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LeatherCritic

Cleaning Veg Tan Before Dyeing

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This question started as a result of having some not-so-high-quality leather, that has some soft dirt marks, but now I’m curious about general prep practices before cleaning the leather.

I was considering using denatured alcohol to wipe the leather with a sponge, before doing any cleaning. I understand this is effective, but also that it may dry the leather out. So, is it better to water down the leather first? Will that help to prevent the drying/hardening provided by the alcohol?

I was then curious about the wetness of just water, since that tends to be used to help mold/form leather. Wouldn’t the water also cause hardening?

Should the process be to:

1. sponge water and remove most dirt that can

2. use a light amount of denatured

3. add water

4. mold to final state

5. dye

I’m considering something like making 3-piece gussets, where the molding may be important, yet hard to dye after molded (without dipping). I know it’s not ideal (or as affective) but can the leather be re-watered and molded after being dyed for those pieces?

I also use denatured alcohol for cutting my Pro dyes, so there’s a lot of potential for drying out. I’m not sure what the best process should be to clean and dye. I would like to add a cleaning process, regardless if the vegtan leather seems to need it or not, just for consistency between final products.

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By 'drying' after use of alcohol we mean that it removes the natural oils. Sometime after cleaning, before or after dyeing, apply some neatsfoot oil to replace the lost oils. Use pure neatsfoot oil and not NFO compound which has other additives in it

The water will only harden the leather if you soak it and dry it too fast. A mild washing will not overly affect the leather properties. If you use soapy water it will remove some of the oils - again apply some NFO

You can wet mould after applying dye, but before sealing the dye

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1 hour ago, fredk said:

By 'drying' after use of alcohol we mean that it removes the natural oils. Sometime after cleaning, before or after dyeing, apply some neatsfoot oil to replace the lost oils. Use pure neatsfoot oil and not NFO compound which has other additives in it

The water will only harden the leather if you soak it and dry it too fast. A mild washing will not overly affect the leather properties. If you use soapy water it will remove some of the oils - again apply some NFO

You can wet mould after applying dye, but before sealing the dye

This was super helpful especially the last bit about NFO compound. I had to check and didn’t realize my Fiebing’s was in fact NFO compound. Though I’m not sure why those additives are considered negative.

i guess it’s a good thing I also picked up EVOO. I assume that’s a suitable alternative to NFO.

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1 hour ago, LeatherCritic said:

I also picked up EVOO

EVOO turns rancid the fastest of all oils. Most will tell you to only use animal oils/fats like mink and neatsfoot but some get away with some of the more stable vegetable oils by blending it with some bee's wax. I've gotten pure shea butter mixed with bee's wax going on 5 years without it turning rancid but I generally use a mink oil paste after hearing so many things go wrong on others projects.

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22 minutes ago, LeatherCritic said:

Well I have saddle soap, aussie conditioner, atom wax, and super sheen.  I really like the aussie.  Probably will do Atom Wax + Aussie combo.

Just an FYI but Saddle Soap is really a cleaner and not a conditioner contrary to what some may think.  You should be okay with the Atom Wax but if you have some olive oil you can give it a light coating first; just make sure that it is very light because olive oil can be over applied very easily.

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