Caring for Leather Clothing – Doxy Couture

Caring for Leather Clothing

A Comprehensive Guide on How to Care for your Leather Clothing

The care of your leather clothing and leather lingerie is very important to keep it in like new condition. The most important thing to do is to follow the manufacturers care instructions. Some other things that you can do are:

  • If your leather clothing or leather lingerie becomes wet, let it dry at room temperature.
  • If your leather clothing or leather lingerie becomes stained, gently blot liquid stains with a clean cloth.
  • It is a good idea to use a repellent product to condition your leather item.
  • Store your leather clothing or leather lingerie on a wide wooden, plastic or padded hanger to help maintain the shape.
  • Do not store your leather clothing or leather lingerie in a hot or damp area.
  • Leather clothing and leather lingerie needs to be stored in a temperature controlled environment.
  • If you will be covering your leather when you are storing it; cover it with a breathable cloth like cotton sheets.
  • Do not cover your leather clothing or leather lingerie with plastic. The plastic will cause the leather to dry out.
  • Avoid exposing your leather to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time.

All leather items can last for a lifetime if they are regularly maintained and treated well. Leather is skin and just as you would clean your own, you need to clean and nourish your leather to help retain its durability and texture.

Cleaning your Leather

  • Continual contact with moisture (sweat, rain, urine, alcohol, etc.,) can cause the leather to stiffen. Before you start cleaning the full surface of your leather item, test out the cleaner on a smaller, less visible area.  Wait a few minutes. If you don't notice any color distortion, proceed with the rest of the item.
  • When cleaning your leather NEVER use strong detergents such as laundry detergent.  Always choose a product that helps preserve the leather's natural lubricating oils rather than strip them away. Most cleaning products sold in department and shoe stores are safe. But, it never hurts to ask.
  • Warm soapy water, using baby shampoo or a similar soap, is the best cleaning solution for removing difficult or oily marks, stains or odors. Rub baby shampoo into the area of any oily stains before rinsing. Try to avoid cleaners that leave any sort of grease or residue. Residue can make leather vulnerable to bacteria, which will tarnish the leather and eventually break down the stitching. To remove the excess cleaner, use a slightly dampened cloth or a small brush around the stitching.
  • Make sure soap/shampoo is rinsed out thoroughly to avoid stiffening.
  • Leather should never be dried in front of a direct heat source as this damages the leather and also causes the hide to stiffen. Make sure to clean and treat your leather before it's dry. Never use heat to dry leather (it should air-dry) and always stuff the garment while it's drying, in order to make sure it maintains its shape.
  • When storing leather articles, don’t throw them to the bottom of the wardrobe, instead hang them up and make sure they are ventilated to prevent them from molding.
  • Get a Nubuck cloth; it's a great leather care tool for cleaning and restoring your item to its original look.
  • Clean your leather goods as often as you need to and make sure they're dust-free at all times.
  • Never use caustic household chemicals to clean your leather items.

Removing Stains & Foul Smells

Sweat: When the leather becomes slightly stiffened or an itchy irritation occurs, this is usually a sign that sweat has permeated the leather. Washing in warm water with baby shampoo or fabric softener will help soften the leather and remove the irritation.

Odors: To remove odors, use a teaspoon of bicarbonate soda crystals in about 1 quart/liter of warm water and let the solution soak into the skin.

Oils and Oil Based Lubricants: These can be difficult to remove. Use baby shampoo or a similar soap in a few tablespoons of water and rubbing slowly onto the spots can help their removal. Rinse thoroughly. As another alternative, most oil or grease stains can be lifted by grinding up blackboard chalk, sprinkling it onto the affected area, and leaving the powder on for one full day.

Wax: Place blotting paper or brown paper on the leather and then apply a cool/moderate iron to remove wax from leather. Keep applying the iron on clean blotting or brown paper, to the wax spot until the paper is no longer absorbing the wax.

Urine Stains: Uric acid found in urine is very damaging to leather. When leather has been in contact with urine, it should be washed out immediately after use with warm soapy water (baby shampoo). Leaving urine-stained items overnight can cause irreparable damage.

Blood Stains: Leather becomes stiff and odorous if blood is allowed to dry. If blood gets on your leather clothing or leather lingerie, hand wash immediately.

Hygiene: Germs can be killed by soaking leather clothes in 1 teaspoon bleach to 1 gallon of water for up to 1/2 hour. Rinse thoroughly and hand wash immediately after bleaching. Bleaching can damage leather so minimal use is necessary.

Removing Mold and Mildew: In case mildew builds up, mix one cup of rubbing alcohol with one cup of water. Dip a clean cloth in the solution and wipe the mildewed area. For more persistent mildew, use mild soap containing germicide and water. Wipe the excess soap with a clean cloth and let dry.

Washing Leather 

  • Hand wash in warm water.
  • 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 clean, dry towel to soak up extra moisture. Dry at room temperature without 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.

If in doubt, have your leather clothing or leather lingerie professionally cleaned. Many quality dry cleaners offer this service.

Conditioning your Leather

  • All types of leather need conditioning. The fats and/or oils found in conditioners help lubricate leather and replenish its suppleness.
  • Beware of products that contain petroleum or mineral oils; they will damage your leather goods over time.
  • Similar to cleaning products, avoid conditioners that leave thick, greasy residue. Instead, look for products that penetrate the leather's fibers.
  • Condition your leather items several times during the season. Do so more often if the item is exposed to hot sunny conditions or moisture.
  • If your leather has been dampened, restore its flexibility by applying a bit of conditioner just before it dries out completely. Lexol is generally a good conditioner for most leathers.

Protecting your Leather

  • Protection is perhaps the most important step of leather care. Obviously, you should try to protect every new leather item before wearing it.
  • It's recommended that you protect your leather item against moisture such as rain, snow, sweat, and other liquid hazards. Unprotected leather will stiffen and crack rather quickly. Again, beware of the protector you choose. Some protectors might fill the leather's pores with grease, which will eventually make cleaning, conditioning and polishing more difficult.
  • Always apply leather protector on clean, dry leather. Apply it periodically and make sure the item is dry before wearing it.
  • Several types of leather require more specialized maintenance. If in doubt, have your leather cleaned and maintained professionally.
  • Tana Style 16 Protective Spray protects leather from moisture and staining, and is recommended for all types of leather.

Storing your Leather

  • Always store your leather items in cool, dry places.
  • Never store leather in plastic bags or other nonporous covers or containers.
  • When hanging leather pants or jackets, avoid using metal hangers.
  • Always stuff empty leather handbags with newspaper and use shoetrees when storing leather shoes and boots.