As you know, we’re big fans of charity shops but I am quite fussy about cleanliness (Ha ha, Mr Jane Makes would say, obsessional more like!). Anyhoo, this does mean that I subject charity shop clothing purchases to a close inspection and sniff before I buy them and everything goes straight in the wash when we get home. Mr J-M is less fussy and has been known to wear something immediately without sanitisation!
I’d been looking out for a black leather biker jacket for ages and when I spotted one in the Cancer Research shop I grabbed it straightaway, despite a slightly stale whiff. When I took it to the dry cleaners the following day I discovered it would cost £50 to clean it. I’m not that keen on dry cleaning at the best of times and I balked at spending that much with no guarantee of a good result.
I remembered I’d once had to handwash some leather gloves after they fell into a muddy puddle in a car park and weren’t discovered until I returned to the car several hours later! I decided to throw caution to the wind and wash the jacket. I found and ordered this product online. It was cheaper on Amazon but seems to be currently out of stock. It does say it can be used to wash leather in the washing machine but I decided that was a risk too far.
The bottle that arrived was a good deal smaller than I was anticipating and the instructions said to use between a third and half the contents for one wash. I ignored that and just used a couple of generous squirts in a sink full of tepid water. I swished the jacket around for a few minutes, giving the lining a good scrub. The water turned a very murky shade but I think (hope) that was the colour coming out of the leather rather than dirt!
I gave it a couple of rinses in fresh water. Again I ignored the instructions which said to rinse once to allow some of the conditioners in the shampoo stay in the leather.
Not surprisingly the jacket was soaking wet and impossible to wring out so I hung it on a plastic hanger in the garden overnight. Once it had stopped dripping I transferred it to a warm room for a day and finally popped it into the airing cupboard for a few hours. The aim was to ensure that it dried slowly to avoid it turning crispy!
Once it was completely dry I put it on and performed a few contortions to stretch it back into shape. The final step was to use some of this to feed and soften the leather.
We’ve been using this balsam on shoes for years. It worked really successfully on the jacket. The leather is lovely and soft and the smell has gone.
The shampoo was expensive but I’ve now passed it on to my sister who has three jackets to wash so the cost per wash will work out considerably cheaper than dry cleaning. To be honest, now I know it is possible to wash leather successful I’d be inclined to use a gentle wool wash next time which would work out much cheaper.
I’ve also bought a new pot of balsam but the previous one lasted years so it’s pretty good value.