A Guide to Leather Jacket Care

Posted: 18th December 2017 in ,

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
    • Waterproofing
    • 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:

  1. Turn the jacket inside out and place on a sturdy hanger.
  2. Use light, soapy water and a soft sponge to gently clean important areas (normally the cuffs and under the arms).
  3. Leave it to dry naturally – this also airs out the rest of the garment.
  4. 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

Womens Lotty leather jacket flower detail

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.

Ink/Pen/Biro Stain on your leather jacket

Removing ink stains from a leather jacket is easier when wet, but not impossible if the stain is already dry. The most reliable way to remove ink is to buy a leather ink remover kit, testing it on an inconspicuous area first (if you can). Other methods, like nail varnish remover, are likely to spread the stain rather than remove it.

The tricky thing with ink stains is that many remedies that do remove the ink can also cause discolouration of the leather itself. If this happens, there are kits that you can buy to restore the colour, but this makes the process more lengthy and costly than it needs to be.

Preventing and dealing with mould

In order to prevent mould from appearing, you should hang your leather jacket in a cool, dry space where moisture can’t reach it. If mould does appear, you can remove it by a combination of scraping the afflicted area, washing it and applying conditioner.

For health reasons, you should always deal with mould outside. This lowers the risk of you breathing it in or spores lingering inside your house. Start by carefully scraping as much of the mould off as possible with a basic knife or something similar.

When you’ve scraped off as much as possible, apply warm soapy water with a cloth or sponge to gently clean the area. Clean by slowly moving from the outside inwards. When finished, wipe clean with a dry cloth and leave to air out naturally.

Once dry you can then treat the area with a leather conditioner spray or polish to add a little shine back into the jacket.

For more information on storing your jacket properly to prevent mould in the first place, skip ahead to that last section of this guide.

How to restore or repair your leather jacket

It’s possible to do a good job repairing leather if you know a few tricks. It’s almost impossible to completely hide a repair, but you can restore your jacket to great condition and do it in such a way that you’re adding character to your old favourite.

The first thing you should do in the majority of cases is to see if there’s a local seamstress or clothing repair shop that would be able to fix it for you. They will have the experience to do a good job and could even end up being more cost-effective than a DIY job. If you can’t locate anybody locally, we at Hidepark Leather can also carry out most repairs on our jackets. Simply call our office to discuss.

However, if you wish to try and fix your jacket yourself there are many different things you can try, depending on the specific problem.

Fixing tears and rips in your leather jacket

A leather patch can be sewn or glued over a small tear or rip to cover over the blemish. This is a quick, simple fix that pretty much anyone can do with the right products. One thing to bear in mind is that you need to be sure that you’re matching the colour of the patch to the rest of the jacket itself. You should also ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for any products, such as glue, that you might use.

Scratches on your Leather Jacket

A quick fix for many minor scratches on a leather jacket is to apply conditioner to the area with a soft cloth. For larger scratches, there are products involving leather filler available that, with care and patience, will significantly improve the appearance of even large scrapes.

If you’re applying conditioner for small scrapes, we recommend gently cleaning and drying the area first. This maximises the effect that the conditioner will have in improving the appearance of the jacket for the long term. We recommend the brand Punch for quality conditioning products.

Leather filler products for larger scratches do require a little more patience and skill than applying conditioner, but if you’re set on repairing your jacket without sending your jacket in for repair they may be the only option. These products can have excellent results, but always follow any guidelines or instructions to the letter.

Restoring life to a faded jacket

It’s normal for a leather jacket to fade over time with exposure to sunlight and the elements. Your first action should be to thoroughly clean the jacket – sometimes it’s just dirty. If it’s still lacking in colour, restorative sprays are the best products for quick, even restoration.

Sometimes, something as simple as leaving your jacket on the back seat of the car can lead to fading or discolouration in some areas. This is normal and signs of age can actually make some jackets look even better.

If you’d prefer your jacket to retain its colour for longer, we recommend buying sprays rather than cream to do the job for you. This is simply because getting even coverage is quicker and easier with a spray. Whatever product you use, always follow the instructions and test in a small, nondescript area before applying to the whole jacket.

Where to store your leather jacket

While you can wear your leather jacket with pretty much any outfit all year round, there may come a time when you need to hang it up for a day or two.

If possible, you should keep your leather jacket in a dry wardrobe or cloakroom, hung on a large, padded coat hanger. Keeping it away from moisture prevents mildew, and storing out of direct sunlight will help it to keep its colour for longer. The sturdy hanger is to help the jacket keep its shape.

If you wish, you can place the jacket in a garment bag to add a little protection if you are not wearing it during the warmer months. We would recommend choosing a bag that is ‘breathable’ to prevent the buildup of moisture or odours. You can make your own bag by piercing a hole in the top of a pillowcase for the jacket’s hanger to slip through.

Should you get caught in the rain, allow the coat to dry naturally, away from sources of artificial heat, before putting it in a wardrobe or closet. This is just to make sure that the moisture is completely gone before its put in a closed-off environment. In doing so, you’ll be able to prevent problematic buildups of mould. If you do start to see mould appearing, jump back up to the second section of this guide