Cleaning/restoring shearling coat

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by EggHead, Nov 24, 2013.

  1. EggHead

    EggHead Practically Family

    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    I happened to have found 3 shearling coats in my garage that my late in-laws have purchased about 40 years ago in Argentina. They have varying degrees of *damage*, but the coats are made well and it would be a shame to throw them out. One coat (worst case) has mold on the outside (non-shearling side), another is just plain soily and dirty, and third is in pretty good condition except that it smells kind of musty or maybe it's a moldy smell. Actually all three have that smell with the moldy one the strongest. Well, I decided to clean them and have read a lot about leather cleaning here and elsewhere and there is some info on shearling cleaning too, mostly rugs or baby trows, although not too much and I just wanted to get your opinion on this.
    First off, "professional" cleaning will not be my choice since I have heard that chances of them ruining the shearling coat are 50/50. So I decided to try ruining, I mean cleaning it myself.

    Here is what I plan to do based on what I have read on the web, please add or correct me!!

    Here is my understanding of cleaning leather -
    1. Before washing, remove as much mold with brush outside of your home
    2. Use sun to get rid of some mold or some smell, although I have doubts on how much that helps because sun can't possibly reach all areas of the jacket.
    3. Use front loading washer, cold water and gentle cycle that will minimize wear and tear, and cold water will prevent leather from shrinking.
    4 Use non-animal based soap that also has plant oils which will get absorbed by leather during wash cycle and also has tea tree oil that will disinfect and help remove mold and moldy smell. Soaps that were recommended are Dr. Bronner's Magic soap and Kookaburra Wash. I think I can get Dr. Bronner's at a local store here.
    5. When washing is done, wet coat will be 3 times heavier so lift it up carefully by the bottom, again gentle handling is key.
    6. Hang to dry on sturdy hanger.
    7. Not sure on this step - According to others, wet leather when drying will stiffen up. Does using soap with oil help it from stiffening up or do I need to flex the coat as it dries to prevent stiffening?
    8. 24 hours later, turn coat inside out to dry the other non-shearling side.

    The coats outside is suede.

    I have an old leather jacket that will be my guinea pig and see how that turns out. If all goes well, I will try out the moldy coat, then others.

    Cheers!
     
  2. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,427
    Location:
    Sheffield UK
    armscye's advice on mould is excellent I've used his advice and it works - see above or follow this link

    http://www.thefedoralounge.com/showthread.php?71364-Mould

    But dont lexol a shearling coat - find a different way of conditioning the suede I've used a splash of olive oil in the fabric conditioner section of the washing machine but as with all advice -research it then take it or leave it -your risk
    Cheers
    Rob
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  3. EggHead

    EggHead Practically Family

    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    Done with step 1. Took a hair brush with boars bristles (got it at Wallgreen's sometime ago). Brushed vigorously the outside that had mold. Mold came out without any problems, also brushed inside shearling. Left hanging outside. There was some sun, but it's November, only had 2-3 hours before shadows set in. When it got cooler took all 3 coats inside and vacuumed one of them thinking that it may help with the smell - that didn't help. So the result, the moldy one looks pretty good and less smelly. The dirty one is still dirty and the better one still has the smell even after vacuuming it.

    Also got some Dr. Bronner's soap with Tea tree oil and washed the old leather jacket (guinea pig sample). That came out OK out of the washer - same size, but still drying it on a hanger. Will see how it comes out tomorrow evening. Flexing it every 3-6 hours so that it does not stiffen up. So far I think drying leather is the most challenging part.
     
  4. Dumpster Diver

    Dumpster Diver Practically Family

    Messages:
    886
    Location:
    Ontario
    Mould Is nothing to take lightly, Keep the Jacket Dry in the summer himidity, Ive had problems with mould and its a real ongoing ordeal.
     
  5. EggHead

    EggHead Practically Family

    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    The guinea pig jacket has dried. It took about 40 hours. It is cleaner now, but not all spots were removed. The leather feels a bit softer and there was no damage or shrinkage that I can see. I will apply a mixture of oil/lemon juice to soften it up more maybe bring out a bit of shine. Don't want to use Lexol. It's cow, so somewhat different from sheep shearling.

    As far as the shearling coats, I will wait for warmer/sunnier weather to try the wash. I think it will take longer to dry. Also, I am still worried about the suede becoming stiffer after the wash, not sure how to soften it afterwards.

    The good, but smelly coat - I stuffed/covered it with newspaper and hung it in a dry room, perhaps that will remove some of the smell.
     
  6. Highwaymanman

    Highwaymanman A-List Customer

    Messages:
    360
    Location:
    Nowhere
    I would not dry a wet leather jacket on a hanger at all. I'd probably dry it flat on a fold out clothes horse with a flat wire top.
     
  7. EggHead

    EggHead Practically Family

    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    San Francisco, CA
    To be precise, I alternated when drying. Hanger, flat on stool, dryer (no heat, air only for tumbling).
    With shearling, I would definitely be more careful, cause it's heaver when wet.
    I can see the heavy wet material pulling down and stretching.
     

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