Good leather jacket care will keep your jacket in top condition for years. As one of the most versatile and comfortable items in your wardrobe, a leather jacket is an investment for the future as well as a great item for today. If you treat them right, these jackets will look and feel as amazing as they did when you first put them on.
Leather jacket cleaning basics
Important aspects of day-to-day leather jacket cleaning include:
- Removing dirt, make-up and dust
- Wiping down the outside
- Washing the inside
- Drying properly when wet
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that there are numerous specialist leather jacket dry cleaners where you can send your jacket to be thoroughly and professionally cleaned. We recommend this if your leather jacket is extremely well worn and in need of some TLC.
You can do this as often as you wish but once a year should be fine. In the rest of this section, we’ve written some top tips that will help you clean your leather jacket at home to remove the gradual build-up of dirt and grime which will accumulate from daily wear. You can have your leather jacket looking as good as new with our simple tricks. However, please be careful and always test on a discreet area first. For help with trickier cleaning problems, skip ahead to the next section.
Removing everyday dirt, make-up, dust and more from your leather jacket
Apply a light, soapy water to remove the dirt that can build up in places like your jacket’s collar and cuffs. Dab mild, soapy water on the dirty area with a light sponge or foam block and gently wipe it clean. Be mindful that you don’t soak the leather through and finish by wiping with a dry cloth.
If the cloth hasn’t completely dried the wet area, leave it to dry naturally, away from artificial heat. It really is that simple! For stains that are proving more difficult to remove, skip ahead to the next section to find some alternative cleaning techniques.
How to clean the outside of your leather jacket
If you like most people wear your leather jacket daily then you can wipe down the garment with a damp cloth weekly, fortnightly or monthly. This will remove any build-up of dust or dirt and if you do nothing else then this is a good habit to get into. Don’t oversoak and leave to dry naturally away from any artificial heat. If you wish you can then use a spray, wax or polish to add a little shine back to your jacket. Sprays for leather upholstery are good for this or even normal (unscented) Pledge will work.
To remove the everyday dust and dirt that will build up if you wear your jacket most days, simply wipe the garment down with a damp cloth every week, fortnight or month. Be careful not to get the jacket too wet and leave it to dry naturally when you’re finished.
If your jacket’s looking a little tired, feel free to use some spray, wax or polish to give it back a little shine. Sprays for leather upholstery actually work very well for jackets, as does normal (unscented) Pledge!
How to clean the inside of a leather jacket
You can’t put a leather jacket in a washing machine, but cleaning the inside isn’t as tricky as it might seem. Follow this simple process to keep your jacket fresh:
- Turn the jacket inside out and place on a sturdy hanger.
- Use light, soapy water and a soft sponge to gently clean important areas (normally the cuffs and under the arms).
- Leave it to dry naturally – this also airs out the rest of the garment.
- Use a light spray of air freshener to sort out any lingering odours.
This process doesn’t need to take a long time and can be done as often as required. For tougher stains, skip ahead to the next section, which deals with more specialised cleaning methods.
How to treat a leather jacket
Most new leather jackets don’t actually need treatment to last. However, it can be worthwhile using products to soften your jacket or to give it a waterproof layer. The treatment products that you can buy at a good shoe shop, including sprays, waxes and creams, can all be helpful in this regard.
Of all the treatments available, waterproofing is the most universally useful. Most new leather jackets are made to be soft and long lasting anyway, but using a waterproof spray will give an extra layer of protection for a relatively little cost.
We always recommend testing any product that you buy on an inconspicuous area of the jacket first. This means that any unforeseen staining or damage won’t harm the appearance of the jacket in the long term.
How to condition or soften your leather jacket
Conditioning a leather jacket was once considered a must to ensure the leather kept its suppleness and didn’t dry out, which could lead to cracking. Advances and new developments in the tanning process of the leather mean that this issue shouldn’t arise for new jackets. After wearing it for a little while, your jacket will naturally become more comfortable, softer and more supple.
If you do wish to treat the leather with a conditioner, clean the jacket first and wait until its completely dry before applying. The conditioner that you buy should come with manufacturer’s instructions. Follow these carefully, and test the conditioner on an inconspicuous area of the jacket before applying completely.
How to dry a leather jacket
Always dry leather jackets naturally, away from any heat sources. If the jacket only got damp, it should dry without any problems. If the jacket is soaked, it may become stiff and a little discoloured, even when dried naturally. In this instance, a little wax or conditioner will restore it without trouble.
On the high-street, you may find that products made for leather jackets are limited. However, you can actually use most products that are made for leather shoes, handbags or even upholstery on your leather jacket. Everyday Pledge (unscented) or something similar is fine to use if you need to give the jacket a little shine.
As recommended above, applying a waterproofing spray to your leather jacket can solve this issue before it arises. Most sprays won’t be able to guarantee full protection, but they’ll keep the jacket safe from light rain and make the drying process quicker and easier.
How to remove stains from your leather jacket
As with any item of clothing, the longer you leave a stain the harder it will be to remove it. A professional dry cleaner will be able to remove some stains but not necessarily all. Alternatively, ‘home remedies’ that you can find online may remove the stains…along with the colour.
In this section, you’ll find out recommended methods for removing different types of tricky stains. These methods include cleaning techniques, recommended products and handy tricks. Fair warning though, some of these stains just won’t come off easily, no matter what you do. The best policy is to be careful from the moment you first put your jacket on to avoid any of these situations occurring.
Removing liquid stains
Always try to clean your jacket as soon as you spill any liquid on it. Wet liquid stains are normally simple to clean. Simply apply soapy water with a soft sponge or cloth. Dab with the damp cloth first, then dab with a dry cloth. Repeat the process if any part of the stain lingers beyond the first wash.
If a stain remains that cleaning with soapy water won’t fix, there are plenty of products available online that should solve the issue. Most liquid won’t cause problematic stains and if you’ve waterproofed your jacket the risk of problems should be even lower.
Removing grease stains
The best product for removing grease in our experience is called ‘Fullers Earth.’ There are many home remedies and tricks that you can try, but we haven’t seen any that have been as effective as this. Remember to test any product on a discreet part of the jacket first to avoid any bigger problems.