Washing my old cowhide jacket

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by handymike, Sep 15, 2020 at 11:53 PM.

  1. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    Help please...I don’t want to f*** this up!
    If I soak my jacket in the tub with cold water and Woolite Dark, will it be ok? What about the satin (?) liner. I know drying is the part I need to be concerned about, but I plan on leaving it in the tub on a towel. I know I should keep it out of the sun, but are there any other pointers? I don’t want this one ruined or crunchy at the finish.
    Thanks!
     
  2. Monitor

    Monitor

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    Detergent removes oils and grease from clothes so it will do the same to leather.

    Why not just get one of those leather cleaner concoctions by Lexol or someone and clean the jacket with that?
     
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  3. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    detergent will suck up the oil, if you must wash the lining, then perhaps turn the jacket inside out pull the lining out as far as possible from the jacket leather shell, and dip it in mild soap like non conditioner shampoo from a bucket, ruffle a little, and rinse, probably liner on the back and armpit need more washing than the rest of the jacket.

    or "dry clean" the liner with foam spray that is usually for cleaning car seat or sofa.
     
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  4. ton312

    ton312

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    We talking the Bates? I had a Bates thrown at the foot of my porch maybe 10 years ago and when I got home from work that day and picked up the box the jacket fell right through the bottom. Fully soaked to the core. Took about a week to dry (it was December) so I hung it in the basement with the dehumidifier. This was the result. No conditioner applied. Sold for a profit a few months later, moral of the story....you can’t hurt it.
    06C206C0-9854-4EED-8F63-BEA35DDEDDDD.jpeg
     
  5. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    That’s what I needed to hear! :)
    I am quite confident about Horween Cxl and goat, but wasn’t sure on the Bates.
     
  6. ton312

    ton312

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    I was furious when I got home that day. The seller didn’t bother with a garbage bag or anything inside the box. 8” of wet melting snow for a good 8 hours. A wet Bates will tip the scales at about 25 lbs. I used a towel to dry off the excess moisture and hung it directly above my dehumidifier in the basement (it benefited from the neutral air exhaust out the top). Just to be clear this isn’t something I would do voluntarily, but the jacket was no worse for the wear after it (finally) fully dried.
     
  7. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    Didn’t @Carlos840 soak a jacket? I remember someone did and the water was all yellow/ brown.
     
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  8. ton312

    ton312

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    Gamma and Carlos if memory serves.
     
  9. Kubatu

    Kubatu New in Town

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    Here is an older post on the subject. The thread itself has lots of helpful information on machine washing jackets, particularly Armscye's comments (Who also wrote this).

    Also, I should add that if you're washing the Bates to get rid of the odor, I'm sorry for not going into more details about that in my listing. It was very strong when I first got the jacket, but I thought I had managed to get it to a tolerable level with some light vinegar-water spraying and airdrying. Should have mentioned that either way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 3:34 AM
  10. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    No worries, the jacket is super-cool. :)
     
  11. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    Mike, I have often described how I put jackets in my washer with detergent and run a cycle through. Front loaders are best as there is no agitator to tear at the lining. I have never had a problem. But you should dry in the shade. It can take a few days to dry. I have washed cow, goat, sheep, steer, horse. Let's face it, if you can wash a Harrington jacket why not a leather jacket?
     
  12. jonesy86

    jonesy86 My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I picked up a Brooks off the bay that was pretty dirty. I gently washed It in the tub with just a bit of laundry detergent, laid it flat over a dying rack. After a few days gave it a nice coat of Pecards. It came out fine.
     
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  13. Downunder G Man

    Downunder G Man Practically Family

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    Cold machine wash with Eucalyptus woolwash. 2 cool rinses NO SPIN. Jacket on big bath towel in bath overnight.

    Ton is correct , they weigh about 25 pounds when first lifted out the machine. We have a top loader but no agitator.

    Next day on a GOOD hanger ( eg Schott or HD jacket hanger) , outside in the shade. maybe 2 days.

    NO direct sun. Inside out for a portion of time. RM Williams leather conditioner to finish ( "like" Pecards but Aussie !)

    I have done several ebay buys out of the US and Europe to rid the "vintage bouquet"/ damp storage whiff.

    All have come thru' splendidly. Care is the name of the game !
     
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  14. Monitor

    Monitor

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    All good advice above but for me, spin is essential 'cause otherwise you'll have to wait for days for it to dry out and that way fungi and mold will have plenty of time to set in & start their colonies. Getting as much water as possible out before leaving the jacket to dry is important.
    If using a washing machine, wrap a jacket with a towel or something.

    I think it's a pretty safe thing to do and what I've said before, nothing we can think of doing to the jacket is as bad as what the leather had to go thru during the tanning process so yeah, as long as you don't go crazy on chemicals but the jacket will come out different, you gotta know that. In what way, it's hard to predict but it'll happen.
     
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  15. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    I usually hang the dripping wet jacket over a wide shoulder hanger, and hang it on door handle or towel drying rack, and I place a standing fan right infront of it blowing maximum speed onto the front opening of the jacket until the jacket is balloning with air, and water dripping out fast by the hem and sleeve opening, left it one day like that, the next morning it is usually damp enough for wear to dry moulding.
     
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  16. Carlos840

    Carlos840 My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    I would not use woolite, it's made for wool, not leather...
    I have always done it this way:

    5" or so of lukewarm water in the tub, add a dash of Lexol leather cleaner, drop the jacket in, let soak for a few minutes, then go over the jacket with a soft scrub sponge (the ones to clean Teflon coated pans).

    [​IMG]

    If the jacket is very juicy, drain the water and repeat as many times as needed. Rinse well with clean water.
    Once clean i lay a drying rack in the tub, lay an old towel on it and then the jacket on top of it:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If you don't use a towel in between the rack and the leather you will end up with rack impressions in the leather (i did that on my first try...)

    After around 5 days the jacket should be 90% dry, it should feel dry to the touch but still a bit humid inside.
    Once it reaches that point i give it a thin coat of Pecard's, shape the collars and lapels and then finish drying on a wide coat hanger outside.
    If needed i add one or two more coats, leaving a couple days in between coats.
    I like to apply the first one on a slightly damp jacket so the leather doesn't have time to dry fully and go hard.

    Since doing all this i have washed a couple jackets in a front loading washing machine and i have to say nothing bad happened...
    I would now reserve the tub method for a rare/old/ wool lined jacket, but otherwise i would just put them in the washing machine on wool cycle, it does the job just as well.

    Good luck.

    Edit: some people mention hanging it straight away when wet, i would not do that, the jackets are SO HEAVY when soaked i would be afraid to stretch the shoulders or damage seams...
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 12:40 PM
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  17. navetsea

    navetsea I'll Lock Up

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    when wet my jacket get longer a little around the hem, the back saggier a bit, but once dry it was back to normal. Carlos method is obviously more safe, I just hang mine directly from dripping wet on a wooden coat hanger with wide shoulder, I like the contour of the wooden hanger and don't mind if the jacket would mould to it, alas it didn't happen, shoulder seam kept its shape, however all mine has simple light cotton lining and the jacket is small size probably 34- 36 , I imagine bigger jacket with thick liner would be much heavier
     
  18. Will Zach

    Will Zach Practically Family

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    If the lining is in good shape, I absolutely, always wash my vintage purchases in a bathtub of warm water with lots of mild detergent. Agitate gently with hands. You would not believe how much dark crap comes out of them. Dry them lying flat with towels underneath and inside - no problem. They are rather stiff after drying - need to use Pecards or Obenaufs afterwards. Never had a problem, and, frankly, I do not understand the apprehension of some. You need to get 60 years worth of sweat salt and grime out of them somehow. I do not believe leather cleaners work in those cases. Warm wash does.
     
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  19. Monitor

    Monitor

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    Regardless of how the jacket comes out of the bathtub, I'm 100% convinced the method shaves a couple of years off its lifespan. Try washing thin, light leather jacket. The water will have significant effect on it. It's less pronounced on heavy jackets but something happens to it, especially if not done correctly. I've cooked a Walter Dyer jacket and it came out fine, only smaller but it was a lot stiffer afterwards. And even thicker.

    I don't know. I've washed a number of jackets (and leather sneakers for that matter) and they all came out fine but... Different.

    Anyway, it's best you lay it on a flat, smooth surface after the wash after the wash, if you don't intend to use the washing machine spin cycle to knock water outta it. I too have left one on a drying rack for the night and it got impressions of the ribs, as @Carlos840 stated happened on his jacket. Ever since then, I hang it over a chair or just leave it on the floor. Another jacket I left in the washing machine for the night also got permanent impressions of those holes that are in the drum. Couldn't get them out no matter what. Eventually I threw the jacket away.
     
  20. handymike

    handymike I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks everyone!
     

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