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Author Topic: Cleaning leather, anyone know how to?  (Read 2112 times)
JingleJoe
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« on: November 14, 2009, 07:14:22 pm »

Title says it all, anyone know how to clean leather? what cleaning products should I use? what have you used?

The leather in question is quite thick and very old, rather mucky and smells like mould and musty oldness Smiley as good as this is, the smell is too strong Undecided
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Taillte
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2009, 08:12:14 pm »

saddle soap? We used that on old riding saddles that got moldy, gross and smelled like horse butt. You have to wipe it off afterwards with a damp cloth. Then once its dry use leather conditioner. I mean, I don't have any specific types to recommend. Everybody used different kinds. We used Tanner's Saddle Soap.

I mean, I don't know if it would work for your leather, I just know that it worked well for the gross old tack that we had lying around at the barn.
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Vagabond GentleMan
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2009, 09:03:23 pm »

Yep, saddle soap is best.  If not readily accessible, I've used diluted, non-scented, castille-based soaps to gently clean leather with great success as well.  Be gentle, be careful, use a damp but not dripping cloth to rinse.  The thinner the leather, the more imperative it is to prevent it from getting TOO wet.  Then a leather conditioner to preserve it.

Do you know the thickness and grade of the leather, or could you describe it?
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2009, 11:33:36 pm »

yes, if you cannot get saddle soap, any non scented glycerin base soap will work. just try not to soak it. afterwards when its dry you can recondition it with an oil/wax like neatsfoot if it  is topgrain/finished side leather ( not recommended for suedes)
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Quinn
greensteam
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2009, 11:50:52 pm »

A UK brand reasonably available is Dubbin ( a soft soap in an orangey tin). You dont say  what the item is, but it may be possible to wash it. The reason we dont usually get told to wash leather is that it can turn a bit hard after, but a bit of working with the hands can usually sort that. After all leather shoes and coats get wet in the rain and remain wearable.

If this is really smelly and mouldy then perhaps some fungicide in the rinsing water might be an idea?

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JingleJoe
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2009, 11:54:05 pm »

moldy, gross and smelled like horse butt
Above: Accurate description of my leather Cheesy

Saddle soap, brilliant, thankyou all! Smiley
Any good instructions for use?
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Taillte
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2009, 12:01:55 am »

You should try to get as much dirt and stuff off of it as you can before you start the soap. Just wipe it down with a cloth. Apply the soap with a sponge and let it sit for just a minute. Wipe it off with a damp washcloth. Any residue can damage the leather. Then wipe it down with a dry cloth.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2009, 12:02:52 am »

fantastic thankyou very much Grin
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greensteam
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2009, 12:14:56 am »

Send us some pix now of grossed out leather and then when you have cleaned up!
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Taillte
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2009, 12:17:33 am »

Send us some pix now of grossed out leather and then when you have cleaned up!

yes. Do it.
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JingleJoe
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2009, 12:20:39 am »

Send us some pix now of grossed out leather and then when you have cleaned up!

yes. Do it.
I will :3
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Ben Hudson, Esq.
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« Reply #11 on: November 19, 2009, 07:32:54 pm »

I was about to post almost the same request Smiley

I, alas, am having more trouble. The piece in question is a canvas and leather bandoleer of unknown age, and it is very greasy. It is greasy to the touch and leaves brown smudges on... well, anything (which prevents me from wearing the darn thing).

I've tried saddle soap (several times, cleared some of the grease but still some way to go), and a few solvents (tested first, nothing too noxious). Anyone got any bright ideas?

The main problem is the thick leather belt part of it (pictures can be provided if needed) and the inside of the pouches. The outside of the pouches aren't too bad after all the saddlesoaping. The belt part, I am considering replacing if I can't make any progress, but the insides of the pouches are problematic because they're hard to clean and make things in the pouches all grubby...
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greensteam
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« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2009, 04:20:44 pm »

Canvas: have you tried scrubbing with damp scrubbing brush or toothbrush and salt?
Pouches: if they dont smell too bad, perhaps lining them with calico is the quickest option? Cut to shape and hotglue the lining in place.  if very damp still, perhaps some of those packets of silica gel?
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Ben Hudson, Esq.
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« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2009, 06:20:09 pm »

I'll give the salt a go. I'll clean the belt bit a few times then just replace the damn thing if no joy. As for the calico, topping idea. Don't know why the idea of lining them didn't occur to me.
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aquafortis
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« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2009, 10:25:56 pm »

As an aside, if you have somewhere dry and well-aired (draughty garage or carport?) you could hang the thing up there and get some air round it. Usually helps with smelly stuff. Make sure it's out of reach of cats in case they try to improve its odour.
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oldskoolpunk
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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2009, 08:55:54 am »

If all else fails, try this for mold:

Spray the leather very thoroughly with Lysol Spray Disinfectant.  Then put the item in a plastic bag, like a garbage bag, and spray in more Lysol Spray Disinfectant. Seal the bag.  Place the bag in another similar bag, and seal that one, too. You have now created an environment in which mold cannot live. Wait about a month, then open the bag.

Once you've killed the mold, clean with a leather cleaner.  Then use Hydrophane leather dressing, which is a silicone-based oil.  Horse equipment shops carry it.
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bisclavret
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« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2009, 04:56:54 am »

I had a belt for my RennFaire garb that did much the same thing, left a nasty wide greasy stain on my favorite shirt. Having had enough, and willing to try anything to salvage the belt, I scrubbed it several times with dishwashing soap (Dawn I believe) and then before it dried I gave it a liberal going over with (you guessed it) saddle soap. The saddle soap is important as it keeps the leather from drying and cracking after the degreasing effects of the harsh detergent.
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Ben Hudson, Esq.
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2009, 06:12:16 pm »

Aha, I was wondering about that. Seeing as you've had luck with that, I'll give it a go. Should clean up the canvas as well.

Is getting leather very wet a problem as long as it is dried out slowly but before it goes manky?
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Narsil
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2009, 06:45:43 pm »


Getting leather wet isn't a problem in itself but as you say it should be dried slowly somewhere warm and well ventilated but away frm direct heat. It should also be arranged in such a way that it maintains its proper shape since it will tend to 'set' in whatever shape it dries in. If its got really saturated it will probabaly also need conditioning and waxing.
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2010, 01:02:01 am »

Saddle soap is good but there are other products for restoring leather. Lexol is a brand that has several products. One is a liquid glycerin based cleaner. Dr. Jackson's is another brand. It's the one I prefer. They have a hide rejuvenator that is much better than saddle soap. It cleans, restores and conditions the leather.
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GriffinLeatherAndMetal
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« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2010, 01:12:51 am »

Lysol can help with the smell but you may have whets known as dry rot. When mold gets deep into the leather it sort of consumes it. Causing the fibers to break down. Leather can tear or turn to dust when this happens. If that’s the case, not a lot can be done.
But if its surface for the most part, Lysol can help, but it wont cure the smell. But it should NOT be used in heavy amounts as it contains distillates that can harm the flesh (leather). Topically it ok. But should be cleaned off after applying it.
For leather restoration I sometimes resort to Parsons white ammonia cut with water at 50/50.  But be for warned. It can darken leather. It can be used liberally with a light rubbing motion. Inside and out.
It is a solvent so it will do 2 things. Kill the mold and remove oils and lanolin from the hide. When letting it dry, make sure the leather is placed so it’s in the form or shape you want it in. Also....never place wet leather in a warm or hot place to dry. It will distort. The outside dries faster than the inside and it buckles.
Normally I would ask what kind of leather it is. The tanning process varies greatly with the kind of hide, its intended use and desired finish. But I will assume it’s a veg tanned hide with a light brown color.
After it’s cleaned...forgot...the leather should be patted down with a dry cloth to settle the leather fibers after it’s gently cleaned.
Anyway, it should be conditioned in order to replace the lanolin, waxes and oils that have been removed in the cleaning process. Saddle soap is never the answer to this. That’s a cleaner....and not a great one at that. It does have some lanolin and waxes in it that are good for the hide but not enough. Nets foot oil is ok but not top of the list either. It’s an oil and can attract dirt and other nasty junk. It’s ok to use on healthy leathers in very small amounts to replace lost oils, but should never be used in large amounts on damaged hides.
Top of the list is lanolin...preferably a tallow/oil or wax mix. Very expensive stuff. Lanolin is made from pressing the oil from sheep’s wool. It can be purchased, but there is no mix available that I know of. I make my own when needed.
So a combo of neat’s-foot oil and saddle soap may work. Alternate between the 2 in several light coats over time. Just take care to not use to much oil. And let it soak in for a week or so. It’s a slow process to bring leathers back.
Last thing. If you dont want it destroyed....take it to a pro. And always test a small spot first.
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