Leathers & Suede Cleaning


leather jacket cleaning

Genuine suede and leather garments require special processing to preserve the finish, feel and color. Therefore, you should only take your garment to a suede and leather professional that is experienced and equipped for this type of cleaning. On this note, Parkway has partnered with the very best leather and suede specialist we could find who services most of the major NYC department stores and the finest Fifth Avenue and area boutiques.

Our unique relationship with this company allows us to offer the finest services to our clients, and we have arranged for almost-daily pickups and deliveries directly with their New York processing facility. Even in situations where your “normal” cleaner is unable to remove stains from delicate skins, Parkway can often improve on their results. We may work part of the garment at our N. Bethesda location and another part in New York, but rest assured that you will be very pleased with the final result.

It is important to know that when cleaning skins, all pieces of a multi-piece outfit must be processed at the same time in order to ensure that these pieces match after cleaning.

Although we inspect your garments thoroughly before processing, we would appreciate any input you can provide regarding specific stains that you are aware of, whether visible or not. There are several methods of cleaning leathers and suedes, and this guidance will further inform our approach.

leather cleaning

Our best customer is an informed customer, especially when it comes to leather and suede cleaning, so below we would like to share some information about the unique nature these types of garments:

Color Variation:

Leathers and suedes that have been processed and refinished occasionally vary in color and finish from the original garment for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Basic Dye: The penetration of dye varies from skin to skin. Some dyes penetrate the skins, coloring them uniformly throughout. Others show resistance and only dye the surface of the skins. In other cases, the dyes used are solvent soluble, resulting in excessive dye loss during the accepted cleaning process. It is extremely difficult to restore skins dyed with solvent soluble dyes to their original color.
  2. Oxidation & Sun Fading – Some colors tend to fade and oxidize during normal wear or storage. It is generally impossible to restore blues, greens, aquas, and salmon-pinks to their original brightness. However, depending on the degree of fading, the color loss can be masked to some degree by re-tinting. The original color, however, may not be restored completely.
  3. Smooth Leathers: Finished and Unfinished or Naked Skins: Finished skins have a sprayed-on leather finish, which is sometimes lost during the accepted cleaning process. In those cases, the garments must be refinished to cover fading, stains, etc. Because of the number of colors available and the variations between them, there could be a slight difference from the original color. Unfinished or naked skins are those in which the dyes penetrate the skins, there are no surface finishes applied. Generally, these skins must be re-dyed after the accepted cleaning process to restore faded colors, cover stains, etc. In these cases, a surface dye is generally applied which may change the feel and appearance of the leather as well as add stiffness to skins.
  4. Antiqued Leathers: An antique finish will not be exactly the same after cleaning. A new finish must be applied after processing, which will not duplicate the original shading and patterns exactly. The color and feel of the leather may change slightly.

Dye Transfer:

Most manufacturers generally use colorfast dyes when matching suede or leather trim to cloth garments. However, when dark suede or leather is used with light colored cloth, or highly contrasting shades of suede and leather are adjacent to each other in one garment, there is always the possibility of dye transfer or color bleeding from the dark color to the light.

Skin Defects:

Many skins contain defects caused by lice, grub infestations, scars caused by wounds, etc. The manufacturer is able to mask many of these defects by treating the skins with oils, dyes or pigments. The masking dyes are not colorfast and, therefore, fade during processing. When this happens, the skin defects become very noticeable. They appear as a light area on suede and a dark area on grain leather.

Belly Wrinkles & Thin Skins:

Belly wrinkles and thin skins are inherent damage. Wrinkles that stop at the seams of specific panels are called “belly wrinkles”. Thin skins (split or shaved skins) usually have unevenness in the nap. When the skins are cleaned the surface tissues are exposed and the belly wrinkles and thin weak areas become evident. Holes can develop easily in these areas during normal wear and cleaning.


Suedes and leathers have a natural tendency to draw up slightly and contract as the skins dry out and natural oils are lost. In most cases, proper cleaning restores most oils and extends the life of the garment. Slight shrinkage is eased by body heat during wearing and the garment will take on body conformity. In other cases, depending on the degree of shrinkage, the garment can be satisfactorily stretched by a special processing technique.


Pigskin does not respond to cleaning and spotting as well as other leathers. It has very little nap and varies from skin to skin in color and texture. Because of the fiber structure of the skin, spots and stains soak deeply into the skin and are very difficult to remove. The types of cement used in seams and hems of some pigskins bleed through to the surface and leave dark marks and stains which are difficult to remove.

Split Cowhide (Bush Coats):

Split cowhide has a very rough texture and a heavy fullness of hand when compared with other leathers. It loses its color and oils more readily during cleaning than other leathers causing a slightly harsher feel. Because of the rough texture these skins are very difficult to retint.

Foreign Tanned Garments:

Certain garments tanned in foreign countries have been tanned and dyed by processes that are not always compatible with our cleaning and refinishing procedures and/or chemicals. Most foreign skins are top dyed for a brighter appearance. These vivid colors tend to fade and bleed easily during normal processing. These garments tend to react more adversely to cleaning and refinishing than domestically manufactured garments.


The linings in most leather and suede gloves are glued to the inside of the fingers. In most cases, the cleaning solvent will dissolve the glue causing the linings to come loose.

Plastics & Vinyls:

Plastics and vinyl are manufactured with many different formulas by hundreds of different manufacturers. Most of these materials will dry clean satisfactorily under controlled conditions. However, even when handled carefully, the material may shrink, stiffen and peel when exposed to certain chemicals used in dry cleaning.

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