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How to wash suede clothing at home

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Washing a suede leather vest with Tibetan lamb collar

It is hard to know what to do if suede leather needs cleaning. You can’t just get suede wet and use any old cleaning product or it could shrink or go hard.

And you can’t spot clean suede or it will water-mark. You can dry-clean suede clothing but it can be very expensive.

I recently washed two suede garments at home that had been in storage for a long time, using the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin wash shampoo.

The suede jacket and suede vest with a lambskin collar smelt musty, and where unwearable because of the terrible smell.

The musty odour was probably mould or mildew that had started to infect the leather and the fabric lining.

Washing a suede leather vest with Tibetan lamb collar

The suede leather vest was a beige colour and had a light beige Tibetan lambskin curly collar.

I had never used the woolskin wash to wash Tibetan lamb before so this was a real experiment.

The suede vest had some dark marks inside, around the bottom edge of the garments from wear. Possibly some dye transfer from jeans.

I washed the leather vest by hand in a hand-basin in cold water using the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin wash.

Once the vest was thoroughly wet, I let it soak for about 20 minutes to make sure the cleaner got deep inside the leather fibres and made contact with the mould to kill it.

Then I gently massaged the leather vest to push the water through the leather.

I even tried a light scrub with a plastic bristle nail brush over the areas with the dark marks. But this didn’t do much to remove the marks.

The marks improved slightly but where NOT removed completely. I don’t know what the marks where from but they would not shift.

Washing a suede leather vest with Tibetan lamb collar

 

Some of the beige dye came out into the water but it didn’t seem to make any difference to the suede colour once the leather vest was dry.

I then rinsed the suede vest in fresh water twice to make sure all the cleaning product was rinsed out. I put the vest on a coat hanger and let it drip over the bath for a day.

I gave the Tibetan lambskin collar a light brush while wet to de-tangle the curly wool and make it sit in a downward direction.

It was summer so warm outside. I allowed the vest to dry slowly and naturally in a spare bedroom. It took about 1 week to feel dry.

I then put it into the hot water airing cupboard for another week (which is a warm dry area) just to make sure it was properly dry.

And the finished result looks so much fresher and smells just like suede should – fresh & wonderful! The Tibetan lambskin collar looks amazing, soft and fluffy.

The musty smell was gone and I was then able to sell this suede vest knowing that it could be worn by its new owner safely.

Washing a suede leather vest with Tibetan lamb collar

Washing a suede leather jacket

This beige pig skin suede leather jacket had similar issues to the suede vest.

The jacket had been in storage for a long time and smelt terrible.

The satin lining was particularly stinky and musty but there was no visible sign of mould. I had tried airing it out in the sun but it was still to stinky to wear.

The leather jacket had dark marks around the inside edges of the cuffs and hem-line. Just the normal marks of wear that you get on a light coloured suede jacket over time.

How to wash a suede leather jacket

washed the suede jacket in the bath using cold water and the Gorgeous Creatures woolskin leather wash.

I forgot that I had treated the suede leather jacket with a water-proof spray years ago so it took ages to get wet. I had to really press it down into the water.

For this reason I let it soak for about 1 hour to make sure it was really thoroughly wet.

How to wash a suede leather jacket

Just like the vest I gave the marked areas a light scrub with a plastic nail brush. This time I had a lot more success removing the marks. Most of the dark marks came off quite well.

Then a good swish around in fresh water for a while and a good double rinse with more fresh water. Followed by the excess water dripping over the bath on a coat hanger just like the vest.

This time I hung the jacket outside to dry but in the shade on a warm summer day. I bought it in at night, and made sure it never got any direct sunlight.

With the warm summer breeze the suede jacket was dry within about three days.

How to wash a suede leather jacket

I loved this jacket, but alas it no longer fits me. So it plan to be sell it, so that the next person can enjoy it.

I can’t tell if there was any leather shrinkage from the washing but it looks the same to me.

And the colour has not changed, the jacket just looks fresher and cleaner. And the wrinkles from being packed away had also relaxed.

Both the suede vest and suede jacket could not be worn or sold in their musty & dirty condition.

So my main goal with my suede cleaning exercise, was to be able to use or sell these suede garments again after so long in storage.

By cleaning the suede I have rescued them and given these garments a chance at new extended life. The suede was still soft and pliable.

Not all marks can be removed from suede by washing but it’s always good to try this before the more expensive option of dry-cleaning.

Suede can watermark so we do not recommend spot cleaning. It is always better to get the whole garment wet.

Don’t wash any suede garments that are valuable or sentimental to you. If it is really important then get it dry-cleaned by the leather specialist. Every suede cleaning scenario is different. All suede washing is done at your own risk.

Special shampoo to wash suede leather

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Customer Testimonial – Possum Merino Knitwear at Gorgeous Creatures

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One of our happy American customers wrote an epic email expressing his happiness at the quality of the possum merino knitwear that he ordered from us. We are humbled and very happy when we get these lovely emails. This made my day.

“Dear Kirsty:

I can not thank you enough. The package arrived today with the items that I ordered from you.  The package was in great shape (having traveled almost 9,000 miles [over 14,000 kilometres) and the items were exactly what I was looking for!  I also have to tell you that you are just a delight to have met and talked to (both on-line and over the phone) and you were unbelievably helpful in making sure I ordered and received exactly what I was looking for.  You were also extremely helpful in working with me to determine the appropriate method of shipping.

In today’s world, as one searches on-line for an item it is extremely difficult to know who you are dealing with and whether or not the person and company are honest and responsible and whether or not the product will be of high quality and whether or not it will even come as promised.  However, you (and Gorgeous Creatures) are a company that exemplifies how businesses can and should operate and deal with customers.  You are helping to define what customer service should be. I look forward to recommending you to all of my friends and, in fact, I am looking forward to figuring out what else I can order from you, as I do look forward to the possibility of working with you again.

Kirsty – you are wonderful!!

Regards, Marc” – Connecticut – USA

How to wash a cowhide rug. Can cowhides easily be cleaned?

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Yes they can, they are in fact a very family friendly and easy to care for rug option. I am proud that I was the first person in the world to write instructions on how to clean a cowhide rug. And these instructions where then copied worldwide and in some cases changed to make them incorrect.

For example some websites say that you can hose a cowhide rug down outside, please don’t do that, unless the cowhide has been caught in a flood in which case it is already wet and you can’t damage it more than it already is, I really don’t recommend getting the leather wet if you can avoid it.

So after years of actual experiments (yes I intentionally spilled things on my cowhide rugs to see what happens), trial and error, years of using cowhide rugs as my main floor rugs at home and feedback from hundreds of customers, my cowhide cleaning instructions have recently been tweaked and updated.

And in another exciting world first we have developed a specialized cowhide cleaning product that we know will do a much better job and most importantly is safe for the leather. The natural ingredients actually moisturize your rug and make the hair glossy and healthy looking again. We recently went live with a special website all about our Gorgeous Creatures cowhide cleaner product that includes information like the ingredients.

Read about an extremely dirty white cowhide rug and how well the cowhide cleaner works (including photographic proof) in our blog article. Or how a lady in Australia cleaned an old smelly cowhide that her cat had pee’d on our blog article.

People often ask me about thing like red wine spills on cowhide, this is the least of your troubles. The Gorgeous Creatures cowhide cleaner is designed for general cleaning of dirt and grime but it also has some magic ingredients. What do you do when your cat throws up or your dog pees on your rug? Our cowhide cleaner is antibacterial and deodorizes any bad smells and nasty accidents. Rescuing your cowhide from all kinds of nasty spills.

If you want to save your valuable cowhide rug when accidents do happen this product should be in your cupboard ready to go when you need it. The cowhide cleaner is not a stain remover, you need to treat a spill as soon as it happens to avoid the staining.

We have made a video showing you how easy it is to use this spray-on wipe-off product spilling all kinds of terrible things onto a cowhide and washing it off right in front of you. Here is a link to the video on YouTube.

Cowhide cleaning video common spills

For full instructions on how to care for your cowhide rug visit our main website here. Or Click here to buy our cowhide cleaning product.

Special cowhide rug cleaner that is safe for the hair and the leather.
Special cowhide rug cleaner that is safe for the hair and the leather.

 Use this cowhide cleaner to solve these cleaning issues:-

  • Dust, dirt and mud on a cowhide rug
  • Red wine or orange juice spills on cowhide rugs
  • Food spills, chocolate, oil, grease and fat, sauce, squashed fruit and other food on cowhide rugs
  • Dog, cat or child urine or excrement on cowhide rugs
  • Blood from cuts or stubbed toes
  • Dog, cat or child throw-up on cowhide rugs
  • Cowhide rugs that children have drawn on with coloring-in markers or crayons
  • Makeup on a cowhide (don’t ask us how makeup gets down there!)
  • Cowhide rugs that have been caught in a flood

Use this cowhide cleaner on these skins:-

  • Cowhide rugs
  • Cowhide covered ottomans and furniture
  • Cowhide patchwork rugs
  • Calfskin rugs
  • Goatskin rugs
  • Reindeer skins
  • Deer skins like red deer or fallow deer

CITES permits for NZ possum fur – how to prove pelts in a possum throw are really from NZ

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Recently I had an interesting question from an Australian customer. He wanted to know if I could provide documentation to prove that the possums in one of our possum fur throws was really New Zealand sourced possum. I had to stop and think. As far as I’m aware New Zealand is the only country that can legally use New Zealand possum fur, they are protected in their native Australia. And this possum throw was going to be a gift for his friend.

At first I wasn’t quite sure how I could prove this in a way that was official, and then I had a great idea. All I needed was a CITES certificate of export!

CITES is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival on the wild.

In New Zealand our Department of Conservation is responsible for issuing a CITES certificate for exports. And because possums are not endangered, in fact they are epidemic, they are not listed on the CITES register.

So I applied for a CITES permit specifically for my customers possum throw. I provided his name and address, the possum species name (Trichosurus vulpecula), the possum throw size and number of pelts, and all these details where all listed on the certificate. The permit has a unique number that is kept on file at the Department of Conservation and is about as official as it can get.

This proved that the possums where from New Zealand and my customer was very happy. A CITES certificate of export is NOT needed to import possum fur products into Australia, this is an optional extra for anyone who wants the peace of mind to know that these possums are really from New Zealand and that they are not endangered.

If you would like to buy a possum fur throw or blanket and would like a CITES certificate please get in touch with us. A small additional fee applies. Some countries for example Hong Kong do require a CITES certificate for easy importation.

Decorating with mohair throws

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Decorating with mohair throws is about two main factors, texture and colour.  In the cooler months every home needs a beautiful mohair throw handy to drape over your lap when you sip wine in the as you sit outdoors on your deck catching up with friends. Or to cuddle up with your loved ones to watch a Saturday night movie.

Mohair throws are practical and pretty. Casually draped over the edge of a chair or sofa they add that homely touch that makes a house and home. Or on a bed a welcome reprieve to curl up under with the cat and a good book.

The really special thing about mohair is the way that the iridescent hairs take dye. The shimmering colours that you can achieve with mohair are like no other material except perhaps silk. Even the neural colours have a quality of visual texture that is beautiful.

Use a mohair throw as a contrast colour injection. Pick up accents of other colours in a room and reinforce with a mohair throw blanket. So if your sofa is a light colour go for a darker colour and if your sofa is a lighter colour then you can afford to go for a deep and rich colour. Even if you décor is all beige neutral consider a soft pink or blue to add some personality to the room.

Some of our best selling colours are Manuka taupe, Tamarind deep red, Glacier pale blue and Paper beige. Mohair throws are very light and easy to send overseas.

 

NZ mohair throw blankets

 

How to clean and wash a natural sheepskin rug

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Please read this article all the way to the bottom.
There is important information to make washing your sheepskin a success. Old sheepskins 15 years+ are risky to wash as they may have dried out and possibly perished over time.

Natural Sheepskin rugs are very easy to care for and when washed they can look like new again. This week I washed my two natural Ivory Double long-wool sheepskin rugs that I had beside our bed and are about four years old.

It is better to wash them in warmer weather. I waited for an overcast day in summer and dried it in shade. I bought it inside at night. If it is colder and your home is heated then dry them inside but not in a direct hot air flow like under a heat-pump.

Air flow is important but not over-heated air. Just warm air movement. They need to dry slowly over several days up to one week. This is important so that the leather doesn’t go hard.

This is what my sheepskin looked like before washing. It was dirty, the wool was matted and it had small twigs & things stuck in it.

Cleaning sheepskin rugs
My dirty and matted sheepskin before washing

It is important that you brush the wool BEFORE washing with a sheepskin brush, this is like brushing your hair before you wash it to get out all the tangles and helps to avoid the sheepskin wool matting up during washing.

I washed the sheepskins in a bath (because it was a double size and wouldn’t fit into my washing machine) using lukewarm water (38°C/100°F) and using a small amount of non-ionic and non-alkaline mild liquid detergent wool wash shampoo (Sheepskin woolskin shampoo).

Please only use shampoos/detergents which are non-alkaline, non-ionic and do not contain biological enzymes. They need to be safe for the leather.

Do NOT use Woolite or laundry detergents such as Tide. Do not use common wool wash designed for wool only. The wash you use MUST be safe for the leather. If the bottle doesn’t say it is safe then it’s not safe. You need a specialist product.

If your sheepskin is larger than a double it will be very heavy when wet so it is easier to use a laundromat but make sure they have a machine that can do a gentle wool cycle and a slow spin.

People often ask me why they can’t just use a normal woolwash. The reason is that normal woolwash is only safe for the wool, but is NOT safe for the leather.

If you don’t use the right soap the sheepskin may either fall apart or go hard and stiff. The wool may also matt up beyond salvage if you use the wrong soap type.

We recently developed a special wool wash that is safe for the wool AND the leather, this is a pretty unique woolskin wash. This is only available from Gorgeous Creatures but can be used on all kinds of things including your UGG boots, mohair throws, woolen knitwear hand washing and as a normal low-irritant laundry detergent.

Washing sheepskin in the bath
Washing my sheepskin in the bath

Don’t agitate the sheepskin too much while washing; you just want a gentle action of water moving through the wool to dislodge dirt particles. But not so much movement that the wool mattes up like felt.

Swish the sheepskin around gently in the water for about 3 to 5 minutes. If you use a washing machine it MUST be set to the delicate wool cycle setting.

Hand wash sheepskins with gentle motion in mild wool wash
Hand wash sheepskins with gentle motion in mild wool wash

Release the dirty water and refill the bath with fresh warm water to rinse the last soap and dirt away, you might need to do this a few times.

Roll the sheepskin rug up and squeeze out as much water as you can, let it drain and then transfer to a washing machine to gently spin out most of the excess water.

Rinse and drain the sheepskin rug to clean
Rinse, drain and spin the sheepskin rug

To dry the sheepskin rug I used a clean towel to lay it on, and pulled the leather gently into shape making sure it is flat. It is important that is dries slowly away from direct heat like direct sunlight and artificial heat or the leather could shrink or harden (I chose an overcast but warm day).

Do not tumble dry your sheepskin on a HOT heat, it is safe to tumble dry on a LOW heat but this takes ages. I usually do a mixture of allowing the sheepskin to dry naturally for a few days until it is mostly dry, and then finishing it off in a LOW heat clothes dryer.

Take care NOT to place the sheepskin on a radiator, steam pipe or in front of a fan heater as this may damage the leather of the sheepskin rug. Do not be tempted to speed up the drying process with extra heat, you will ruin your sheepskin. Natural air flow is best to improve the drying process.

Lay the washed sheepskin flat to dry
Lay the washed sheepskin flat to dry slowly in the shade

Use a metal bristle sheepskin brush to brush the wool gently and briefly while it is still damp. If it is a warm day the wool will dry very fast. Give the sheepskin wool another good brush as it dries and a final brush once completely dry.

Sheepskin carding brush
Brush your sheepskin with a special sheepskin carding brush

This is how my sheepskin rug looked once dry. Clean and fluffy and like brand new again.

Clean sheepskin after washing
A clean sheepskin after washing with the Gorgeous Creatures Woolskin Woolwash
Sheepskin washing kit - woolwash and carding brush
The Sheepskin woolwash is available on it’s own or as a set with the carding brush

NOTE:- If your sheepskin rug is very old, let’s say 10 to 15 years or more then washing it, especially in the wrong type of soap may cause the leather to fall apart. Or spinning it in a washing machine could cause tears in the leather.

It is really hard for me to say when this will happen because it depends on how the sheepskin has been tanned, used, stored and how much sun it has received over its lifetime.

Old leather is often perished where the fibers of the leather have started to dry-out, break-down and perish. This aging can not be repaired or reversed. Don’t wash a sheepskin that is more than 20 years old.

Any washing using these instructions is done at your own risk.


If your sheepskin has become yellow with age then washing it will not take the yellow colour away, this is actually UV sun damage and can not be reversed
. Treat yourself to a new sheepskin rug and protect it from direct sunlight and UV damage.

Dyed sheepskins should be dry cleaned because washing will most likely remove too much dye colouring. Or there could be a colour change if the dye reacts with the ingredients in the woolskin wash.

To check if your sheepskin is dyed look at the leather on the back. If the leather is white then it is probably natural. If the leather has a colour tinge similar to the wool colour then it is probably dyed.

All dyed sheepskins should be protected from direct UV sunlight or even reflected bright sunlight to reduce or avoid fading.

dryclean sheepskin Please visit our Gorgeous Creatures website to see our sheepskins products.

sheepskin woolskin wash shampoo-videoDemonstration video – How to wash a sheepskin rug by hand

Do you love the skin you are in? Or are you using another skin?

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This blog is just my own personal ramblings. This is NOT directed at the small percentage of the world’s population who are vegan, or vegetarian, or political animal rights activists.

It is directed at the majority of people who DO eat meat, wear leather accessories, and perhaps own a leather lounge suite, or have leather car seats and use all other various uses for leather in our daily lives.

But before we start I just want to say that I believe each person has the right to their own beliefs and opinions, just as I have the right to air my opinion. And that this blog is moderated and any rude or hateful comments will not be posted.

I grew up on a sheep & cattle station in the back blocks of Tologa Bay near Gisborne in New Zealand. I am probably more aware of where my dinner comes from than most people and the majority of people don’t want to be reminded where their steak, sausages, drum sticks, eggs or bacon comes from and that is okay.

I don’t want to be reminded either, and I am genuinely an animal lover. However I am philosophical and don’t have a problem with leather, I wear leather shoes; I have leather belts, handbags and wallets. I know for a fact that very little is ever wasted, and that leather is simply a by-product of food production.

The inspiration for this whole blog article has come from the occasional Facebook post on my Gorgeous Creatures NZ Facebook page www.facebook.com/Gorgeous.Creatures.NZ or the odd comment by people who come into the Gorgeous Creatures showroom to the effect that, they don’t know how they feel about a cowhide rug with hair-on, or that fur is bad, or even that leather is bad.

To quickly set the scene, Gorgeous Creatures is an interior décor and gift shop that specialises in leather interior décor such as cowhide rugs, sheepskin rugs, calf skins, cowhide ottomans and NZ possum fur throws. We also have a range of NZ made possum merino knitwear on www.gorgeouscreatures.com.au and we do have some vegetarian customers.

Overall the feedback is fantastic, but one persons Facebook comment made it clear that she didn’t like us using what she referred to as “dead animals” on our furniture. Stating that “faux fur is just as beautiful!!!!”

But when we looked at her personal Facebook profile she was wearing a faux fur jacket (we assume it was faux), but her partner in the photo was wearing a leather jacket. And to top it all off her Facebook banner image was the logo of Louis Vuitton, one of the world’s most famous LEATHER designers.

So we also assume that she must have a lovely leather shoe & handbag collection. So isn’t it insincere to make a comment like that when she uses leather and loves Louis Vuitton?

Most people forget that the leather we use every day comes from animals. And sheepskin rugs, cowhide or calf skins rugs are just leather without the hair removed. So the leather shoes on your feet and that leather handbag over your shoulder is only one tanning step away from being hairy.

And when I point this out to customers in the shop by saying “it really is no different from your leather shoes or handbag”, it seems like it has never really occurred to them before now and they see our products in a whole new more positive light.

So each person to their own choices and beliefs about leather or hair-on hide. I just wanted to make a few observations.

This is a moderated blog and I’m not interested in getting into a debate about the rights or wrongs of animal rights. That is a whole different conversation.