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Thread: How to clean and whiten a plastic zipper on vintage leather jacket?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    Default How to clean and whiten a plastic zipper on vintage leather jacket?

    I bought a beautiful vintage red leather jacket with white leather across the shoulders and collar and elbow pads. There is a main zipper, two breast pocket zippers, zippers at the bottom to control the waist circumference, and a zipper on each of the sleeves. They are all plastic, all a larger tooth type zipper than that of pants, and all yellowed. I don't really care that they are discolored that much, but they don't zip without some serious tugging. I believe there is a lot of build up. I have never cleaned a leather jacket before and want to make sure I don't ruin the material. I have yet to find any threads or advice in my searches that talk specifically about cleaning zippers on leather jackets, just replacing them. I don't want to replace all those zippers, there are too many. I know I can use Chapstick or other types of lubricant to get the zippers to slide better, but I would like to clean them first. They feel like a plastic toy that has gotten sticky and absorbed dust.

    Ideas I've considered:
    I came across an interesting way to clean and whiten plastic things that have yellowed over time by using peroxide and sunlight. The article was talking about old plastic toys and it suggested using higher concentration peroxide than that in the stores (6% vs 3%, couldn't locate the 6% online or even in my local salon). It also requires the plastic to be covered in the peroxide, in a bag, in the sun for up to a day or so. I don't want the peroxide to get on the leather so I have no idea how I could clean the zipper this way. Someone suggested teeth whitening strips (14% peroxide). That way I could control where they lay, but that would require many of them and that could be quite expensive. I even considered covering the edges of leather with paint tape and use the regular house hold peroxide, but not sure how to drench the teeth of the zippers in liquid for a long period of time. Hoping for some very creative ideas in this forum to clean these zippers. Then I can move onto cleaning and treating the leather and brighten those whites.

    If whitening the zippers is not an accomplishable task I will happily settle with getting the gunk off and getting them to zip without looking like I'm trying to lift 50 pounds. Doesn't look so cool among the motorcyclist crowd.
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