Understanding Leather & Suede Cleaning
With modern cleaning techniques, cleaning leathers and suedes has never been safer. Beginning in the fall of 1994, Hudson and Ram introduced to New England a new, environmentally-safe process, which used water-based cleaning agents instead of stronger chemicals (such as Perc or petroleum-based solvents). Hudson is now proudly licensed by GreenEarth® Cleaning to use their Leather Solutions silicon-based solvent to provide state-of-the-art cleaning in an environmentally friendly way.
While it is generally safe, and desirable, to clean most leathers, it is important to understand that leathers and suedes are not the same as manufactured fabrics. Many cleaners will remember the days when most cottons shrank. Today, most cottons are pre-shrunk before being fabricated into clothing. Unlike modern cottons, wools, or synthetic fabrics, leather and suede garments come from individual animals so each skin is unique. Thus, the retail customer cannot expect that leathers and suedes will come through the cleaning process as uniformly as garments made from standardized, manufactured fabrics.
The closest analogy to understanding leather and suede garments is to recognize that they are like shoes. You, like your customers, were careful to get the right size and the right fit in the store, but once you wore your shoes, the shoes gradually conformed to your feet. The size eight you may have bought in the store is no longer size eight. It's a size eight that has adjusted to fit your foot.
Similarly, leather or suede adjusts not only to fit its owner's body shape; it has adjusted additionally to its "history", ie., to being subjected to physical wear and tear, to scuffing and scraping, to spills and drips, and to the hazards of rain, puddles, grease, dirt, and other damage. Thus, expecting a leather or suede to look "just like new" after cleaning is a little like expecting well-worn shoes to appear like new after having been polished.
Leathers are very durable, but they can stretch, shrink, scrape, scar, crack, peel, and lose their natural or dyed colors. At Hudson we use our experience and expertise to carefully clean and restore your garment to the best condition possible.
Normal dry cleaning of leather and suede garments will not generally yield the best results. When cleaning is required, use only an experienced leather cleaning service.
Two-piece leather and suede garments should be cleaned at the same time to avoid the slight variation in color or texture that might occur as a result of the cleaning process.
A water-repellent is also recommended to prevent the absorption of moisture during rainy weather, and to protect the surface of the garment. Use a professional leather cleaner to apply this.
Home Care of Leather & Suedes
- Leather and suede garments should be stored in a cool, ventilated area on broad, padded hangers -- not on thin wire hangers. The larger hanger will help garments maintain their shape.
- Leathers and suedes should NOT be stored in plastic bags, which can cause drying out of the garment's natural oils. Excess humidity can also become trapped in a plastic bag, which causes mold, mildew, or funguses to grow on the garment. Remove any plastic bags in which a leather garment may be returned to you from your cleaner (they use plastic bags to protect the garment only during transit ). Also, do not store leather garments in non-breathable garment bags.
- If a leather or suede garment becomes wet, air-dry in an open, well-ventilated area; do not let excess humidity build-up. DO NOT APPLY HEAT. After air- drying, avoid storing where the garment can be exposed to excess humidity. Again, leather and suede can develop mold, mildew, or funguses under humid storage conditions.
- Whenever possible, wear a muffler, scarf, or a turtle-neck top to avoid a heavy build-up of perspiration around a garment's collar. Perspiration and oils from the skin will cause a noticeable and hard-to-remove stain.
- Don't apply hair sprays or sprayed perfumes while wearing a leather or suede garment. The solvents and oils in these products will damage the leather finish. Also, do not use pins, adhesive badges, or tape on a leather garment because these can damage the finish.
- Wipe away dust and dirt with a soft, barely-moist, sponge or cloth.