Ask INSTORE: August 2006

Posted: August 01, 2006

Easy ways to clean suede, finding a good appraiser, and taking a fresh grip on handshakes.

Homespun solutions can spiff up suede displays

I want to get my displays looking nice before the fall weather sets in. What are some good cleaning solutions for suede and leatherette?

There was a time when this was a job saved for the holiday help, but if you must clean your suede now, try a homespun solution created by mixing half a cap of cleaning-detergent powder (with no bleach, no whitening agents) in cold water, says Larry Johnson, author of the Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display.

Dip a cotton cloth in the solution, rub the soiled area in a circular motion until the spot is removed, and then rinse with clean water. When the area is dry, gently rub it with a soft bristled brush like a toothbrush to get back that “suede look”. For leatherette you can employ the same method ,only use a liquid detergent instead of the powder and simply let the cleaned area dry once you’re done.

An over-the-counter solution that works well is Simple Green, which can be used on most fabrics and doesn’t need any special mixing or diluting. Some jewelers swear by white gum erasers — the kind you get at most art-supplies stores — to clean leatherette. Rubbing alcohol diluted by one part water can work as a non-acetone, nail-polish remover. But both are considered more “aggressive” cleaning solutions. “Test it first on an area that customers can’t see,” says Johnson.