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

  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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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Greater Vancouver, Canada.


    >>> They are all plastic, all a larger tooth type zipper than that of pants, and all yellowed.

    White plastic going yellow is a common phenomenon just like the many plastic switches or plastic components found in a typical home and the yellowing is often more pronounce in fire plastic or stove where combustion is presence – often know as fume fading and have no idea how best to whiten it, let me know if you have found a solution to it.

    >>> 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.

    What leather-safe products you clean the leather, will clean the zipper plastic and fabric as well. Protector-B+ that imparts a buttery-feel will also lubricates the zip smoothly.

    >>> They feel like a plastic toy that has gotten sticky and absorbed dust.

    The urethane coating has deteriorated and will need a new fresh coating with MicroTop-54G (gloss) with 10% Crosslinker-25 to solves the tackiness problems.

    Procedure is done is this sequence.

    1] Restorative Cleaning:
    Degreaser-2.2 > Rinse-3.0

    2] Dry Preparation:
    Sanding with 1500/2000grit to remove existing deteriorating urethane finishes.

    3] Urethane Topcoat Refinishing:
    MicroTop-54G + 10% Crosslinker-25

    4] Non-Stick, Rub-Resistant Protection:

    Semi-Aniline Leather Problem Solving Guide
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    You may like to consider readying especially to the white panels.

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    Leather Doctor® Kit, micro-pigmented leather color refinishing kit is design for a holistic restoration approach to not only the finishes but also rejuvenating the leather for suppleness. Most of these repairs may range from missing finishes to abrading damages into the leather structure. Some expose areas may be contaminated with foreign soiling that includes conditioners, protectors, body oil, grease and sweat or alkaline overexposure from cleaners. A comprehensive repair for a long-term lasting solution will require a holistic approach to deal with both the exposed structure and surface finishes. The practical and functional softness and strength of the leather depends on the health of the structure with average thickness between 0.9 to 1.2mm from stiffness and cracking. The aesthetic aspect of the leather finishes averages 0.02mm (or 20 micron) in thickness for practical compressing and flexing from cracking. A leather-safe restoration system begins by stripping with Stripper-2.3 and rinsing with Rinse-3.0. Degreasing with Degreaser-2.2 follows with Acidifier-2.0. The suffix numbers of these four products denotes it pH value for recharging the protein fiber ionic positive besides the act of decontamination. The leather integrity is revitalizes once the ionic attraction between the positive protein fiber and its negative leather constituents like the tanning agent and fatliquor (fat, oil and water) is initiated. Leather rejuvenating system for softness and strength is accomplishes with Hydrator-3.3 follows with Fatliquor-5.0. Surface uneven absorption is seals with Adhesor-73 to reduce the need for color over-coating thus increase its flexibility and stretchability from premature cracking. Protector-B+ imparts a non-stick rub-resistant surface with a buttery feel, reduces noises that translate into less friction wear. As the leather surface is well lubricated it reduces compression when comes to heavy body contact thus reduces compressed creases and wrinkles.


    Stripping Existing Deteriorating Finishes:
    1. Cover and tape off frames, trims and protect flooring.
    2. Mist sprays Stripper-2.3, Eraser-4 scrub with help of 2000-grit sandpaper feathering out seamlessly and towel extract for an even appearance.

    1. Shake Degreaser-2.2 to gel prior to use with a repeat shake and rest until it gels.
    2. Transfer to Eraser-4; agitate to saturate the stain, feather out to the entire section.
    3. Towel extracts suspended soiling after 10 to 30 minutes or before it dries until it shows clean.
    4. Spray Acidifier-2.0, towel extract until it shows clean to a healthy squeak.

    1. Spray Hydrator-3.3 saturating the stain area and feather out for an even appearance.
    2. Covering with tissue paper without airspace to trap wick up stains instead of remaining on the leather surface as it dries.
    3. Peel tissue paper when crispy dry and use Eraser-4 to erase surface residue prior to fat and oil replenishing.

    Fat and Oil Replenishing:
    1. Spray Hydrator-3.3 to precondition the leather prior to fat and oil replenishing.
    2. Spray Fatliquor-5.0 and redistribute with foam brush until saturation.
    3. Repeat application each time water contents evaporate until fully saturated.
    4. Drive remaining surface remnants free of milky fat and oil until it turns clear with Hydrator-3.3.
    5. Allow natural drying for extra softness.

    Dry Prep:
    1. Erase wick-up residue with Eraser-4 prior to repairs.

    Adhesion Promotion Coating:
    1. Apply Adhesor-73 by foam brush to seal surface uneven absorption rate and promote adhesion simultaneously.

    Color Coating:
    1. Apply Micro-54 by foam brush, varnishing brush or airbrushing for professional result.
    2. Fine dry atomize dispersion with more air is achieve with 80 to 100psi of air pressure.
    3. Light spray is preferred and let dry in between coats to build up colorcoat.

    1. Shake the product well and apply by airbrushing for professional result.
    2. Use lint free paper towel to even out drips and streaks.
    3. Speed dries between coats with help of hair dryer.
    4. 2000-grit sanding may applies to improve touch and appearance.

    Rub-Resistant Protection:
    1. Mist sprays Protector-B+ redistribute with a foam brush / paper towel and ready for use when dry.

    Roger Koh
    [email protected]
    Last edited by Roger Koh; 10-27-2014 at 12:53 PM.

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