How many terrible mould stories have you heard?

It’s now June. Summer has finally arrived in Hong Kong, and although humidity is slightly lower than it was in Spring, it is still over 80 per cent average humidity most days.

Humidity is what makes the air feel like a sauna, full of wet steam. Mould thrives in places of high humidity and warmth like walls, inside your wardrobe and even in your shoes. The damper and warmer an area is, the better for those mould spores. Keeping clothing dry and mould free in this weather can be challenging.

Now, what does mould really do? How does it affect us in everyday life? A few friends shared their recent experiences with me:

My best friend got married a couple of weeks ago and the weather was miserable, wet and humid.  I’ve always told myself I would never subject my friends to a summer wedding unless it’s a beach wedding because it is so uncomfortable to wear a formal suit. A few days before the wedding I took my favourite suit out just to see if it needed a pressing. The moment I took it out, I could smell the problem.  It was pretty disgusting to see the suit covered with mould and I kicked myself for not having been more careful.

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I only bought this Boss suit last summer and it was not cheap – more importantly though it fit me so well – I am pretty fussy about my clothes when I bother to dress up.   Can’t afford another suit like that and just wished I had looked after my stuff…ended up borrowing a friend’s suit for the wedding which actually fits me pretty well.  Anyway the wedding was a blast and maybe I should keep my friend’s suit…

Jonathan, age 31, Engineer

 

 I am a new mother with an adorable baby girl. I have been receiving lots of baby clothes from friends ever since I first got pregnant. Some of them were brand new, some were only worn once or twice.  But I was most looking forward to inheriting my sister’s cache of great baby clothes, luckily she had had both a boy and girl and really spent a fortune on her daughter Jessica’s clothes!  She had carefully packed everything away two years ago and promised to send them to me after I got out of hospital. Picture 2

Tragedy!  She called a couple of days ago to say she got them out of box storage and everything had gotten mouldy and nothing could be saved.  I couldn’t believe it – the humidity in HK is so high that storage is not safe for really nice clothes unless you have 24/7 air-conditioning.  And for my sister to throw all those expensive clothes away, Bonpoint, Jacadi, I knew it was bad.  This episode made me think about my evening gowns and other favourite dresses I haven’t worn in the last 9 months… will they have survived the humidity?

Rebecca, age 28, Designer

 

 I love my cocktail dresses and work out like crazy to stay fit so I still wear a lot of the dresses I bought 7 years ago (one baby later). I buy them in vintage shops and sample sales and have also been given a few great dresses by bosses who also had babies but changed their size.  Each dress is kinda like a friend and I colour code them in my wardrobe.  But I have to admit that there are a number of items that I forget about and they usually end up crammed together in the back of the wardrobe.  Last week I was invited to Agency of the Year Award and thought my company might pick up an award so I wanted to dress up.  It was Black Tie and I decided to wear a fabulous Givenchy dress. I went to the pink section of my wardrobe and found my favourite dress right at the back…covered in mould. Some of the stains were really dark and there was no way that I could wear it for the event. I will try Jeeves and hope they can rescue the dress, but not sure if I’ll ever wear it again.

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Obviously this isn’t me, and of course it wasn’t the dress I ended up wearing to the Awards ceremony after all the mould ruined it.

Angelica, age 36, Marketing Manager

Have you heard about PAKT?  They manage your clothes, give you top service and take all the hassle out of humidity, mould and heartbreak…  Visit www.pakt.hk for more details.

pakt clean room

Leather Care 101

We talked about fur care in our first post and now let’s move onto another potential disaster area in our wardrobe… LEATHER.  This covers everything from leather jackets, trousers, skirts to shoes and handbags.  It is also a problem for men and women!  Leather actually ends up constituting a large part of a person’s wardrobe.  Like anything stored in our home wardrobe in HK, it is susceptible to damp and mould.  With current March down pours, this might be something you should read now!

In Hong Kong, one of the problems that we all face with leather items is our fight against humidity.  As we race through the early part of the year (this year has sped by so fast has it not?), we are getting into the humid and sorry to remind you, wet months.  How many times have you picked up a pair of shoes, a hand bag, a leather jacket, leather trousers, dress or skirt and found that nasty green mould on it.  The smell too!.  You think a good wipe with a damp cloth to clean away the green stuff and then pat dry will get rid of the problem but unfortunately, mould is stubborn and comes back.

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The Biker Jacket is a staple in both men’s and women’s wardrobe and are usually the first victim’s to Hong Kong’s humidity and mould

Leaving dehumidifiers and air conditioners on 24/7 is of course an option but not only is it expensive but detrimental to the environment.  So what steps can we do to minimise that awful mould?

First thing to remember, leather is skin.  It sounds horrible but it is true.  Women spend vast amounts on skin care products for their faces and bodies and so leather needs some TLC too.

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you need to buy skincare products for your leather pieces.  What we are saying is that you need to treat leather like skin.  This means using products that help leather keep supple and maintain its natural oils.  An interesting fact is that when we touch leather, the natural oils in the leather transfer to our own skin and deteriorate the leather!

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Men take note, your leather items need TLC too!

So what to do…?

Prevention is your first step!

Remember that prevention is always better than a cure.

If your leather clothing is still brand new and unworn, make sure you protect your investment before wearing it out. Think about it—you wouldn’t drive an uninsured car, right?

Spending just five minutes waterproofing your leather garment (saving you heartache in the future!) will help protect from water damage such as rain, but also make the fabric more resistant to stains (a second plus point!)  We have heard good things about Meltonian Water & Stain Protector.  A word of warning, with any products, do a spot test somewhere not obviously visible to make sure it doesn’t leave any unwanted marks or cause discolouring.

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Remember to spot test any product on coloured leather just in case…

If it’s too late, and you’ve already worn your leather out without waterproofing, just skip right to steps two, and then circle back to step one right at the end of your process. It also doesn’t hurt to re-waterproof every few months, after you clean your jacket (key word here is maintenance!)

Naturally dry water stains!

If you accidentally get caught in the rain, or spill some water on yourself… DO NOT PANIC!  Putting in a tumble dryer or drying the wet spot with a hair dryer will make things worse!  The direct heat will damage the leather. Instead, we recommend you hang the damp piece somewhere light and airy and allow water to dry out naturally.

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Remember naturally dry water stains…

Alcohol can remove stains… 

This is mainly for those who have light coloured leather such as a cream/beige jacket.  The heartbreaking moment when you are wearing that jacket and your pen breaks and ink gets on that creamy beautiful leather.  Do not panic, actually plain old rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol) has been know to remove ink stains from smooth leather.  Suede on the other hand, you will need your dry cleaner!  If you try to remove the stain yourself, use a white cotton cloth (dyed cloth the colour on the cloth may run) soaked with alcohol and blot the stain gently until the ink has faded. Be careful here, scrubbing too hard could actually fade the color of your leather.

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Leather needs work to keep it looking so sharp…

Other Stains can sometimes be hand-washed…

Blood stains can be hand washed and should be done immediately.  If not,

Leather will become brittle and begin to smell.

Hand wash in warm water.

  • Use baby shampoo, mild soap or fabric softener.DO NOT use laundry detergent.
  • Gently squeeze the water from the leather clothing or leather lingerie. Do not twist or wring as this can cause the garment to crease or wrinkle.
  • Make sure to completely dry all metal fittings or they can rust.
  • Lay out flat ona clean, dry towel to soak up extra moisture. Dry at room temperature without direct heat. It can take 48 – 72 hours to dry depending on the garment.
  • Apply leather conditioner with a soft cloth. Be sure to remove all excess leather conditioner. Do not apply leather conditioner to the suede side of leather.
  • Always store in a well ventilated area.

A quick freeze can help freshen your leather item!

After a few wears, your leather clothing will probably be begging for a clean, but might not be quite ready for a trip to the dry-cleaner. To remove odor, kill lingering bacteria, and give the piece a general freshen-up, simply wrap your leather in a plastic bag and pop it in the freezer overnight.

Leather conditioner is your best friend…

Remember what we talked about earlier about skin care for leather?  This is it!  Leather conditioner is your friend in this matter.  Word of warning here, chose your product carefully, any conditioning products that contain petroleum or mineral oils as these may in fact damage leather over time.  Also make sure you do a spot test in case there are adverse effects.  Note of warning: leather conditioner should not go on suede.  Also avoid leather conditioners which leave a greasy, thick residue, as conditioners generally should be absorbed by the leather quickly.

Store in a cool dry place…

Do not fold your leathers as those creases will stay.  Ideally, hang your leather garments on hangers but avoid metals ones.  Do not cover your leather garments in plastic covers but breathable fabric ones.

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Follow our guidelines and you could keep your leather statement pieces to wear again and again…

 

x PAKT team

 

Please note that these images do not belong to us and belong to the original photographers who did the hard work!

 

FUR CARE 101

The sun is starting to come out and we look towards packing up our winter wardrobe and getting some much needed space back into our lives...  One of the quintessentially classic items of winter wear is fur that exudes elegance, luxury and wealth.  Let’s be honest, a fur also does come with a hefty price tag and is definitely an investment. 

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Furs are all about luxury, elegance, wealth and class…
Therefore care and maintenance of fur is KEY.  Actually that’s also true for your designer faux fur and of course leather.  Fur is especially tricky since you need to maintain the health of the actual fur but also the leather (or animal skin) underneath it.  If you get caught in the rain, it is always best to shake the fur first and let it dry naturally.  Hang it up but definitely not next to a radiator!  But otherwise humidity and chronic damp needs to be avoided as much as possible as it will not only cause the fur to come away from the leather underneath but damage the leather itself.  Mould eats away at a fur coat surprisingly quickly and you will be left unfortunately with remnants of what was once a beautiful lush fur. 


So what to do?  First thing, a dry cleaner cannot 
always help you (unless they specialise in fur).  You need to go to a fur specialist and here in HK, there are very few fur specialists.  Fortunately, we at PAKT (www.pakt.hkwork closely with one who works miracles with furs.  One of our clients had her fur coat disintegrate due to humidity with clumps of fur falling off the coat.  Our furrier resurrected what was seemingly a hopeless case of damp and mould into a restored fur vest.  Your specialist should be able to give you a condition report which points out any areas of concern and suggest what further steps need to be taken.  There are obviously care products which are used to help maintain your furs in cases of damp or humidity affected furs.  Traditional methods usually contain powders such as corn starch, walnut shells or even corn cobs! 

TLC is your fur coat’s best friend, if maintenance is done on a yearly basis i.e. get that professional condition report, either specialist cleaning so that all minute dirt or potential abrasive particles are removed or specialist repairs of any small tears or faults, and then stored in a 24/7 air conditioned and humidity controlled, dust and odour free environment, your fur will last and remain beautiful.  It is like an annual doctor’s check up but for your fur. 

 

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Annual Check Ups keep your furs looking beautiful

So now we have covered the biggest problem of fur care: damp and high humidity.  We also need to be careful of the opposite which is storing in an overly dry environment.  If a fur has been stored in very dry conditions ( a word of warning here cedar wood wardrobes or cedar wood balls may keep away mites but will actually suck out all moisture from your furs), the leather will become dry and brittle.  Also cleaning too often or unnecessarily is drying for a fur. 

So now we have covered the biggest problem of fur care: damp and high humidity.  We also need to be careful of the opposite which is storing in an overly dry environment.  If a fur has been stored in very dry conditions ( a word of warning here cedar wood wardrobes or cedar wood balls may keep away mites but will actually suck out all moisture from your furs), the leather will become dry and brittle.  Also cleaning too often or unnecessarily is drying for a fur.

So here we come to the most important part – storage when the weather turns warm and you don’t need your fur.  In fact for storage there are specific ideal conditions for storage for furs.  Furs have to be kept in “cold storage” as much as possible.  NOT room temperature.  Why? Because as the temperature decreases, molecules slow down. With such “biological” materials such as fur,  the less molecular activity, the slower the biodegradation process. However, this does not mean freezing it, if it is too cold, materials such as furs can expand and tear or become brittle and crack. The right cold storage means that fur and leather materials remain supple and pliable due to the natural oils being maintained and a slower evaporation rate. Once the oils are depleted from fur or leather it can tear as easily as tissue paper. 

So what are the ideal conditions for storage?  Professional 24/7 storage facilities are who you should turn to.  However, for your peace of mind, be sure you can visit the facilities to make sure it has the optimal conditions for fur storage. 

Here is a quick list of what you should look for (as recommended by the Fur Care Organisation):

▪ Between 2°c – 10°c is optimal, but any temperature under 13°c is worthwhile.

▪ Humidity controlled around 55%

▪ Vermin and insect proof

▪ Secure premises

▪ No U.V. light exposure

▪ Ample space for each garment

▪ Easily accessible (you may want your garment for an event or suddenly cold weather)

So there you go.  Fur care 101.

The key points that you have to remember are: regular maintenance and professional storage such as what we offer at PAKT.  These points will help you maintain that beautiful fur for many years to come.  Feel free to come and visit us and check out our fur storage.

 

xPAKT Team…

(Please note that these images are not owned by Wardrobe Therapy by Pakt and are the brilliant work of individual artists…)