Leather and suede garments are an investment which should be cleaned by skilled professionals. Routine cleaning is recommended to aid in the longevity of your leather products.
Leather cleaning is a specialised process that is designed to preserve the look and feel of the leather garment. Leather garments are extremely durable and if properly treated and cared for will last for many years.
At Newey’s we carefully grade and inspect each garment prior to cleaning. Unlike cleaning normal fabrics the cleaning of suede and leather requires extensive work post cleaning to restore the garment to it’s original condition.
We provide a suede, skins, and leather cleaning service for a range of garments including coats, jackets, suits, waistcoats, skirts, trousers, and motorcycle cycle leathers.
Due to the complexity of the processes involved in leather
cleaning, service times vary depending on the degree of soiling and staining and whether any alterations or repairs are requested.
What You Can Expect After Cleaning Leather garments are made of skins taken from various portions of the animal and usually from several different animals. The manufacturer tries to match the skins so that your garment is as uniform as possible, but even with the best matching, there will be some variance in texture, weight, and colour uniformity. These variations may be accentuated after cleaning.
Loss of Colour
Be prepared to see a slight variance in the depth of colour after cleaning. In manufacture, the tanner immersed the skin in a dye bath to obtain a uniform colour, but skins from various parts of the animal may vary in colourfastness. The cleaner can correct some colour variance, but must rely on spray dyeing, which will not dye the suede or leather to the same degree as the original immersion process.
Loss of Oils
During tanning, leathers are impregnated with oils to keep them supple. Some of these oils are lost in cleaning, and although the professional leather cleaner has special additives to restore suppleness, there could be some change in the feel or hand of the garment.
The animal’s skin may have been injured while it was alive by briars, barbed wire, diseases, or fights with other animals. The resulting scar tissue does not dye evenly, so it is covered with fillers before dyeing. These fillers are removed in cleaning, and the original scar tissue will become more apparent, usually as a light area.
Some thick skins are split, revealing the veins in the skin as irregular, wavy lines. These are also marked with fillers and reappear after cleaning.
Skins taken from the loose neck or belly portion of an animal are naturally wrinkled. As the skins relax with age, the wrinkles reappear. The agitation that occurs in cleaning can cause greater relaxation of the leather, accentuating the wrinkles.
The manufacturer tries to select skins of uniform texture for a garment, but sometimes smoother skin is combined with a skin or portion of skin with a coarser texture. Cleaning may make his variance more apparent.
Some shrinkage will likely occur in your garment over time as the skins relax. This may be accentuated in cleaning. As you wear a leather garment it tends to conform comfortably to your body. After cleaning, the garment may feel a little uncomfortable or snug when you first put it on. As you wear it this feeling will dissipate. Sometimes skins are overstretched in manufacture and relax permanently. This problem cannot be anticipated by the cleaner.
Some skins are extremely thin and too fragile for use in apparel. These skins tend to wear exceptionally fast even with normal usage. The agitation of cleaning will further aggravate the damage of thin skins.
Oxidation (Colour Change)
Dyes can oxidize from exposure to light and gases in the atmosphere. This is a slow, progressive condition that develops with age. It may become more noticeable after cleaning, but protected areas, such as under the collar, will retain more of the original colour.
Colour Shading from Adhesives
Adhesives are sometimes used to glue seams, hems, and other areas during construction. These glues or adhesives may not be solvent resistant. Sometimes the glues don’t dissolve completely, but leach through the leather and cause shaded areas.
The texture of skins varies, and some skins tend to absorb more of the fat liquors and cleaning additives in cleaning and come out a little darker in some areas than others. Sometimes this shading can be seen on the garment before cleaning, but cleaning will accentuate it. It is a natural phenomenon that is beyond the control of the cleaner.
Leather buttons and leather piping on fabric items sometimes cause problems by bleeding colour onto the adjacent fabric. All attached trim should be able to withstand the care method on the label; if this problem occurs, the item should be returned to the store where it was purchased. A fashion trend is to attach dark coloured suede, leather or snakeskin trim on white or pastel cloth garments. In many cases the attached trim is fugitive to all drycleaning solvents. Cleaning by any other method may cause permanent loss or transfer onto the cloth portion of the garment.
Drycleaners may choose not to accept the risk of processing these items based on the evidence of colourfastness tests performed. Once dye bleeding and transfer occur in cleaning, restoration is usually not possible.
Imitation Leathers and Suedes
Imitation leathers and suedes are produced in a variety of ways and are sometimes difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Smooth leather-like fabrics may be coated with vinyl-based or urethane-based films. Suede-like fabrics may be made with nonwoven urethane structures or may be knit or woven fabrics flocked to look like suede.
It is very important to check the care label on an imitation leather or suede. Some of these fabrics are quite fragile and will not withstand drycleaning. The most common problem is failure of a film coating or of an adhesive. This results in self-sticking of the fabric or in blistering or puckering of the coating. On flocked items, the flocked coating may be lost in wear areas such as collars and cuffs. Cleaning may aggravate this condition. Nonwoven structures usually withstand drycleaning very well.