How to Care for Leather, Wool, Velvet and Suede

How to Care for Leather, Wool, Velvet and Suede

Fall clothes, bags, and shoes are diverse in color, texture, and material. This diversity can create amazing outfits and looks, but it can also make for some challenges when it comes to caring for these distinct fabrics. Did you drop a meatball on your wool pants? Get salad dressing on your leather bag? Did your uber driver's sticky seat substance get stuck to your velvet dress? Are your suede boots looking dingier now than when you pulled them fresh out of the box? We've all been there, but we haven't always known what to do about it. Here are some tips for caring for your favorite fall fabrics (definitions provided by The Laundress)

Leather: The tanned skin of an animal, categorized as either a hide or skin. Hides are sourced from large animals, while skins are derived from small animals (and are thinner than hides).

First, 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. It's always best to wash on the gentle cycle with cold water.

Leather trim Is usually 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. Sweaters with patches and trims, accessories with collars, and pants with patches are instances of trim that are 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. 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. Want to worry less? Check out these washable, yes WASHABLE, leather pieces from Stouhls

Wool: An elastic fiber derived from the sheep, goat, camel, alpaca, llama, rabbit, keeshond or vicuña. Wool is fire retardant and resistant to water, odor, and stains. The crimp retains heat and repels cold.

To care for wool, first, wash gently. Dry cleaning works well but can get pricey. In most cases, it’s safe to hand wash wool (including blends), but let the care label be your guide. Add 2 squirts of a delicates wash to a sinkful of tepid water. Turn the garment inside out; submerge, swish, then soak for 10 minutes. Rinse twice, pressing out the water. Never wring or hang-dry, since wet wool stretches easily.

Next, dry your garment flat. Lay the garment on a clean towel and roll it up like a jelly roll to extract water. Unfurl and let dry on a new towel or a mesh rack. Reshape, or “block,” the knit. You can adjust the fit slightly bigger or smaller, and as the garment dries it will set in place.

Next, shave off fuzz balls a fabric-safe device with different blades for heavy, medium, and fine knits. Finally, store safely. Fold knits and place them in an airtight plastic bin as opposed to a cedar chest as it will be more airtight and free of pests. Throw in a sachet, filled with ½ cup dry lavender (bugs hate the stuff) and store in a cool, dry place.

Looking for your next wool statement piece, check out these finds for inspiration

Wool Words/Tips Source 

Velvet: Woven, tufted fabric with threads cut to form a short, dense pile. Originally made of silk, now also made with cotton, rayon, or synthetic fibers. Its distinctive texture easily attracts lint and dust.

As far as fabrics go, velvet is definitely one of the more difficult ones to deal with. When you buy a velvet piece for your wardrobe, be sure to check the label before you buy. After your purchase, follow these simple tips to keep it clean.

First, dry cleaning is always a good idea as velvet is one of the most common fabrics you'll need to dry clean. The most expensive type of velvet is pure velvet, which is an acetate and viscose blend. The cleaning instructions on your label depend on the type of velvet you buy, but if you invested in an expensive piece, dry clean it just to be safe. Some velvets are okay to machine wash, and your clothing labels will give you guidance. Typically, crushed velvet and polyester-blend velvets will be good to go, but that's not a guarantee. Velvet items are typically stretchy, so avoiding washing in hot water if you don't want your clothes to shrink.

Try natural stain removers. If you stain a velvet item but don't want to take it to be dry cleaned, it's often worth it to clean the stain at home. You can buy a bottle of dry clean solvent, but the chemicals in those products are a little bit questionable. Velvet can be cleaned naturally with a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice. The two stain-fighting ingredients combined can help remove tough stains. Make sure you use a very diluted version of this solution and test it on a small patch of your clothing first.

Finally, avoid the iron. Velvet's texture is different than almost any other fabric, and that's because it has what's called a "pile." A pile is the tiny fibers you feel when you when you run your hand over a piece of velvet clothing. Although heat can be good for refreshing velvet fabric, never iron it, even using the steam feature. The iron can crush the pile and completely ruin your clothing. 

Looking for fresh velvet finds? From jackets to shoes, we have hundreds of options

Velvet Words/Tips Source

Suede: A type of velvety leather that has been brushed or otherwise napped for a soft, supple hand. It is commonly used for jackets, shoes, handbags, and accessories.

First, understand your suede. Suede isn’t nearly as durable standard leather. What’s more, suede can vary in “length” depending on how raised the fuzzy surface is. This is important because the tools you use to treat your suede will depend on the length of the nap.

Second, protect your suede before you leave the house- if you take the time to perform some preventative measures, your suede will stay pristine a lot longer. Luckily, all this takes is a quick application of both water and stain protectors, both of which act like a barrier that repel unwanted substances from coming in contact with your suede. Any shoe store or pharmacy should carry it.

Next, invest in a suede brush.This may seem like an gratuitous purchase, but it’ll become your suede’s best friend. If your suede falls prey to something dry like dirt or a scuff, reach for the brush and get to buffing. You want to buff the suede vigorously back and forth but not so vigorously that it starts to fade, the point being to raise the nap up (aka get it “fluffy”) so dirt and other dry particles aren’t caught beneath a flat nap. Remember that suede is technically skin. You spend a lot of time and effort taking care of your skin, so show some of the same love to your suede. After each wear, brush the piece to remove dust and dirt before putting it away. The better you care you of it regularly, the longer it’ll last.

If your suede gets wet, gently blot away as much of the water as possible, as fast as possible with paper or cloth towels, then let it air dry at room temperature. If it’s shoes, blot and then stuff with towels so they hold their shape. Do not, under any circumstances, try to dry it with heat. If the water dries and leaves a stain behind, break out your spray bottle and spritz the whole thing with a light mist of water. When that dries, it should help the stain blend in.

If a non-water liquid is to blame, blot like usual but with a bit more force. When you’ve blotted up as much of the liquid as you can with the paper towel, bring in some white vinegar. Dampen a clean, white towel with water, dip it into the white vinegar, then gently rub at the stain without soaking the suede. Not into the idea of putting vinegar on your suede? After you blot, sprinkle the spot with cornmeal or talcum powder. Let it sit overnight, then brush the suede to get rid of the powder and stain. 

If it’s oil or grease, grab a box of baking soda. As fast as humanly possible, blot up excess oil with dry paper towels, then sprinkle the spot with baking soda. Gently wipe off the baking soda, then reapply. Keep wiping and adding more until it seems like you’ve removed as much oil as possible. Then add one more layer, let it sit for a few hours to give the baking soda one last chance to work its magic, then gently brush it away with a suede brush.

Want to add more suede to your wardrobe? Check out these amazing finds

Suede Words/Tip Source

Alright, friends, by now you should feel more than prepared to take on those fall fabrics and the stains that come from your own mistakes, clumsiness of others, and freak accidents! Still need help taking charge on your fall wardrobe? Schedule an appointment with one of our Personal Shoppers today

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