All designs © Ann Ringness Leather
UNDERSTANDING YOUR LEATHER AND SUEDE GARMENTS
The increased customer demand for leathers and suede has underscored the need for accurate information for the general public, dry cleaners, retailers and manufacturers concerning all types of leathers. For this reason we wanted to inform our customers in understanding your leather and suede.
Most leather and suede products will clean beautifully when processed by a professional suede and leather cleaner. However there are some exceptions due to the quality and/or condition of the skin.
Leathers and suede which have been processed and refinished occasionally vary in color and finish from the original garments/bags for one or more of the following reasons:
1.) BASIC DYE - The penetration of dye varies from skin to skin. Some dyes penetrate the skins, coloring them uniformly throughout. Others show resistance and only dye the surface of the skins. In other cases, the dyes used are solvent soluble, resulting in excessive dye loss during the accepted cleaning process. It is extremely difficult to restore skins with solvent soluble dyes to their original color.
2.) OXIDATION AND SUNFADING - Some colors tend to fade and oxidize during normal wear or storage. It is generally impossible to restore blues, greens, aquas and salmon pinks to their original brightness. However, depending on the degree of fading, the color loss can be masked to some degree by re-tinting. The original color, however, may be not restored completely.
3.) SMOOTH LEATHERS: “FINISHED AND UNFINISHED OR NAKED SKINS” - Finished skins have a sprayed on leather finish, which is sometimes lost during the accepted cleaning process. In those cases, the garments/bags must be refinished to cover fading, stains, etc. Because of the number of colors and the variations between them, there could be a slight difference from the original color.
4.) ANTIQUED LEATHERS – An antique finish will not be exactly the same after cleaning. A new finish must be applied after processing which will not duplicate the original shading and patterns exactly. The color and feel of the leather may change slightly.
SPOTS AND STAINS
Any protein, such as blood, egg or milk, has an affinity to leathers. These types of stains are usually difficult to remove by normal spotting and cleaning procedure. There is always the possibility of the color removal or skin injury to the garments/bags.
Most manufacturers generally use color fast dyes when matching suede or leather trim to cloth garments/bags. However, when dark suede or leather is used with light cloth or highly concentrated shades of suede and leather are adjacent to each other in one garment or bag, there is always the possibility of dye transfer or color from the dark color to the light.
Many skins contain defects caused by lice, grub infestations, scars caused by wounds etc. The manufacturer is able to mask many of these defects by treating the skins with oils, dyes or pigments. The masking dyes are not color fast and therefore fade during processing. When this happens, the skin defects become very noticeable. They appear as a light area on the suede and a dark area on grain leather.
BELLY WRINKLES AND THIN SKIN
Belly wrinkles and thin skins have inherent damage. Wrinkles that stop at the seams of specific panels are called “belly wrinkles”. Thin skins (split or shaved skins) usually have unevenness in nap. When the skins are cleaned the surface tissues are exposed and the belly wrinkles and thin weal areas become evident. Holes can develop easily in these areas during normal wear and cleaning.
Suede and leathers have a natural tendency to draw up slightly and contract as the skins dry out and natural oils are lost. In most cases, proper cleaning restores most oils and extends the life of the garment/bag. Slight shrinkage is eased by the body heat during wearing and the garment/bag will take on body conformity. In other cases depending on the degree of shrinkage, the garment/bag can be satisfactorily stretched by a specific processing technique.
Pigskin does not respond to cleaning and spotting as well as other leathers. It has very little nap and varies from skin to skin in color and texture. Because of the fiber structure of the skin, spots and stains soak deeply into the skin and are very difficult to remove. The type of cement used in seams and hems of some pigskins bleed through to the surface and leave dark marks and stains which are difficult to remove.
SPLIT COWHIDE [BUSH COATS]
Split cowhide has a very rough texture and a heavy fullness of hand when compared with other leathers. It losses it’s color and oils more readily during cleaning than other leathers causing a slightly harsher feel. Because of the rough texture these skins are very difficult to re-tint.
FOREIGN TANNED GARMENTS/BAGS
Certain garments tanned in foreign countries have been tanned and dried by process which is not always compatible with our cleaning and refinishing procedures and/or chemicals. Most foreign skins are top dried for a brighter appearance. There vivid colors tend to fad and bleed easily during normal processing. These garments/bags tend to react more adversely to cleaning and refinishing than domestically manufactured garments.
The lining in most leather and suede gloves are glued to the inside of the fingers. In most cases, the cleaning solvent will dissolve the glue causing the linings to come loose.
PLASTICS AND VINYLS
Plastics and vinyls are manufactured with many different formulas by hundreds of different manufacturers. Most of these materials will dry clean satisfactorily under controlled conditions. However, even when handled carefully, the material may shrink, stiffen and peel when exposed to certain chemicals used in dry cleaning.
HELPFUL HINTS AT THE TIME OF PURCHASE
• Read care labels and hang tags carefully…save them.
• Question salespeople before making you purchase.
• Be sure of decoration…keep it simple…due to the mechanical action, fancy decorations may not stand-up during the normal cleaning procedure.
• Buy from reputable stores or artisans.
HELPFUL HINTS AT THE TIME OF WEARING
• Wear a scarf around your neck to prevent the garment from becoming soiled by skin oils.
• Avoid cleaning fluids, shoe creams and saddle soaps.
• Do not allow a leather garment to become over soiled. (Most people have a tendency to wear split-cowhide garments far too long which creates heavy ingrained soil.) Remember…age sets spots and stains. Garments should be cleaned by a professional suede and leather cleaner.
• Avoid storing in areas of extreme temperature, wetness or dryness. Do not store in plastic bags; leathers must have air circulation to keep theme from drying out. Do not store soiled garments/bags. Store in cool ventilated closet on the proper hanger or professionally store.
• Wet garments should be allowed to dry our naturally. DO NOT PUT GARMENT IN HEAT. After drying, a high density type sponge will raise the nap again. If the wet garment is dirty, it may need professional cleaning.
• Grained leathers may be cleaned by wiping with mild detergent and lukewarm water and then drying and buffing with a soft cloth.
• Suede can be brushed clean with a sponge, rubber brush or special sued brush. Heavily soiled suede should be professionally cleaned.
• Press suede and leathers with the lowest setting on the iron. DO NOT USE STEAM. Press with heavy brown paper between the iron and the material. Press one panel at a time, constantly moving the iron to avoid hot spots.
HELPFUL HINTS AT THE TIME OF CLEANING
• Genuine suede and leather requires special processing to preserve finish, feel and color. Therefore, you should take you garment to a professional suede and leather cleaner equipped this type of cleaning.
• Care labels and hang tags should accompany your suede or leather garment when taken to be cleaned.
• Unless all pieces of a multi-piece outfit are processed at the same time there cannot be a guarantee that they will match after cleaning.
• Inform your cleaner of stains or spots, whether visible or not. They will then know how best to handle your garment.
• It is good practices to remove all buckles, ornaments and hardware or ask your cleaner for special.
• Remove articles from pockets.
HELPFUL HINTS AFTER CLEANING
• Inspect your garments immediately. Do not wait several months before you remove them from the bag. Should you have any problems or questions, do not hesitate to contact your professional suede and leather cleaner.
*If you have bought a leather item from me and have any questions on the care of your leather please contact me or come to any of my art shows on the show schedule.