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Summer Stain Tips Part Two: Leather, Pleather, and Canvas

At Red Hanger Cleaners, we've had decades of experience performing expert dry cleaning as well as wash-and-fold services. It goes without saying that if it can be stained, we've probably had to deal with it! When in doubt, it's always best to educate yourself before you attempt to clean tricky fabrics or expensive items. Read on for more tips on two common cleaning questions we can help with: Cleaning Leather/Pleather and canvas (especially shoes). If you need a personalized answer clothing or fabric care answer, please contact us and we'd be happy to help! 

Cleaning Leather vs
Faux leather/ "pleather":
What you need to know

How to clean leather or pleather

Many people choose leather or faux leather couches for their perceived durability, ease-of-cleaning, and neutral look that can go with almost any room. It's important to know the upsides and downsides of both of these types of upholstery, whether you have just purchased a new piece of furniture and want to prepare for future mishaps or a spill has just occurred! 

First: Is it pleather or leather?

If you've just purchased the item brand-new, you probably know. However, if it's a hand-me-down, or was bought second-hand, it's important to know whether you're dealing with pleather or true leather before you decide the course of action to take after something has been spilled.

  • "Pleather" fabrics have gotten much more sophisticated so it's no longer always possible to tell the difference to tell from a quick visual inspection. Real leather will, however, always have individual imperfections in the grain and texture.
  • Besides looking more uniform, pleather will have perfect edges and will likely have a "plastic" oder that is very different from true leather. The easiest way to tell, however, is the "push" test: press the fabric with a finger and if you observe that it stretches and the indent holds, you most likely have synthetic leather.

Pleather upholstery  cleaning tips

Besides costing significantly less than real leather, pleather upholstery is much easier to clean, particularly in the case of liquid spills. It also is less likely to be damaged by UV light and requires no pre-treatment or conditioning. For ease of cleaning alone, synthetic "leatherette" materials can be a great choice in households with young children. The downside is long-term durability: pleather can and will puncture and tear more easily than real leather. 

  • When using any chemical other than a damp cloth or mild soap and water, always do a spot test, even if it's synthetic. Some harsh cleaning agents can break down the plastic-based fibers. 
  • First, use a clean cloth or paper towel to dab at liquids and/or remove any solids. Because pleather is non-porous, if you deal with a spill immediately when it happens, the material probably won't stain. As with most stains, results will be best when you deal wit them as soon as possible
  • For sticky substances, mix warm water with a small amount of mild dish soap and scrub the area with a rag or dish towel. 
  • Although water stains are unlikely, you should still dry the surface as best you can after you've removed the stain. A clean towel should do the trick. Now you're done! You don't need to worry about oiling or re-conditioning the surface.

Leather furniture  cleaning tips 

Depending on the finish, condition, and age of the leather, you may be able to simply wipe the stain away. And remember, whether it's pleather, cotton, or real leather, time is not your friend! Begin working on a stain as soon as possible. This is especially true with real leather.

  • When cleaning real leather, always remember, less is more! Always try to take care of the stain by dabbing with a dry cloth first. Do not ever use abrasive cleaning materials. 
  • As stated above, use a paper towel dry cloth to get rid of any solids and as much liquid as possible by gently blotting. 
  • If there's still a mess, your next choice is going to depend on whether you're dealing with suede or full-grain leather. If it's full grain leather, try a mix of warm water with a little bit of mild soap. If it's suede, try working on the stain with a small amount of rubbing alcohol using cotton balls. Keep in mind that suede can be very difficult to clean and it may be time to call the professionals.  
  • To prevent water stains, use a blowdryer on "cool" to dry the area completely once it's cleaned. For full grain leather, you should next apply your favorite conditioning oil to extend the life of the leather and make cleaning stains next time easier!

To bleach or not to bleach: cleaning White shoes, laces, and canvas 

how to clean laces, white chucks, and canvas

It's not quite Labor Day yet, and you may still be rocking your summer whites. Unfortunately, canvas shoes (like Toms) and canvas upholstery on outdoor furniture are both very prone to summer accidents like popsicle drips and mud. While it may be tempting to bleach canvas, the material may discolor and we therefore do not recommend using this method to get rid of tough stains! Instead, as soon as the spill happens, get to work. Dab as much as you can with paper towels or a clean cloth. Then, try working on the area with warm, soapy water and a dishcloth.

  • If it's a wine, grass, or other highly-pigmented stain, another step is probably going to be necessary. Try this all-natural approach first: in a small bowl, make a paste of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and a small drop of dish soap. Using a clean scouring sponge or old toothbrush, scrub this mixture into the stain, let sit for 10 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Make sure you get all the paste off, or you may discolor the fabric!
  • We also get questions specifically about shoelaces quite often. Fortunately, we have a whole post on this topic so that you can learn how to correctly clean white shoelaces!

If you have an extra-serious stain mishap, whether it's a cushion or shoe or anything in-between, Red Hanger Cleaners can probably help! Don't lose hope; contact us today and we may be able to help. We have locations open six days a week all across the Wasatch front for your convenience. Additionally, we always have a monthly special; visit the page for extra savings.