Washing Leather-Trimmed Breeches
Anna Carner Blangiforti
President and Founder, Leather Therapy Products
NJIn Victorian times, coachmen and grooms wore buckskin or doeskin
breeches that were kept white by the application of pastes and chalks.
When the whole thing just got too messy, the thin leather was carefully
hand washed. Then the breeches were stretched back into shape to
dry on specially constructed breeches trees.
for breeches didnt get much easier when someone thought of
stitching leather patches onto woolen breeches. Now there were two
different materials to keep clean, each with its own persnickety
care requirements. Modern leather finishing processes and synthetic
fabrics have made cleaning breeches easier than it was in the
old days. But not by much.
still grapple with the problem of how to launder riding clothing
constructed of materials with very different cleaning requirements.
The detergent products that do a great job cleaning sweat and ground-in
mud off fabric also pull the lubricating oils out of leather, leaving
it stiff and uncomfortable when it dries. The inner fibers become
brittle and eventually break down. Suede, the leather of choice
for good saddle grip, has always been a challenge to clean and condition
because fat- or oil-based leather conditioners stain it and mat
the cost of a pair of leather-seated breeches, riders have cause
to be concerned about finding cleaning methods that extend the useful
life of their garments. Thanks to the synergy between two recently
developed companion leather care products, however, riders can now
both clean and condition leathers right in their washing machine.
The cleaning solution works during the wash cycle to deep clean
grimy dirt and leave leather fibers with a negative ionic charge
that attracts the more positively charged conditioning dressing
during the rinse cycle. The dressing lubricates and relaxes the
leather fibers. The procedure is not much different than doing other
laundry and the result is soft, supple, deep-cleaned leather.
Brush off any excess surface dirt from the leather. Quality-conscious
manufacturers use leathers treated to stabilize their dyes. However,
just as with different lots of fabric, dye permanence can vary from
hide to hide. If you are concerned about leather dye bleeding onto
the breeches fabric, test by sponging a dilution of the cleaner
in water in an inconspicuous spot first.
When washing lighter colors, set the washing machine for a small
load on the permanent press cycle (warm water wash, cold water rinse).
When washing darker colors, use the delicate cycle (cold water wash
and rinse). Add the cleaning solution while the tub is filling with
water. Put the conditioning dressing in your washing machines
rinse cycle dispenser. The dressing also acts as a fabric softener
but, unlike laundry fabric softeners, the dressing leaves no waxy
residue sitting on top of the leather. It is designed to absorb
deep into the leathers corium to keep it soft and supple.
Add the breeches when the tub is full.
Remove the damp breeches and hang them or lay them flat to air dry
away from heat or direct sun which can shrink leather fibers. If
your washing machine does not have a separate rinse cycle dispenser
and you dont want to hang around the laundry room to add the
conditioner when the rinse cycle starts, you can sponge the dressing
onto the damp leather before you leave it to dry.
new products now make washing leather-trimmed breeches a breeze,
washing leather fashion garments still carries some risk. Breeches
are designed to be hard working garments that can take a pounding
in the saddle or in the machine. Washing machine agitators can be
tough on leather fashion garments, however. Their lightweight linings
may tear along seam lines like a piece of perforated paper where
they meet the much stronger leather. Fancy buttons and trims are
also more easily damaged.
machine washing every leather garment you own may not be possible.
But whos complaining, now that riders can throw grungy, hard-working
leathers like chaps, half chaps, and sheepskin saddle pads in their
washing machine and pull them out cleaned, softened and suppled.
For more information visit www.leathertherapy.com.