PAKT Fabric Guide – Leather Care 101

In Hong Kong, one of the problems that we all face with leather items is our fight against humidity.  As we race through the early part of the year (this year has sped by so fast has it not?), we are getting into the humid and sorry to remind you, wet months. 

How many times have you picked up a pair of shoes, a hand bag, a leather jacket, leather trousers, dress or skirt and found that nasty green mould on it (it smells too!). You think a good wipe with a damp cloth will get rid of the problem but unfortunately, mould is stubborn and comes back.

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The classic, cool biker jacket is usually the first victim’s to the humid weather in Hong Kong.

Love Your Leather and Treat it with Care

Leaving dehumidifiers and air conditioners on 24/7 is of course an option but not only it is expensive but detrimental to the environment.  So what steps can we do to minimise that awful mould?

First thing to remember, real leather is made from animal hide(or skin). We spend vast amounts on our faces and bodies, and your leather pieces could use some TLC too.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you need to buy expensive skincare for your leather pieces.  What we are saying is that you need to treat leather like care like you do with your skin.  This means using products that help leather keep supple and maintain its natural oils.  

An interesting fact is that when we touch leather, the natural oils in the leather transfer to our own skin and deteriorate the leather!

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Take note, your leather items need TLC too!

Prevention Is Your First Step

Remember that prevention is always better than a cure.

If your leather clothing is still brand new and unworn, make sure you protect your investment before wearing it out. Think about it — you wouldn’t drive an uninsured car, right?

Spending just five minutes waterproofing your leather pieces will:

  • help protect the leather from water damage, such as rain
  • make the leather more stain-resistant (another plus point)
  • keep the pieces looking new for as long as possible
  • basically, save you from heartaches later when your favourite piece get caught in the rain or a water spill

When it comes to pre-treatment products for leather, we have heard good things about Meltonian Water & Stain Protector. A word of warning, with any products, do a spot test somewhere not obviously visible to make sure it doesn’t leave any unwanted marks or cause discolouring.

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You will always want to do a spot test before using any product on your precious leather

If it’s too late, and you’ve already worn your leather out without waterproofing, just skip right to steps two, and then circle back to step one right at the end of your process. It also doesn’t hurt to re-waterproof every few months, after you clean your jacket (key word here is maintenance!)

Always Air-dry Water Stains

If you accidentally get caught in the rain, or spill some water on yourself… DO NOT PANIC!  Putting the leather in a tumble dryer or using a blow dryer will make things worse — the direct heat will damage the leather. Instead, we recommend hanging the damp piece somewhere light and airy to dry out the moisture naturally.

the gentleman blogger
Remember to let the water stains air-dry naturally

Remove Stains with Alcohol

This is mainly for light coloured leather. Remember the heartbreaking moment when your pen breaks and the ink gets on that creamy beautiful leather? Do not worry, plain old rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol) has been know to remove ink stains from smooth leather. 

Suede on the other hand, might require professional dry-cleaning.  If you are trying to clean the fabric at home, use a white cotton cloth soaked with alcohol and blot the stain gently until the ink has faded. Be careful here, scrubbing too hard could actually fade the color of your leather.

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Nothing complete a sharp outfit better than a well cared-for leather piece

Consider Hand-washing for Other Types of Stains

Blood stains can be hand washed and should be done immediately.  If not, the leather will become brittle and begin to smell.

Here’s our tips on hand-washing your leather at home:

  • Use baby shampoo, mild soap or fabric softener. DO NOT use laundry detergent.
  • Gently squeeze the water from the leather clothing or leather lingerie.
    Do not twist or wring as this can cause the garment to crease or wrinkle.
  • Make sure to completely dry all metal fittings or they can rust.
  • Lay out flat on a clean, dry towel to soak up extra moisture. Dry at room temperature without any direct heat. It can take 48 – 72 hours to dry depending on the garment.
  • Apply leather conditioner with a soft cloth. Be sure to remove all excess leather conditioner.
  • Do not apply leather conditioner to the suede side of leather.
  • Always store in a well ventilated area

Freshen Your Leather with a Quick Freeze

After a few wears, your leather clothing will probably be begging for a clean, but might not be quite ready for a trip to the dry-cleaner. To remove odour, kill lingering bacteria, and give the piece a freshen-up, simply wrap your leather in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer overnight.

Leather Conditioner Will Be Your Next Best Friend

Remember what we talked about earlier about ‘skin care’ for leather?  This is it — Leather conditioner is your friend in this matter. 

Word of warning here, chose your product carefully, any conditioning products that contain petroleum or mineral oils as these may in fact damage leather over time.  Also make sure you do a spot test in case there are adverse effects. 

Note of warning: leather conditioner should not go on suede.  Also avoid leather conditioners which leave a greasy residue, as it should be absorbed by the leather quickly.

Store Your Leather in a Dry, Cool Place

Do not fold your leathers as those creases will stay.  Ideally, hang your leather garments on hangers (but avoid metals ones).  Do not cover your leather garments in plastic — use breathable garment bags instead.

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Show your leather statement piece some love and make it last longer