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Removing odors from new, used and vintage leather garments & accessories

By: Stu Bloom

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RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona removes the odors and smells from new, used and vintage leather garments and accessories. Nationally recognized dry cleaner. We ship nationwide through our Nationwide Clean By Mail service.

Removing smells and odors from new, used or vintage leather garments and accessories using a myriad of home remedies rarely produces satisfactory results

The Problem

 

Leather soaks up smells and odors like a sponge.

The smells and odors in brand new leather garments (handbags, purses, backpacks, etc.) or accessories (shoes, boots, etc.) typically comes from the leather tanning process.

The smell associated with brand new leather garments or accessories can sometimes be overwhelming. Particularly if an individual is sensitive to such odors. Fact is, many individuals who would like to wear a leather garment often refrain from buying leather garments precisely because of that “new leather” odor.

The smells and odors in used and vintage leather garments (handbags, purses, backpacks, etc.) or accessories (shoes, boots, etc.) can come from a variety of sources such as food, mildew, mold, perfume, perspiration and smoke. 

The smell associated with used or vintage leather garments or accessories can sometimes be staggering — both literally and figuratively. Particularly if the garment or accessory

  • has been consistently worn over a period of years without ever having been professionally cleaned,
  • has been consistently worn by an individual who perspired profusely,
  • has been stored in a humid or “damp basement” environment,
  • has been stored in an environment devoid of fresh air circulation, and/or
  • has been infused with cigarette or cigar smoke or smoke from a house fire.

Typically, these used or vintage leather garments or accessories have developed a musty, moldy, stale, rancid smell that’s rendered the garment or accessory unwearable.

 

The “Home Remedy” Solution

 

Just google “removing odors from leather clothing or accessories” and you’ll find a  multitude of “home remedies.”

These “home remedies” range from ammonia, baking soda, carnauba wax, coffee beans, fabric deodorant, fabric softener, fresh air, handy wipes, leather cleaner, leather conditioner and linseed oil to newspaper, packing paper, rubbing alcohol, saddle soap, shoe polish, sunlight, tomato juice, vanilla extract, vinegar, vodka and wind. 

Here’s the problem: Despite a significant investment of your time experimenting with alternative home remedies, these home remedies will rarely produce acceptable results.

How do we know that?

Because we’ve restored countless leather and suede garments and accessories for clients who’ve tried these home remedies without the desired success. And because Derek Guy, a blogger who writes extensively on style and fashion, has experimented with some of these remedies.

He decided to test 4 of the most promising of these home remedies on a vintage biker jacket he acquired on Ebay:

  • Air: airing the garment or accessory out on a patio,
  • Vodka: spraying the garment or accessory with vodka,
  • Leather Cleaner: cleaning the garment or accessory with a leather cleaner, and
  • Coffee Beans: tossing the garment or accessory into a bag filled with coffee beans.

In a 2015 blog post on PutThisOn.com, he described the problem thus: 

“Although the jacket looked like it was worn by a sweaty, tough biker, it smelled like one too. I only wanted to look rugged; not smell rugged.”

In that same blog post, he rated the effectiveness of the four above-mentioned remedies a 3/10, 4/10, 1/10 and 5/10 respectively.

Given the poor results achieved, he decided to send the jacket to RAVE FabriCARE to determine whether we could improve on the results.

He rated the effectiveness of our NeutraClean process for removing odors from used or vintage leather garments a 9/10.

Here’s what he had to say about the results of our NeutraClean odor removal process:

“Far and away, the most effective was sending the jacket to RAVE FabriCARE, the best dry cleaner I know of. RAVE is one of the few cleaners who will treat odors according to the garment’s material composition (most others use a treatment called ozone for everything, which can be good on some materials, but damage others). Plus, RAVE regularly treats clothes damaged by smoke in heavy fires, so I figured this would be an easy job for them. Effectiveness: 9/10. 

The smell isn’t 100% gone, but it’s damn near close. At this point, you have to put the jacket up to your nose to even faintly detect anything. Compare that to when I sent it in, and you could literally smell it from across the room. Pretty damn impressive.”

 

No Ozone Treatment. Ever.

 

In his post, Derek Guy states that ozone can “be good on some materials, but damage others.”

I’d like to add a word of caution regarding the use of ozone to remove any type of smell from leather or suede:

Ozone should never, ever be used on any garment or accessory constructed of leather or that has leather trims.

Why?

Because ozone is an oxidizing agent, a class of chemicals that breaks down organic substances into their base components. Depending on the source of the research, ozone is either the second or third most powerful oxidant in the world (fluorine is number one).

Ozone gas is the “go to” (and wrong!) neutralization treatment for almost every ordinary dry cleaner.

Because ozone is such a powerful oxidant, it should never be indiscriminately applied to any leather or suede garment or accessory or any leather or suede trimmed garment or accessory.

Ozone can irreversibly damage a leather or suede garment or accessory or a leather or suede trimmed garment or accessory. 

 

There is a solution

 

In the case of  brand new leather garments or accessories, that smell can be substantially neutralized or even completely eliminated without the need for hand cleaning or reconditioning.

In the case of used or vintage leather garments or accessories, that smell can be substantially neutralized or even completely eliminated by subjecting that used or vintage garment to our NeutraClean odor removal process.

Our NeuraClean process involves a combination of

  • neutralizing the odor,
  • hand cleaning the garment, and
  • conditioning the leather.

Here is an example of another vintage leather jacket that we restored by neutralizing the musty odors and then hand cleaning and conditioning the leather:

 

RAVE FabriCARE in Scottsdale, Arizona neutralizes, cleans and conditions new, used and vintage leather garments and accessories (such as handbags, purses, backpacks, shoes and boots) that have developed smells and odors

Please note: Because the owner desired to retain the authentic, worn look of this vintage jacket, we did not refinish (aka repaint) the leather to it’s original dark brown color. We only neutralized the odors and then hand cleaned and conditioned the leather. Had this jacket been refinished (aka repainted), it would have looked like a brand new leather jacket and lost that “vintage look” as evidenced by wear and scratches in numerous places.

For even more BEFORE and AFTER photographs on the transformation of this handbag, please view our slide show below:

 

To view this slide show on a full screen, hit the X button with the arrow tips.

 

Pricing

 

New leather garments

Depending on the garment (jacket, coat, dress, etc.), our prices for neutralizing the “new leather” smell on new leather garments range from $70 to $100.

The final price will depend on the size of the piece and the time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the “new leather” odor.

 

New leather accessories

Our prices for neutralizing the “new leather” smell on new leather handbags, purses and backpacks range from $50 to $100.

Our prices for neutralizing the “new leather” smell on new leather shoes and boots range from $50 to $100.

The final price will depend on the time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the “new leather” odor.

 

Used or vintage leather garments

Most dry cleaners typically offer a “leather and suede cleaning service.” A few do their own work; most subcontract their leather and suede garments to an undisclosed third party.

Most dry cleaners typically price their garments at a set price. For example, a leather or suede jacket might be $69.99. 

The problem is that the condition of every used or vintage leather or suede garment will typically vary from one garment to another and these differences in condition will typically dictate varying levels of skill and time.

Accordingly, our charges are not based on a set price.

Instead, our prices are based on the size of the garment and time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the odor and then hand cleaning and conditioning the garment. 

Depending on the garment (jacket, coat, dress, etc.), our prices for neutralizing the odors and then hand cleaning and conditioning garments start at $175.

The final price will depend on the size of the piece and the time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the odor and then hand cleaning and conditioning the garment. 

In this pricing section, we state that our prices start at a minimum of $175. That’s because every used or vintage leather garment  involves a unique combination of odor, soil, stains, wear and tear, etc. Accordingly, the time and materials necessary to restore a used or vintage leather garment will vary from one garments to another. If you’d like to send us a few pictures of your garment, we’d be happy to provide you with a more refined price range.

Depending on the overall condition of the leather garment, we may require a signed release before proceeding with any work.

 

Used or vintage leather accessories

Most dry cleaners typically offer a “leather and suede cleaning service.” A few do their own work; most subcontract their leather and suede accessories to an undisclosed third party.

Most dry cleaners typically price their accessories at a set price. For example, a leather or suede handbag might be $89.99 and a pair of leather or suede boots might be $29.99. 

The problem is that the condition of every used or vintage leather or suede accessory will typically vary from one accessory to another and these differences in condition will typically dictate varying levels of skill and time.

Accordingly, our charges are not based on a set price.

Instead, our prices are based on the size of the accessory and time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the odor and then hand cleaning and conditioning the accessory.

Our prices for neutralizing the odors and then hand cleaning and conditioning handbags, purses and backpacks start at $150.

Our prices for neutralizing the odors and then hand cleaning and conditioning shoes and boots start at $95. 

The final price will depend on the size of the accessory and the time involved in substantially reducing the intensity or completely eliminating the odor and then hand cleaning and conditioning the accessory.

In this pricing section, we state that our prices start at a minimum of $150 for handbags, purses and backpacks and a minimum of  $95  for belts, shoes and boots. That’s because every used or vintage leather accessory  involves a unique combination of odor, soil, stains, wear and tear, etc. Accordingly, the time and materials necessary to restore a used or vintage leather accessory will vary from one accessory to another. If you’d like to send us a few pictures of your accessory, we’d be happy to provide you with a more refined price range.

Depending on the overall condition of the leather accessory, we may require a signed release before proceeding with any work.

 

Turnaround Time

 

Our turnaround time for new leather garments and accessories is typically 2 to 3 weeks.

Our turnaround time for used or vintage leather garments is typically 5 to 7 weeks.

Our turnaround time for used or vintage leather accessories is typically 4 to 6 weeks.

Turnaround time may be adversely impacted by the ups and downs in demand during the year in general and during the months of August (we close for vacation for one week) and December (Christmas and New Year holidays) in particular.

Please note that we do not handle “rush” orders. As with all the services we offer, our philosophy is that the work is either done right or not at all. It’s a philosophy that’s served us well for over 30 years.

 

Nationwide Service Available

 

Do you have a new, used or vintage garment or accessory that’s developed a smell or odor and, as a result, rendered the garment or accessory unwearable?

RAVE FabriCARE might be able to help.

Even if you’re beyond the reach of our local in-store service or local pick up and delivery service, we’re still within your reach.

Fact is, we’re as close as your front door.

That’s because our Nationwide Clean By Mail service ships throughout the United States and Canada.

For further information on shipping your leather garment or accessory to us for odor neutralization and/or cleaning and reconditioning, please click here.

 

 

Photo credit: Jon Grogan/unsplash.com

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Filed Under:

Garment Restoration,Handbags, Purses, Wallets & Handbags,Nationwide Clean By Mail Service,Suede, Leather & Fur Garments

Author

Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Additional Resources:

https://ravefabricare.com/services/suede-leather-and-fur-garments/

https://ravefabricare.com/services/handbags-purses-wallets-backpacks/

https://ravefabricare.com/high-end-gently-used-garments-accessories-post-purchase-cleaning-restoration/

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