Leather jackets are bold and edgy statement pieces in any wardrobe and they can seriously bring almost any outfit to the next level. Wearing a leather jacket can make you look and feel amazing so that it can see a lot of regular use.
Unfortunately, with regular wear, genuine leather can become dry and cracked. Not to mention the other dirt and debris and stains that can develop around the surface. But how do your clean and care for your favorite statement piece? Keep reading to find out our best cleaning and care suggestions.
Cleaning Leather Jackets Properly
Cleaning and caring for your leather jacket can be a tricky process. In order to make sure your beloved jacket stays in great condition and looks incredible every time you wear it, you’ll need the proper techniques. Here are our best recommendations for cleaning your leather jacket, both inside and out.
When the time comes to clean your leather jacket, there are a few options you can decide to use. The first is a store-bought leather cleaning product, which can be effective and easy to use, but almost always comes with a learning curve. One benefit of a store-bought product is that many kits come with everything you’ll need, including cleaners and conditioners as well as a cleaning brush or sponge. Finding a highly rated product or kit can be a great way to save time and money.
The second option is simple household cleaning products that every home is likely to have: dish soap and vinegar. In order to properly clean and care for your leather jacket, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right amount of water and soap or vinegar. To help take the guesswork out of this process, here is our recommendation for cleaning:
- Pour warm water into a bowl and add 2 or 3 drops of a mild dish soap. Alternatively, you can mix together a 50/50 solution of warm water and white vinegar. This is an effective cleaning solution, but can dry out the leather and will require you to follow with conditioning.
- Dip a soft cloth or sponge into the mixture. Be careful not to soak or saturate the cloth or sponge and wring out the excess before applying it to your jacket.
- Use small, circular motions around the surface of the leather to remove surface dirt and grime. Pay attention to not over-saturate or rub the leather excessively when cleaning.
- With a new clean and dry cloth, blot the surface of the jacket and wipe away any remaining soapy water. Allow the jacket to fully air dry before conditioning.
- We highly suggest placing your jacket on a soft, padded hanger while it dries to avoid misshapen shoulders. You should also avoid placing your jacket in direct sunlight while it dries as this can cause excessive drying and cracks in the leather.
Once the outside of your jacket has been cleaned and dried, it’s time to take a look inside. The interior of your jacket likely consists of a lining, and that lining needs a cleaning and refreshing. Here is how to clean your jacket’s lining using regular household cleaning products:
- Turn your jacket inside out for proper cleaning. Fill a bowl with warm water and add a few drops of mild dish soap. You can also use the same vinegar solution you used on the exterior for added stain and odor-fighting.
- Use a soft cloth or sponge dipped in the cleaning solution, but not soaked or saturated, to spot clean and treat stains on the surface of the lining. Pay extra care around the underarms and collar.
- Ensure that there is no excess soap residue on the lining by using a sponge or cloth dipped only in water to wipe the soap away.
- Use a clean and dry cloth to blot the surface of the lining dry. Allow the lining to air dry completely before properly turning the jacket out. Again, we highly suggest placing your jacket on a soft, padded hanger while it dries to avoid misshapen shoulders.
Cleaning Common Stains on a Leather Jacket
When you wear your leather jacket regularly, there is almost no way to avoid certain stains. Here is our easy guide for cleaning a few of the most common stains from your leather jacket:
Oil & Grease
The best way to treat and clean a oil or grease stain on leather is with baking soda or another absorbent powder like cornstarch. Here is how to treat this type of stain:
- If the stain is fresh, use a cloth to blot and absorb as much of the oil as possible.
- Sprinkle the powder of your choice, we highly suggest baking soda, directly onto the remaining stain.
- Use a soft cloth to rub the powder into the stain and allow the powder to sit on the stain for a few hours, or overnight.
- After the powder has worked to lift the stain, wipe it away with a clean, soft cloth and then spot-clean the stain with warm soapy water.
One of the more stubborn stains is ink, but fortunately even the most stubborn ink stains are no match for nail polish remover. Here’s what to do:
- If the stain is fresh, use a cotton ball or swab to blot away any excess ink on the surface of the jacket.
- Dip a cotton swab into a bit of acetone-based nail polish remover. Be sure not to saturate the swab as too much nail polish remover can cause the ink to bleed deeper into the leather.
- Use the swab to gently blot the ink stain until it is lifted as much as possible. Again, make sure not to use too much nail polish remover as to not saturate the leather.
- To clean and remove the excess nail polish remover, use a soft, damp cloth to blot to surface of the leather before blotting it dry with a dry cloth.
Mold & Mildew
Unfortunately, with time and regular wear, even our favorite leather jackets run the risk of developing mold and mildew staining and stink. To treat your jacket for mold and mildew, here’s what to do:
- Lay your jacket on a flat surface and smooth it out to thoroughly check for mold around the surface.
- In a bowl, mix together a 50/50 solution of rubbing alcohol and water.
- Use a soft cloth dipped in this solution, not saturated, to wipe the affected areas of the surface of the jacket.
- Once the mold and mildew have been treated and removed, use a fresh damp cloth to wipe the treated areas clean.
- Leave the jacket on the flat surface, out of direct sunlight, to fully air dry before hanging it.
Conditioning and Protecting Leather Jackets
There are a few methods of conditioning leather using both store-bought and household products. If you don’t have access to a leather protectant product, there are various DIY conditioners you can create. Here are some of the more popular and effective of those methods:
- Mix together a solution of 1 part white vinegar and 2 parts linseed oil and apply this to the surface of your jacket using a soft clean cloth. Wait 15 minutes and then buff the surface of your jacket with a fresh cloth.
- Use a small amount of coconut oil or flaxseed oil on a cloth to buff the surface of the jacket. Both coconut and flaxseed oil are the best household oils to use on leather as they are hypoallergenic and won’t cause damage in the long run.
- Mix together 1 part beeswax and cocoa butter with ½ part almond oil, and heat the mixture in a bowl or on the stove.
- A petroleum gel like Vaseline is also a great and effective leather conditioner found in most homes.
Most leather cleaning kits come with a waterproofing product that you can use to further protect your leather jacket. However, if you don’t have access to a cleaning kit with a waterproofing product, you’ll want to shop around and invest in an alternative. There are 2 main products you should look into to waterproof your leather jacket.
The first is a wax waterproofing product like beeswax. In order to treat and protect your leather jacket with beeswax, your need a bar of the wax and a heat gun or high-heat hairdryer. All you’ll need to do is rub the wax around your jacket to thoroughly coat the surface, and then use the heat gun or hairdryer to melt the wax onto the leather.
The second product is simple and easy to use on most leather surfaces including your jacket. A good waterproofing spray can be highly effective and a great way to save your leather jacket and furniture in the future. Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the product very carefully and to always test it on a small area before using it all around the surface of your favorite leather jacket.
Can I wash my leather jacket in the washing machine?
You cannot wash a leather jacket in the washing machine. Extensive and prolonged exposure to water will damage leather beyond repair and you will ultimately have to fully replace your jacket.
Is leather ruined if it gets wet?
Getting leather wet can damage the surface and cause it to dry out and form cracks. Water can also create stains and warping on the surface of the leather, so it is highly suggested to protect your leather with a wax or waterproofing spray.
How do you restore dry leather?
To restore dried leather, you should first make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and then apply a conditioner or petroleum jelly like Vaseline to soften and loosen the leather. Dry and cracked leather can be avoided and treated with regular cleaning and conditioning practices.
How have you been cleaning and maintaining your leather jacket? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you! For more cleaning tips and tricks, you can check out our Boston Housekeeping blog or see what cleaning services we offer to find out how we can keep your home looking just as incredible as your wardrobe.