How To Clean All Kinds Of Leather

Leather pants at an evening rooftop party: so hot. A wine or oily hummus spill on said garment? Not so sexy. But, it can happen to the best of us. When two R29 editors came to me seeking advice on cleaning their leather and pleather pieces, I had to admit (despite owning several buttery selections of my own) I had no clue. Wipe it down?
I promptly emailed laundry goddesses (and founders of The Laundress) Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd. Their response: "When do you need this? Leather is quite complicated." Not that it's a pain to actually clean, but since both real animal skin and pleather have countless finishes, it's tough to make a blanket statement. She broke down the ways to keep all your pieces fresh, all sizzling summer long. So read up, then you can go back to applying that ketchup and mustard with abandon.

Pay Attention To The Label
If a piece says "not washable," you should definitely obey. Otherwise, go ahead and wash a small area before throwing it in the machine or sink. "Look for discoloration, spots, or other changes once the area has dried," Whiting says. It's always best to wash on the gentle cycle with cold water.

Leather Trim Is Usually A-Okay
Most trim is made of "garment-washed" leather, which means it can be washed, even if the piece is labeled "dry clean." That textile's already been run through water in the production phase. (Also, surprisingly a lot of dry-clean labels are misleading). She lists sweaters with patches and trims, accessories with collars, and pants with patches as instances of trim that's safe for washing.

Wipe Down Patent Leather
Best practices for your patent goods are to use a glass and mirror cleaner and then wipe down with a lint-free cleaning cloth. This type of leather should never be steamed.

Remove Oil Stains With Starch
"I will never forget dripping salad dressing on my new (sample sale), tan Ralph Lauren suede pants," Whiting says. The best remedy is to pour corn starch to absorb the oil. "It isn't instant, but let it take time to soak and eventually it will help."

Never Put In The Dryer
Just don't even think about it.

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