can make your leather clothing unwearable. Therefore, inform yourself well about the cleaning of your choice and make sure that it is sufficiently qualified to clean your leather clothing professionally and gently. For example, it is important to use special leather cleaning agents, a possible re-greasing of the leather as well as its professional drying. Depending on the provider, the costs of a leather cleaning can vary greatly.
Properly care for leather clothing
In addition to cleaning your leather clothing, the right leather care also plays a major role. Just like the cleaning methods, the care requirements are also different depending on the type of leather.
Scratches in the leather - what to do?
Leather is a natural product, namely tanned animal skin. When the leather is tanned, the pores and skin structure are preserved, resulting in the characteristic look and feel of leather. And since every skin structure, just like a fingerprint, is individual and unique, every piece of leather clothing is also unique. For this reason, irregularities in the leather such as small scratches, scars, rough pores or differences in color and thickness are not to be considered defects. However, if you should subsequently get a scratch in your leather jacket, leather pants, etc., the following tips will help you:
Remove scratches with leather grease
>Small scratches in smooth leather can be easily polished out with so-called leather grease. To do this, take a little of the colorless grease with a soft cloth (e.g. microfiber), dab it on the affected area of your leather garment and massage it well into the leather in small, circular movements. This not only makes the scratch disappear visually, but also cares for the leather and keeps it soft and supple.
Can you iron leather clothing?
When unpacking from your suitcase, your leather jacket suddenly has wrinkles where they don't belong? Your leather pants have unsightly creases after lying in the closet for a long time? Then you might be wondering if you can't just iron your leather clothes. The happy answer is: you can! Leather can indeed be ironed, but there are three things to keep in mind here.
- An ironing cloth (or kitchen towel) must always be placed between leather clothing and the iron. The iron must never have direct contact with the leather.
- Leather should not be ironed too hot, but only at a low temperature (wool temperature). In addition, it is important not to stay too long on one spot with the iron.
- Leather should never be ironed when wet. Neither should the steam from the iron therefore be used.
Another little tip: Sometimes it's enough to blow-dry leather with a hair dryer and then carefully pull it into shape to remove wrinkles and creases. However, both methods are stressful for leather and have a drying effect. They should therefore not be the order of the day, but should be carried out with caution.
Drying wet leather clothing properly
You came in the rain with leather jacket or leather pants and are now tempted to hang the soaked piece over the heater? Better not! What works for knitted sweaters and jeans would be harmful in this case. After all, leather clothing should not be exposed to direct heat - that would make it dry and brittle. It is better to hang your damp leather clothes on a wide hanger and let them dry at room temperature. After that you can wipe it with a cotton or kitchen towel and if necessary re-grease or impregnate it as soon as it is completely dry.