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Seb Lucas
08-12-2009, 12:29 AM
I have washed a few of my jackets - goat and cow hide and of a good quality. Does this make them subject to cracking or does it weaken the leather?

I soaked them in a full bath with mild detergent to make them fit better and loosen them up. They took days to dry but now look much better. Then I Pecarded them.

Does this mean that they may now crack where the creases are?

Please answer this if you have personal experience or "know", since guesses are not going to offer an answer.

Best regards - Seb

aswatland
08-12-2009, 01:20 AM
John Chapman recommend hot water treatment and here's what he says from his flight jacket CD.

For the hot water technique, I simply let the leather sit under running hot water for about 30 seconds, and then dry it off (not letting the non-leather elements get wet). I then wrinkle the leather and try to get natural texture to come out, sometimes with very vigorous mashing of the leather with my hands.

Afterwards, I let the leather sit and dry naturally, or wear the jacket, as the leather really is completely wet. Since the leather's been mashed, the natural texture comes out and it looks a lot more like the older leather, rather than stiff and straight.

Using hot water on leather may cause it to shrink a little, and become stiff at first once it dries. If it's mashed over a period of time, it will be even more soft than when it was new, so the work involved can be quite a bit.

He does not mention the use of detergent, but it will remove the natural oils from the leather which could eventually cause the leather to deteriorate.

RP McMurphy
08-12-2009, 04:42 PM
Agreed... keep salts and detergents away from leather. The oils that are in the hide will come out (as they do with time) and will likely damage the fibers of the leather.

That being said, many "fashion" jackets are washed these days to give them an extremely soft feel... sort of like stonewashing a pair of levis. So the leather can take some abuse, however it won't look as naturally worn as if you wear it through a couple of good hard rain storms

;)

RP

Peacoat
08-12-2009, 06:24 PM
I have gently hand washed goat and cow jackets for a better fit with no problems. You are on the right track with the Pecards after the jacket dries.

Most leather jackets, other than mall fashion jackets, are made to endure the elements.

Seb Lucas
08-12-2009, 08:10 PM
Thanks all.

green papaya
08-12-2009, 11:25 PM
I somtimes wear my A2 in heavy rain storms a few times to weather it ;)

jac
08-13-2009, 01:26 AM
Of course it does, or it would be recommended care!

Isn't this obvious??

Seb Lucas
08-13-2009, 02:33 PM
Of course it does, or it would be recommended care!

Isn't this obvious??

That's funny, jac.

By the way, talking about washing leather, since posting this I have learned that putting a leather jacket in the washing machine with a mild soap powder does no damage and is done by many jacket collectors. Spoke to one guy who had been doing this for 20 plus years without any harm. Particularly good, he says for goat because it pops out the grain.

Washing them isn't about care, it's about changing the look of the leather to suit the wearer better.

Pecard or lexol to follow is a must.

jac
08-13-2009, 08:05 PM
Do whatever floats your boat, but stay away from my collection!

You won't catch me putting soap or petroleum distillates on hides, but I swear by Obaneuf's.

Real life throws enough crap at me that I'm in no hurry to hasten the inevitable.

JLStorm
08-13-2009, 10:20 PM
Im not a fan of hastening the break in period of any jacket, so I cant comment on the soaking aspect, but I have a question: What made you add the detergent? Ive not heard of that one before.

feltfan
08-13-2009, 10:28 PM
What about dry cleaning? The maker of my older leather jacket
(Johnson Leathers) just recommended that I dry clean my jacket
to get the skin oil out of the collar and other places. I figured I'd
do that and then hit it with some Pecards. Will it damage the leather?

Seb Lucas
08-14-2009, 12:58 AM
Im not a fan of hastening the break in period of any jacket, so I cant comment on the soaking aspect, but I have a question: What made you add the detergent? Ive not heard of that one before.

The detergent helps the water to do it's job - ie it reacts with the leather in a more absorbant way, bringing out the grain. That's what the guy told me. He got this tip from working with a leather jacket maker in the 1990's. Apparently it's done all the time to help break in a jacket.

Detergent doesn't remove many of the oils, as they are, apparently, far too viscous to be shifted by a mild washing liquid. And anyway you use just half a teaspoon.

For me a brand new leather jacket usually looks pretty dreadful - just my view. And that same view, right or wrong, is what's led so many others to wash theirs. It doesn't distress them, it just softens and creases the leather and pops out the grain. Both good things in my book.

Now those people who use sandpaper to age their jackets are just plain sick. lol

Dry cleaning - never heard of that one. ;)

Be interesting to hear from anyone who has had first hand experince of the process going wrong.

aswatland
08-14-2009, 03:14 AM
For me a brand new leather jacket usually looks pretty dreadful - just my view. And that same view, right or wrong, is what's led so many others to wash theirs. It doesn't distress them, it just softens and creases the leather and pops out the grain. Both good things in my book.

Now those people who use sandpaper to age their jackets are just plain sick. lol

Dry cleaning - never heard of that one. ;)

Be interesting to hear from anyone who has had first hand experince of the process going wrong.

I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion about the appearance of jackets. I doubt if young USAAF pilots complained about wearing a new A2. Besides they would break-in quickly through daily wear!

As far as using sanding to age a jacket this is done by people who are not plain sick. John Chapman says this about the process:

For sanding, I've had several ideas. One is to use the green side of a kitchen sponge and lightly go over the wet surface of the jacket, and it will take some of the top finish off on the edges. I did this on the russet Real McCoy's New Zealand Werber A-2 and the results are excellent. I had to add several coats of Peckards conditioner after doing this, which really made it look aged but healthy. Another idea I've tried is sanding with 2000 grit sandpaper which is pretty soft and light. The leather finish will come off just on the edges with this sandpaper. I prefer the sponge technique.

However, perhaps the best way to age a jacket is to wear it regularly.

Seb Lucas
08-14-2009, 04:21 AM
I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion about the appearance of jackets. I doubt if young USAAF pilots complained about wearing a new A2. Besides they would break-in quickly through daily wear!

As far as using sanding to age a jacket this is done by people who are not plain sick. John Chapman says this about the process:

For sanding, I've had several ideas. One is to use the green side of a kitchen sponge and lightly go over the wet surface of the jacket, and it will take some of the top finish off on the edges. I did this on the russet Real McCoy's New Zealand Werber A-2 and the results are excellent. I had to add several coats of Peckards conditioner after doing this, which really made it look aged but healthy. Another idea I've tried is sanding with 2000 grit sandpaper which is pretty soft and light. The leather finish will come off just on the edges with this sandpaper. I prefer the sponge technique.

However, perhaps the best way to age a jacket is to wear it regularly.


:eusa_clap You're right! If a leather jacket is issued to you new in a world where leather is used in place of today's nylon, then why would you make any changes? But these days, leather is expensive and special, so why shouldn't we customise it? :)

gfirob
08-14-2009, 08:52 AM
Well, clearly the most authentic way to age a jacket is to wear it all the time (particularly if you are flying Spitfires regularly) but comparing my new Aero jacket to my 8 year old jacket, the new one is so hard and shiny it looked like Vinyl (to me). I put the new one in the dryer (no heat) for about 8 hours with a bunch of wet towels and it was improved quite a bit, both in the way it looks and the way it feels.

These are very tough jackets and they will take a lot of pounding. I'm sure everybody does not think they look bad in their virginal state, but I think there is just no comparison between a genuinely weathered jacket and a brand new one.

I may try the washing machine gag.

Rob Gardner

HoosierDaddy
08-14-2009, 09:30 AM
May I suggest caution with machine washing a leather jacket. Not only might the leather shrink...but there have been problems with liners and knits taking the bigger hit of deforming in the process. I would rather repeatedly bottle spray only the leather with water for a more relaxed effect..and spot clean the liner if needed. Once machine washed..some of the results may be irreversible.
HD

DC3
08-14-2009, 09:35 AM
From my leather Fedoras to my motorcycle chaps, all have gotten wet at one time or another. Some, like the chaps, I have even had to use the rough side of a kitchen sponge to get the bugs off. None though has seen a washing machine. All my pieces get treated with Obenauf's leather oil when I first get them, and on a regular basis depending on how often I wear it. The end result is that my items are protected from the rain to a good degree, and most times a toweling off and an air dry will do the job. I guess what I'm saying is that to "wash" one of my garments would be to remove the protection I've put on, and into it. So I am sure I would not stuff my garments into a washing machine unless a piece was very heavily soiled with mud or something like that. But thats' just me.
Now, I might "age" raw leather before it was cut and used it to make an item. That seems logical if you cannot find the look you want at the local leather store.
...and now waxing nostalgic.....My bomber jacket has, over the years, acquired a number of marks during the adventures I've been on. It's funny that I can look at that jacket and know how I got most of those dings or scratches and so it provides a bit of history, forever etched into the leather. That's the essence of what we mean when we say "it has character".

jac
08-14-2009, 02:03 PM
Not to gross anyone out, but I don't even like to wash my favorite cotton & denim until they are actually dirty. Washing is essential and necessary for shirts and jeans, but hot water, caustic soaps, and the spinning & rinsing break down materials.

Incidentally, new soldiers were honored and elated to have such solid, protective outerwear- they literally wore them do death, uninterrupted lifetimes included!

I won't use anything but Obaneuf's anymore- and then only when needed.
This is after using everything else.

JLStorm
08-14-2009, 06:17 PM
I think there is just no comparison between a genuinely weathered jacket and a brand new one.

Rob Gardner

I agree with this. I have some jackets that I bought new which are 15 years old that I still wear. Most of these are nothing fancy, just basic jackets, but All the years of marks, break in and wear bring back memories of different places, different women, different feelings. Looking at some of the marks, scratches, and broken in creases, is almost like travelling back in time to a specific event when you remember noticing that it had creased finally, or you remember scratching part of it in haste to get to a certain place...or whatever.

So my question is, if you dont weather the jacket over time and "cheat" by using one of these methods, do you feel less of a history or attachment to the jacket x number of years later?

Seb Lucas
08-14-2009, 08:07 PM
So my question is, if you dont weather the jacket over time and "cheat" by using one of these methods, do you feel less of a history or attachment to the jacket x number of years later?

It doesn't actually put wear on the jacket - that only comes from real life. But it does soften the leather, take some shine away and make it look more grainy. It just stops it looking like vinyl. So it only helps me enjoy the jacket more...

I put my G&B Indy through the washing machine - front loaders only as they are less wearing and don't have an agitator which can rip lining, etc. And it looks great. Sheen has gone, leather is softer and it looks slightly worn in. Still looks new but not vinyl new.

But I realise it's not for everyone.

JLStorm
08-14-2009, 08:38 PM
It doesn't actually put wear on the jacket - that only comes from real life. But it does soften the leather, take some shine away and make it look more grainy. It just stops it looking like vinyl. So it only helps me enjoy the jacket more...

I put my G&B Indy through the washing machine - front loaders only as they are less wearing and don't have an agitator which can rip lining, etc. And it looks great. Sheen has gone, leather is softer and it looks slightly worn in. Still looks new but not vinyl new.

But I realise it's not for everyone.


Oh, ok. I thought that people did this to make the jackets look aged, "vintage", and broken in without doing the work themselves. I guess I got confused.

jac
08-20-2009, 11:18 AM
I never thought of breaking in a fqhh as 'work', but I realize these aren't for everyone.

If horsehide is too demanding, you can save yourself several hundreds of dollars by getting something from the mall or even a nice soft sweater from grandma.

Most old folks would be very grateful for the extra bucks in today's economy and you'd be supporting local artisans!

Mark P
08-20-2009, 01:24 PM
You might be interested in my experiments in ageing leather at:

http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?t=33465&highlight=how+to+break+in+horsehide+quickly

Seb Lucas
08-22-2009, 01:05 AM
I never thought of breaking in a fqhh as 'work', but I realize these aren't for everyone.

If horsehide is too demanding, you can save yourself several hundreds of dollars by getting something from the mall or even a nice soft sweater from grandma.

Most old folks would be very grateful for the extra bucks in today's economy and you'd be supporting local artisans!

"demanding", "soft sweater from grandma"... Poor yourself a drink, son. Sounds like you need cheering up.

aswatland
08-22-2009, 01:15 AM
"demanding", "soft sweater from grandma"... Poor yourself a drink, son. Sounds like you need cheering up.


Are you sure Jac wasn't just having a bit of fun? I think he was joking!lol

Seb Lucas
08-22-2009, 01:20 AM
Are you sure Jac wasn't just having a bit of fun? I think he was joking!lol
I thought he was joking too. And so was I.lol Mind you, from the start of this thread Jac seemed a little truculent (in a fun way). Maybe he's bought one too many bad mall jackets.

jac
08-22-2009, 08:59 AM
No kids, I'm quite serious, sober, and old enough to be your mother.

aswatland
08-22-2009, 09:18 AM
No kids, I'm quite serious, sober, and old enough to be your mother.

Good one! lol lol

aswatland
08-22-2009, 09:22 AM
No kids, I'm quite serious, sober, and old enough to be your mother.

Wow really! You must be quite an age then? I like your sense of humour.lol

jac
08-22-2009, 10:47 AM
No joke.
I don't go to malls either.

You really don't get it.

aswatland
08-22-2009, 12:00 PM
No joke.
I don't go to malls either.

You really don't get it.

Let's get back to the topic.;)

Seb Lucas
08-24-2009, 12:41 AM
From all I've read (on this and other jacket sites), washing leather jackets is a standard procedure for breaking in but not distressing. But I'm sure there must be some cases where it has gone wrong. I have now washed 5 jackets and they have all come out better than they looked before. Sorry, no pics. I guess those who are upset by washing jackets just shouldn't do it as I'm sure they won't.

Spitfire
08-24-2009, 01:17 AM
My horsehide A2 certainly got a lot softer and looked much "older" after I accidently went swimming in a swedish river wearing it.:)

celtic
08-24-2009, 08:38 AM
If you're wearing it for protection on a motorcycle, I'd advise against it because leather loses its abrasian resistance and becomes dry after soaking and drying multiple times. Of course if you condition it every time it gets soaked through, you'll obviously remedy this mostly.

However, if your coat is simply for fashion rather than protection from a crash, I wouldn't worry about it.

Seb Lucas
08-24-2009, 02:27 PM
If you're wearing it for protection on a motorcycle, I'd advise against it because leather loses its abrasian resistance and becomes dry after soaking and drying multiple times. Of course if you condition it every time it gets soaked through, you'll obviously remedy this mostly.

However, if your coat is simply for fashion rather than protection from a crash, I wouldn't worry about it.


I would only ever wash a jacket once, so I don't think it would screw with the abrasion qualities. I have never ridden a bike...

NABodie
10-08-2013, 08:46 AM
So then if washing a leather jacket does it no harm, soaking a dry jacket should also do no harm as long as it is air dried and conditioned afterwards? Correct?

I just received a G1 from 1970 that the leather is dry as a bone. I have sprayed it down with Lexol and while the outside is much better if I pinch a section I can tell the leather under the liner is still very dry. Would it harm anything to soak it to re-hydrate the leather and then condition it?

armscye
10-10-2013, 01:31 PM
I don't have the hypothetical or hearsay knowledge of the usual experts here. But I have washed 30 jackets, and documented the process on this Board with dozens of illustrations. These have included pieces ranging from mall pigskin to Vanson 4 oz horsehide. Ruined thus far: None, as in zero.

andy b.
10-11-2013, 04:45 AM
There are a bunch of "leather jacket washing" threads on the Lounge, so I figure this one is as good as any to ask my question.

I bought a used leather jacket and would like to clean it. I'm sure many would say to send it to the local leather cleaners. First, I don't know of any leather specialty cleaners in my area. Second, I have had several non-leather jackets cleaned over the years by the "professionals", and 100% of the time they have either shrunk the jackets, or they have been returned with stitching pulling out or other damage. I am done with the "professionals".

All I want to do is clean the jacket, not shrink it. If I use cold water on a gentle cycle in a front-loading washer (no central agitator), and only air-dry the jacket afterwards, should I have basically zero shrinkage? I wasn't planning on using any detergent, but I have plenty of the "free"-type of detergents (my son has a skin allergy to any fragrances or heavy chemicals in most detergents). If I should use some, I have no problem doing so.

So have any of you washed a leather jacket just to clean it and not alter the size? Were you successful in your endeavor?

Andy B.

armscye
10-11-2013, 06:49 AM
http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?71541-One-man-s-system-machine-washing-and-conditioning-vintage-jackets&highlight=one+man%27s+guide

Wash in cold, air dry, and you'll see essentially zero shrinkage. In fact it's possible to lengthen the sleeves by weighting them.

andy b.
10-11-2013, 09:12 AM
THAT was the thread I was trying to find again!
Thanks, armscye!
I think I'll pick up some of that Woolite and have a go at it.

Andy B.

Phantomfixer
10-11-2013, 10:18 AM
I have washed my FS A-2 several times..no harm no foul....it wouldnt shrink even washing it and leaving it in the hot summer sun for a week....but I wont even go out in heavy rain in my ELC warhorse...afraid it will run like the horse it was made out of, I had to redye several areas after getting water on it...
my point? guess it all depends on the hide and how it was finished...good luck

andy b.
10-15-2013, 06:26 PM
Well, I just tossed an old Schott cafe racer in brown cowhide into a cold-water wash with some Woolite. I believe it is a 141 from around the late 1980s. We'll see what happens. Man, I hope it doesn't shrink. The sizing is pretty d@mn good as it is. I just want to clean it.

Andy B.

Peacoat
10-15-2013, 07:01 PM
Let us know, Andy. I am interested in what happens. I have a Schott Cafe Racer in naked cowhide that got a little wet in the rain once. The sleeves shrank almost an inch. Sleeves were a good length before. Now, getting a little short. I think it may have been the naked part of the cowhide. With no finish to repel the rain, it soaked in more than it would have with a finish on the hide. At least that is my theory.

andy b.
10-17-2013, 07:02 PM
I know, you guys think I didn't reply back because I ruined the jacket. :D

I used the gentle cycle, and the gentle spin, so the jacket did come out fairly damp, but with no apparent damage. It felt like cold wet leather.

Then I tossed it into the dryer with a bedspread that was already dry, and the towels and other items that were in the wash with the jacket. I put it on the lowest heat setting and pulled the jacket out after about 15 minutes. All I wanted to do was warm it up a little to help the water start evaporating. The jacket came out a little above room temperature, but definitely not hot.

Next I wore it around the house for about 1/2 hour. I had on a t-shirt that started to get a little damp, plus it was then time for bed, so I wrapped a dry towel around one of those hangers with the wide shoulders to make extra sure the shoulders didn't get deformed, and to help dry the lining, and hung the jacket in a doorway near my kitchen so it would get a little airflow from a ceiling fan I had running. I pulled a little along the waist to make sure the leather was flat, and also pulled it tight across the chest and back, and then pulled the sleeves straight. I wanted to be sure to try and eliminate as much as possible any chance of the jacket shrinking.

I went to bed thinking I would need to throw the jacket in the dryer for a few minutes in the morning to help with the drying, but when I checked it as I was getting ready for work the leather was about dry, and the lining was almost completely dry.

I figured what the heck and wore the jacket to work. I could feel the jacket was a little stiffer after drying, which I was expecting, but it wasn't like it was as dry and stiff as cardboard, it just felt like it needed to be broken in a little again. By the time I got back home after work the jacket was dry The next thing I did was give the entire jacket a coat of Obenauf's LP. I use Obenauf's on all of my leather items; shoes, boots, jackets, gloves, belts, chair seats, etc. I have tried many other leather products in the past, and Obenauf's seems to have the best results.

I worked the Obenauf's in by hand with my fingers, so the warmth from your hands melts it a little and helps it soak in. Then I let it soak in overnight, and this morning I lightly buffed the jacket with an old t-shirt, and wore it to work again. Now the jacket is almost as soft as broken-in elkhide, and has a rich brown color.

One warning about Obenauf's is that it WILL darken leather. As the Obenauf's continues to soak in and dry a little, the leather will usually lighten back up to its original color, but it will sometimes take a few months. If you have a light or medium-colored leather item and would be royally peeved if it darkened a shade, I might avoid Obenauf's. The leather usually lightens back up over time, but I don't want anyone complaining to me if after six months your light tan leather jacket is still medium brown.

As far as I can tell, all the cold water washing did was clean the jacket. I can't see any negatives, and I am proud to say there was zero shrinkage! Would I toss a brand new $700 jacket in the washer to break it in faster? No, I'd be scared. :eek: Besides, after looking at this 25-year-old jacket, I don't see how washing a new one would get you any closer to that lovely old patina than just wearing the jacket for 25 years.

So, now for the downside. I was in such a rush to see what happens when washing a leather jacket, that I forgot to take a before pic when the jacket first arrived at my house. When I was applying the Obenauf's I started at the left side by the zipper and worked my way around the jacket to the right side. My hands were covered in Obenauf's and I didn't grab a photo to show the difference between the treated side and untreated side. Oh well. Anyway, here is what the jacket looks like now:

5264

5265

I am very happy with it.

Andy B.

davyjones007
10-17-2013, 07:21 PM
Jacket looks good. To bad about not having the before pics.

andy b.
10-17-2013, 08:44 PM
Honestly, the jacket was in great condition. About the only difference was the before pics the leather might have been a little duller. In fact, my wife HATES the thought of wearing used clothes or jackets. I let her try the jacket on and it fit her well (yes, I know this was a mistake). I told her I was going to try washing it and she said I was dumb to ruin such a nice jacket and she would wear it as-is. There were no smells or stains, it was just the thought of it being 25 years old and probably never cleaned. So you're really not missing anything in the before photo. The half-oiled pic is the one I should have taken. Oh well. If I wash another one I will be sure to document the process because I don't have any worries now about it working.

Andy B.

winterland1
10-17-2013, 10:06 PM
Honestly, the jacket was in great condition. About the only difference was the before pics the leather might have been a little duller. In fact, my wife HATES the thought of wearing used clothes or jackets. I let her try the jacket on and it fit her well (yes, I know this was a mistake). I told her I was going to try washing it and she said I was dumb to ruin such a nice jacket and she would wear it as-is. There were no smells or stains, it was just the thought of it being 25 years old and probably never cleaned. So you're really not missing anything in the before photo. The half-oiled pic is the one I should have taken. Oh well. If I wash another one I will be sure to document the process because I don't have any worries now about it working.

Andy B.

Thanks for posting your experience.
What kind of soap did you use? Warm or cold water?

andy b.
10-18-2013, 03:42 AM
Thanks for posting your experience.
What kind of soap did you use? Warm or cold water?

I used Woolite Dark. I have the normal Woolite already, but the Dark stuff stated it would keep dark colored clothes looking dark. I have no idea if the regular Woolite has any sort of bleaching chemical (it states it does not contain bleach), but I figured a dark brown jacket should be safe with the Woolite Dark. I used cold water for the entire washing process and the gentle cycle on gentle spin.

I used a little less detergent than recommended. But then again, I generally use less detergent than the label recommends because our front-loading washing machine seems to get things really clean, and we have a septic system so I try to use as little chemicals as possible for anything, not just washing clothes.

Andy B.

andyfalzon
10-18-2013, 04:21 AM
There is no definite answer to this question as it depends on the tanning process of the leather. Tanners have methods to make leathers sustain washing but they do not apply them unless the customer asks. Leathers suitable for garments have been treated accordingly so to "survive" a rain but that's just about it.

Worf
10-18-2013, 06:30 AM
Andy b. Thanks loads man. I feel much better now.

Worf