You’ve bought some nice leather lingerie, so now how do you care for it? Leather, being skin, needs to have proper care just as your own skin does. By taking some simple steps, your leather lingerie should last for many years to come.
The first step in caring for your leather lingerie is proper handling and storage. Always store leather in a temperature stable environment, neither too hot or cold, as this will affect the life of the leather by drying out the oils in the hide. Avoid exposing your leather garments to high heat or direct sunlight for long periods of time for the reasons just mentioned. Also, do not store your leather lingerie in high humidity, damp areas or plastic bags, as the build-up of moisture can cause mildew (mold) to form, which is difficult to clean. Either hang leather garments on wooden or padded hangers or carefully fold them to avoid creases and wrinkles. Perfumes or deodorants should be applied and allowed to dry before putting on your leather lingerie to minimize alcohol and other chemicals contact with the leather and to help avoid staining. Perspiration or any perfume and/or deodorant should be wiped off as soon as possible with a damp sponge, then the leather should be allowed to dry naturally.
Unless your leather lingerie acquires serious stains, necessitating professional cleaning, you can clean your leather garments yourself. An excellent cleaner is “Murphy’s Oil Soap”, which works wonderfully and is gentle on leather, due to it being ph balanced. To clean, work up a lather of the Murphy’s with a damp sponge and rub gently into the leather, paying more attention to heavier soiled areas. Then rinse the sponge well and wipe the leather clean with the damp sponge. You may have to repeat the process in areas that are more soiled.
Try not to get the leather too wet, as that may cause it to shrink when it dries. One thing you may notice while cleaning is some lifting of the dye – this is normal and is simply excess dye. It should not affect the color of the garment. Allow the leather to air dry thoroughly, away from heat or sunlight for about 24 hrs. After that time, the leather may feel a bit stiff and will require a light coating of leather conditioner. One of the best leather conditioners is “Passier Lederbalsam”. It’s easy to apply (a finger works best!) and is specially formulated for fine leather goods – it also won’t rot the stitching.
Never use neatsfoot, mink or other like oils as they will make the leather over-oily and weak, inviting mildew to set in. Apply a thin coating of the Lederbalsam to the leather and let it sit for several hours to allow the absorption of the conditioner. Wipe off any excess with a clean, dry soft cloth and you’re done. It would be best to allow the leather to sit until the next day before use to make sure all the conditioner has soaked in and the leather is “dry”.
For cleaning of leather lingerie that has fabric incorporated into the design, you can clean the garment by gently hand-washing it in cold water using “Pepede”. “Pepede” is specially formulated for this purpose and is designed to not only clean the fabric and leather, but also not strip the leather of its essential oils. After gently rinsing, lay the wet garment on a clean, dry terrycloth towel, roll it up, then press to squeeze the water out of the garment. Never try to wring the water out of the leather!! You’ll probably need several towels to press as much of the moisture out of the leather as possible. Since you’ve gotten the leather soaked, the leather will have a tendency to shrink as it dries. The best way to avoid this is to wear the garment as it dries (you don’t have to put it on while it’s still quite wet, just while it’s still damp). After drying if the leather feels stiff, follow the instructions previously given to condition the leather. Never use a washer and dryer to clean leather. Also, leather shouldn’t be dry-cleaned as the chemicals used cause the leather to dry out and crack.
These care instructions apply to all top grain (smooth surface) leather goods. Suede would be handled and stored the same way, but not cleaned and conditioned. Suede requires different cleaning methods not covered in this article. Patent leather is cared for the same way as top grain leather, but doesn’t require conditioning due to the lacquer that is used to seal it and give it the glossy look.