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Leather and Suede Cleaning - a few facts

Unlike normal fabric cleaning, there are inherent characteristics in leather, suede and sheepskin garments that make cleaning extremely difficult and the results often unpredictable:

  • During the wet processes of skin preparation, tanning and dyeing, the skin will be under tension and it increases in length and width; when it is cleaned this tension can be lost and the garment can reduce in size.

  • Not all marks, dirt and stains can be removed because ingrained dirt can penetrate the skin and damage it.

  • If a garment has a white or light coloured lining or collar there is always the possibility that the colour may run from the outer skin to discolour them and it is not always possible to get them completely clean again. Similarly, if a garment has panels or facings of different colours, where the dye used is not resistant to cleaning solvent one colour may bleed into a surrounding area.

  • Due to the dispersement of natural oils and dye there may well be a difference in colour and texture as a result of cleaning, especially after the first time the garment is cleaned. Both parts of a suit should be cleaned together to minimise variation in shade but it is not uncommon for one part to be a different colour from the other, even when cleaned in the same process. No responsibility will be accepted for colour differences when part of a matching suit or any other matching part is sent for cleaning without the other. However, we make every effort to minimize differences and do our best to restore colours during the finishing process.

  • The use of incorrect adhesives during garment manufacture, to secure hems, cuffs, facings and other parts or "Borg" linings, may result in the adhesive coming to the surface during cleaning showing as stains on the surface of the garment.

  • Suede and leather garments are made of panels of skins stitched together. The skin used will come from a number of animals and may not match in thickness or texture. Cleaning may emphasise the variations in texture, handle and colour.

  • Zips, trimmings, buckles or buttons are sometimes made of plastic that can severely degrade, shrink or even dissolve when cleaned and then contaminate the face of the garment.

  • Leather manufacturers sometimes disguise natural defects in the skin such as scar tissue, vein marks and wrinkles. When a garment is cleaned these imperfections can become more apparent.

  • Garments manufactured using weak skins are liable to break up or tear during the cleaning process.


We stress that we always take the greatest care of garments entrusted to us. Any good specialist cleaner will be aware of potential problems such as those listed above and will ensure that you too understand how your garment may react to the cleaning process. We always like to discuss your individual garment with you before we commence the cleaning process.

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