Thursday, May 31, 2012

Can you REALLY machine wash leather???

From my recent experience, I'd say YES!*

A couple of months ago, I sold a gorgeous suede skirt through my store and the buyer sent me an email letting me know that, because she is allergic to perfumes, she washes EVERYTHING even her suede and leather skirts.  WHAT?  How can that be?  Everyone knows that you have to go the dry cleaner to get those skins cleaned!

Well, Kris (the buyer) was kind enough to elaborate on how she launders her leather.

     I always just use Murphy's Oil Soap.  If you haven't used it before, you can usually find it at 
     Walmart and at hardware stores.  Some grocery stores carry it.  My skirt is in the washer 
     right now.   I just use a couple of tablespoons or so.  Then I throw most things in the dryer and 
     iron them if necessary.


I couldn't believe it could be that easy, but really wanted to give it a try.  I have 3 Coach purses that have absolutely taken a beating and looked pretty bad.  Spots, coffee spills, and a stain of unknown origin on the smallest one that was actually thrifted.  I had tried everything,  leather cleaner, polish and they still looked REALLY bad.  Furthermore,  NOTHING could take that spot out of the the small Coach satchel.  

Having nothing to lose, my purses being unusable,  I started with my bright pink leather Coach purse.  I figured I couldn't make the bag look worse than it already did.  (I want to insert here that the older Coach handbags hold up much nicer than the newer ones, in my opinion.    I even purchased the Coach leather cleaner and it didn't help my pink bag that I purchased new for almost $300!)


The Experiment 

I put about 1/4 cup of Murphy's Oil Soap into the washing machine and put it on the gentle cycle.  I closed my eyes, clinched my teeth and dropped in the purse!   I was so surprised when I took it out and it looked fine, even BETTER with it still being wet.  The real test was yet to come.  The dryer.    I loaded up the dryer with a few towels and jeans to buffer the purse while it was being tossed around and set the dryer on the most delicate setting.  I decided to dry it just long enough for the inside fabric lining to dry.

I took it out while the leather was still damp and hung the bag on the back of a chair.  It air dried the rest of the way.

I can't tell you my surprise when I took the purse out and not only was it unharmed, but what an improvement!!!  So then I decided to do the next two together since they're both brown.



This brown Coach bag was already pretty worn when I received it as a very generous hand me down from a friend.  And that's cool, because in my opinion, good leather just gets better the more it's used. But it's the stains, water spots and fading that I just can't deal with.



This is the one I thrifted and can you see that?  Big greasy stain is nowhere to be seen!

The Final Step

My husband made a suggestion that turned out to be the crowning touch to the whole experiment.  He suggested that I saturate the bags in furniture polish (I always use furniture polish to clean a leather chair and ottoman that we have in our living room), and let it soak in.  Again, I was a bit apprehensive expecting all kinds of spots, but I covered the entire bag with the polish, rubbed in as much as I could and let just let it all soak in.

Worked like a charm!  Now it feels like I have 3 new bags!!  I have yet to try this with my suede and leather skirts, but I have a small suede skirt that I thrifted just for the leather to use in a project.  I'm thinking this will be my experimental skirt.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

Simple Instructions
  1. Totally clean out contents of your bag
  2. Set washer to gentle cycle, pour in about 1/4 cup of Murphy's Oil Soap (amount depends on size of bag).
  3. Drop bag in, close lid and go have a drink to calm your nerves!
  4. When washing is completed, remove bag and place in dryer along with a few other fluffy items that you don't have to worry about any fading.
  5. Set dryer to the gentlest setting and keep checking about every 10 minutes, JUST until the fabric lining dries.  If there's no lining, just eye ball your bag and take it out when the leather is still damp but not soaked.
  6. Reshape if needed and hang to dry.
  7. When your bag is completely dry, spray the entire bag with a good furniture polish (Pledge?) and  gently rub in all over.  
  8. Once again, hang to dry to allow the polish to set in.
  9. ENJOY!
*Disclaimer:  This worked for me, but I can't guarantee these results for everyone who may try this.  Please launder your leather at your own risk.  Start out with something that is pretty much unusable to begin with. 

And speaking of leather, I've got some leather goodies in my store right now!  Be sure to check out the leather cross body bag that I just found!  It's like BUDDAH!




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46 comments:

  1. Serene! This is great news...and I have never heard it before! So good to know. Now I am anxious to give it a try! Thanks for sharing your knowledge...that Coach purse is beautiful! Also, thanks for your encouragement...you are the best!

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    1. Thanks Pam! You should give it a shot! It was great texting with you today!! You encouraged me and I've already gone out and walked for an hour!

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    2. Nice and informative information shared by your blog on Leather Bags for Women. I really appreciate it.
      Leather Bags for Women

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  2. I've washed a leather jacket now and one Hobo bag. I did the leather jacket in the washing machine with homemade laundry soap and it turned out fine. It did shrink a little in length which I had read might happen which was fine because the sleeves were too long anyway. The leather was really soft and nice when it was finished. The Hobo pebbled leather bag had a huge ink stain on the inside when I thrifted it. I washed it in the kitchen sink with the same homemade laundry soap and then just laid it out to dry - shifting its position every few hours so that it could dry out on all sides. It really turned out nice. I think the key is - like you said - it may not turn out. So say goodbye as you dunk it and then hope for the best!

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    Replies
    1. Kitty, thanks for this! I was so surprised to hear of anyone actually washing leather. I feel like possibilities are endless now!

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  3. Wow! Thanks for this info! I'm always tossing things away because of stain and such...
    I'll definitely try this before throwing it away next time!

    Jeannie

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  4. (channeling Stacey London) -- Shut UP!!!! I cannot believe this. Who knew? Thanks for the information, you rebel!

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  5. This is amazing information! I will have to try it with a few leather items that are in bad shape. Thanks for the tips!

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  6. Wow! Thanks for sharing this tip! I had read about that soap but I had my doubts so I never tried it, can you imagine what we can do with this soap and thrifted goods??? I can't wait to try it!

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  7. My really good leather washes just fine, but I have wrecked a few of the less expensive pieces. I never wash suede unless I am sure I won't mind if I destroy it. But older Coach and Dooney and Burke are just fine. Thanks for such a through explaination. Those pictures should convince anyone.

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  8. I've never heard about washing leather, but i'd love to try it. I have my mum's clutch which saw better days, so I'd love to give washing a try. I think i'll ask a friend to bring me this soap when he's gonna be in USA again))

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  9. Totally awesome. I wish you would have shown a before so I could see the improvement. Love the idea of furniture polish too. Thank you for the great tips!

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  10. I currently own nothing leather but i certainly will remember these tips!! i'm always looking for vintage purses but pass many up because they are grungy--now i'll give them a try!

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  11. Wow1 that's amazing! I must try it!
    thanks, Serene!
    xXx
    Reva

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  12. I'm going to have to bookmark this post, Serene. Almost too good to be true, but your examples are living proof. Thanks!

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  13. Genius ideas... both you and your husband! Love the two brown leather bags.... :-))

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  14. Serene--this is invaluable information! Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thanks to your customer!

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  15. Drat! The one time I have wanted to pin something from a fashion blog, and I don't know how without the Pintrest button!

    Thanks for posting this, I never would have dreamed of this method

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  16. You could say say that I am a cheap hermes handbags addict, and I feel the designer handbag, no matter what the price tag, louis vuitton outlet online is an investment in your personal style, and omega watches for sale is not a waste of money, as long as you can afford it, of course.

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  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  18. I doubt that you can wash machine leather purse, according to this advices: How to clean leather purses

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    1. I have had great success washing mine! However, if you're not comfortable giving it a try, I wouldn't risk it! I started with purses that were going to be no good to me if they weren't cleaned AND I'm not prepared to spend half the price of the bag trying to clean it!!

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  19. Came across your post as I was looking for some help on cleaning a leather skirt. Thanks so much for your tip!

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  20. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful.

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  22. Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I'm impressed! Very useful info particularly the last part :) I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

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  23. So I came across your website last night just by accident and first thing this morning, I grabbed a bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap and my grungy Sperrys. I had previously washed them but accidentally damaged them using bleach in the wash (was trying to kill bacteria...killed the finish instead).

    The oil soap wash was a success, so I grabbed an orange soft leather Lucky Brand hobo that had grime on it, crossed my fingers, and dropped it in a new wash. Holy moly, it looks fantastical!!! The orange dye washed out a bit and toned down the color to a nice subtle burnt orange and it's nice and clean. I dried it a few minutes and now it's hanging to dry. Success!!! Thank you!!!

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    Replies
    1. Brooke! Yay!!! I'm so glad it worked well for you! I was shocked at how easy it was to wash leather!! who knew?!

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  24. I came across this while looking for a way to clean my kathy van Zeeland purse. It's leather and cloth. I'm not sure what kind of cloth or material that is. The handles/straps and the top and bottom of the purse are a aqua or teal color not light light but not dark either and are stiff leather. The rest of the body is a super soft silky cloth like pink purple and white. I paid over 100 bucks for it new and was my favorite purse. I made the mistake of loaning it to a friend and when I got it back the outside isn't that bad just has 1 small spot stain but the whole bag has a odd odor and the inside looks like it has spilt coca cola on the sides inside and 2 different spots look like melted candy gunk. I'm still trying to figure out if your method would work or if I need to try another route. Any ideas?

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    ReplyDelete
  26. This is a true revelation. I have some skins to sew into a garment but was wondering if it would be worth the dry cleaning costs to maintain it Wow, I am linking to your amazing post so more sewists can know how this works.

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  28. IT WORKED!!! And on a veryveryveryvery expensive vegetable dyed custom ordered Italian handbag that had oil and other mystery stains all over the bottom. I thought it was a total loss, leather guy said he'd damage it further if he even tried to clean it, had it hanging in my closet for 6 months and considered just giving it away to avoid wincing every time I saw it. Just used the MOS in the washing machine, and it is AS. GOOD. AS. NEW. No stains I can't believe it!! Grazie, Serene!!

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  29. Does anyone have any tips on washing suede or has tried this method on suede? I have a gorgeous (and expensive) bag that's taken quite a beating, but I would be so heart broken if I ruined it. :(

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    Replies
    1. Hi James! I've washed my suede skirts and they've done beautifully!! Good luck!!

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  30. school bags manufacturers should manufacture genuine quality products.They should also focus on the durability and costing of these bags.

    The quality of these nylon bags which is delivered by nylon bags manufacturer should be up to mark and test before to reach of customers

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have washed suede skirts, pants and jackets in the machine for almost 20 years. They may slightly shrink and fade, but they turned out very well. My trick is to put them in the dryer at warm with a few tennis balls, so the suede remains soft and not stiff.

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  32. Excellent post! I must thank you for this informative read. I hope you will post again soon.Dry Cleaning Machine Manufacturers

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  33. Excellent post! I must thank you for this informative read. I hope you will post again soon.Dry Cleaning Machine Manufacturers

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  34. Just amazing!!!!! These designs are specific and i am such a lot enamored withe these coach handbags. i do not know why but I'm having imagination of various cartoon characters in these bags and i am such a lot liking it. I'm always probing for new design bags, I'm so glad that I've found your post. Thanks for sharing.

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  35. My old backpack went around the world with me, including a 3 week trek around Annapurna in Nepal. The nylon bits were filthy, but I had hesitated to wash it because the bottom is leather (yeah, they made 'em robust back when). I researched and came across your blog here. Interestingly I had just gone thru the house using Murphy's Oil Soap on all the wood interior doors, furnature, cabinets, etc.(don't buy the spray; it's diluted. Get the concentrated stuff in a big bottle cheap at Home Depot.) I tried your method and it worked amazingly well !!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE HELP !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Bob! I just saw you comment! I'm thrilled your backpack came out so well! That is FABULOUS!! I have salvaged many a bag AND gotten some great bags for a steal because they were so dirty, only to bring them home and breathe life back into them! All the best to you!! Thanks for letting me know how this worked for you! Serene

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  36. Leather bag is very beautiful. I want to have a vintage-style leather bag like that. Thanks for sharing an interesting post.
    Tas Kulit Pria

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Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! ~Serene