How to wash suede leather clothing
It is always hard to know what to do if suede leather needs cleaning. You can't just get it wet and use any old cleaning product. You can dry-clean suede clothing but it can be very expensive.
I recently washed two suede garments that had been in storage for a long time, using the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin wash shampoo.
The suede jacket and suede vest smelt musty, and where unwearable because of the terrible smell. The musty odour was probably mould that had started to infect the leather and the fabric lining.
Washing a suede leather vest with Tibetan lamb collar
The suede vest was a beige colour and had a light beige Tibetan lamb collar.
We had never used the woolskin wash to wash Tibetan lamb before so this was a real experiment.
The suede vest had some dark marks inside, around the bottom edge of the garments from wear. Possibly some dye transfer from jeans.
I washed the leather vest by hand in a hand-basin in cold water using the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin wash.
Once the vest was thoroughly wet, I let it soak for about 20 minutes to make sure the cleaner got deep inside the leather fibers and made contact with the mould to kill it.
Then I gently massaged the leather vest to push the water through the leather.
I even tried a light scrub with a nail brush over the areas with the dark marks. But this didn't do much to remove the marks.
The marks improved slightly but where NOT removed completely. I don't know what the marks where from but they would not budge.
Some of the beige dye came out into the water but it didn't seem to make any difference to the suede colour once the vest was dry.
I then rinsed the suede vest in fresh water twice to make sure all the cleaning product was rinsed out. I put the vest on a coat hanger and let it drip over the bath for a day.
I gave the Tibetan lambskin collar a light brush while wet to de-tangle the curly wool and make it sit in a downward direction.
I allowed the vest to dry slowly and naturally in a spare bedroom. It took about 1 week to feel dry. I then put it into the hot water airing cupboard for another week (which is a warm dry area) just to make sure it was properly dry.
And the finished result looks so much fresher and smells just like suede should - wonderful! The Tibetan lambskin collar looks amazing, soft and fluffy.
The musty smell was gone and I was then able to sell this suede vest knowing that it could be worn by its new owner safely.
Washing a suede leather jacket
This beige pig skin suede leather jacket is a similar story to the suede vest.
The jacket had been in storage for ages and smelt terrible. The satin lining was particularly stinky and musty but their was no visible sign of mould. I had tried airing it out in the sun but it was still to stinky to wear.
The leather jacket had dark marks around the edges of the cuffs and hem-line. Just the normal marks that you get on a light coloured leather jacket over time.
I washed the suede jacket in the bath using cold water and the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin leather wash.
I forgot that I had treated the suede leather jacket with a water-proofer spray years ago so it took ages to get wet. I had to really press it down into the water.
For this reason I let it soak for about 1 hour to make sure it was really wet.
Just like the vest I gave the marked areas a light scrub with a plastic nail brush. This time I had a lot more success removing the marks. Most of the dark marks came off quite well.
Next a swish around in fresh water for a while and a good double rinse with more fresh water. Followed by dripping over the bath on a coat hanger just like the vest.
This time I hung the jacket outside to dry but in the shade on a warm summer day. I bought it in at night, and made sure it never got any direct sunlight. With the warm summer breeze the suede jacket was dry within three days.
I love this jacket, but alas it no longer fits me. So it will need to be sold, so that the next person can enjoy it.
I can't tell if there was any leather shrinkage from the washing but it looks the same to me.
And the colour has not changed, the jacket just looks fresher and cleaner. And the wrinkles from being packed away had also relaxed.
Both the suede vest and suede jacket could not be worn or sold in their horrible musty & dirty condition.
So my main goal with my suede cleaning exercise, was to be able to use or sell these suede garments again after so long in storage.
By cleaning the suede I have rescued them and given these garments a chance at new extended life.
Not all marks can be removed from suede by washing but it's always good to try this before the more expensive option of dry-cleaning.
Suede can watermark so we do not recommend spot cleaning. It is always better to get the whole garment wet.
Don't wash any suede that is valuable, precious or sentimental to you. If it really matters then get it dry-cleaned by the leather specialist. Every suede cleaning scenario is different. All suede washing is done at your own risk.