So you love your cropped biker jacket like you were born wearing it and have at least three pairs of leather pants (because the cropped v fitted v coloured investment dilemma is real). While there’s plenty to be thankful for now the cool weather makes leather a wardrobe staple again, here’s the elephant in the room: you can’t wear them forever without considering cleaning. (You wouldn’t wear your jeans 40 times in a row without a launder, would you?) And professional leather cleaning literally costs a bomb.
Good news is that DIY leather love is easier – and cheaper – than you might expect. We asked expert Madison Bryers, Creative Director at luxe leatherwear brand Winston Wolfe for her tips on how to best care for your fave pieces, what to do if they get sweaty or (god forbid) damaged and how to avoid heart-stopping dry cleaning bills with some in-the-know at-home blitzage.
First up, tell us honestly – does leather really need to be cleaned? “Yes! We tell our customers to have their leather clothing professionally cleaned once a year, either at the beginning or end of the winter season. Leather pieces will last the ages if you treat them nicely.”
How exactly do the pros do it and why does it cost so much? “I have personally contacted all the top leather cleaners in Australia and no one will tell me the tricks of the trade.”
Help us with Scenario A: you’ve been wearing a leather top or jacket with just a singlet or bra underneath. How do you keep the inside armpit areas clean at home? “Personally, I use Dettol Glen 20. Hang your jacket inside out and lightly spray the lining with Glen 20. Don’t directly spray the leather. Then leave it hanging inside out overnight, and by morning the armpit areas should be germ and odour free.”
And Scenario B: you’ve been wearing leather pants in a hot club or outside in summer. How do you get the inner lining clean yourself? “Put your pants inside out, pop them in a tightly-sealed plastic bag and put them in the freezer overnight to kill bacteria and remove odour. You can spot clean the lining of your pants with a damp white cloth – emphasis on the WHITE cloth – avoiding the leather.”
Scenario C: your favourite pale leather piece gets a wine/pen/dirt/mystery stain on it. What can you do? “As quickly as possible use a white cloth and warm water to dab the stain. Don’t rub as you will abrade the skin and ruin the garment. Do not use chemicals. If you can’t get the stain off with water, take it to a leather cleaner.”
Do you have any other secret at-home leather cleaning tips or tricks? “Waterproof your leather garments as soon as you purchase them. It will make stain mishaps a little easier to navigate. You’ll have better luck getting any stains out yourself. And avoid folding your leather garments – it can damage them. Keep them hung up on a coat hanger in a cool, dry place. Some leathers have a tendency to dry and crack, so you may want to use a leather conditioner every few years to keep the leather soft, just make sure you spot test in a discreet place (underarm or crotch area) to test the leather reaction first.”
Is there anything you should absolutely never do to leather yourself? “Never rub leather – it’s unfixable. Never put cleaning chemicals directly onto your leather. Never use a coloured cloth to clean your leather as the dye may transfer to the garment. Always test in a discreet area first.”
LASTLY, WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO REPAIR SMALL RIPS, LIKE A TEAR IN THE KNEE OR SLEEVE AREA? “I’d never advise a DIY fix on a leather rip, take it to a leather specialist who can repair it for you.”