Leather and suede are some of the loveliest and most expensive materials money can buy. But leather and suede garments also require a lot of upkeep to preserve their best qualities. Because they are made from actual living material that has been treated, it is imperative to keep that treatment intact by storing, cleaning, and treating it properly throughout its lifespan. With proper care, leather and suede garments are not only very attractive and prestigious, they can last you a whole lifetime, and even be handed down through generations!
Here are some tips for keeping your leather and suede garments luxurious for Greener Cleaner – Chicago’s Dry Cleaner:
Suede Cleaning Tip #1: Get A Suede Brush
Suede cleaning brushes are specifically designed to preserve and maintain the nap of your suede shoes or garments. What is nap? Nap is the fine, soft fibers that makes suede so lovely. Because suede is made from the underskin, it is exceptionally soft with an attractive matte sheen, but it also lacks the protection of the tougher skin exterior in conventional leather. Maintaining the nap requires a special tool. A suede brush usually has two sides: one side has wire-bristles for brushing off debris, and the other has rubber-bristles for buffing up the nap. Whichever side you use, always brush along the grain to avoid damaging the suede. And always wait for the suede to dry before brushing off mud or other debris!
Leather Cleaning Tip #2: Treat Your Suede And Leather Properly
Leather and suede are preserved by treating hide and skin with “tannins,” which draw out most of the moisture. They remaining moisture is sealed in to keep the leather supple, and lustrous. Over time, these treatments can wear off from friction, oxidation, and heat/cold, which can make the finish water permeable. This leads to one of two things: either the leather dries out and cracks, or it absorbs moisture and begins to deteriorate. Applying the proper treatment chemicals to your leather and swede will preserve them almost indefinitely. For conventional leather, your best bet is to use oil and polish. Mink oil is great for boots and jackets because it moistens the leather while also making it impervious to water. Rain and snow will just bead up and roll off. It also adds some depth and richness to the hue of your clean leather garment. Other, lighter oils (even olive oil!) can be used to a similar effect. For suede, there are “protecting” sprays that are even lighter, which mainly serve to make the suede more hydrophobic (i.e., resistant to water).
Tip #3: Leather And Suede Storage Is Key
Like any other living thing, leather needs to breath. This means storing your leather and suede garments in a well-ventilated room or closet. This prevents mildew growth and other harmful decomposing processes. Suede garments that you don’t wear often should be kept wrapped in butcher paper or a pillow case. Temperature and light control are also very important. Sunlight in particular can steadily break down the fibers and proteins in leather, as well as fading the beautiful stains that give leather its deep color. As for temperature, fluctuations are the worst. Any big temperature swings will, over time, lead to the evaporation of moisture and warping and cracking in your leather. It will also become stiff and uncomfortable to wear. Leather and suede should be kept at constant room temperature whenever you aren’t wearing it (60-degrees Fahrenheit or 20-degrees Celsius).
Tip #4: Know How To Removing Stains
No matter how careful you are, we all get stains on our clothing. Ironically, this seems to apply doubly to fancy garments like leather and suede. When you do spill something on these materials, you have to act quickly, but it’s also easy to do more harm than good if you don’t know what you’re doing. For suede, dry stains can be removed with a pencil eraser. Wipe with a paper towel first, and rub the eraser lightly along the grain. The eraser will pill up and lift the stain right off the suede if you act quickly. For wet stains, blot with a paper towel to raise the nap, and then wipe gently with a cloth and white vinegar. Deeper stains can be lifted by applying baking soda, waiting a few hours, and taking a suede brush to it.
If all else fails, take it to a professional cleaner. We have dry cleaning processes designed specifically to penetrate deeply with minimal stress on the fibers. Better safe than sorry!