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How to wash a leather jacket like a professional

Can you wash a leather jacket in the washing machine? And how does learning how to clean leather jackets made of nappa leather differ from nubuck leather? Read to find out.


leather jacket detail

Key Steps

  • Don’t use a washing machine to wash leather jackets.

  • Clean nappa leather using warm water and a drop of soap.

  • Dust aniline leather regularly and use an aniline cleaner for cleaning.

  • Use a nubuck leather cleaner for cleaning nubuck leather, and leather degreaser or sanding block for removing stains.

Leather jackets are a style staple – but only if you keep them looking at their best. With a proper leather jacket care routine, a real leather jacket can last a lifetime but first you need to know what type of leather you're dealing with as nappa, aniline, and nubuck leather can all be used to make a classy jacket.

Here we’ll guide you through how to clean leather, including the safest methods to clean each type at home.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions whenever using commercial leather cleaners and work in a well-ventilated area.

Can you wash a leather jacket in the washing machine?

We do not recommend using a washing machine or tumble dryer as part of your leather jacket care. The risks of doing so include:

  • Causing the leather to crack.

  • Causing the jacket to shrivel or dry out.

  • Causing the leather jacket to shrink to as much as a full size smaller.

How to clean leather jacket (by leather type)

Leather jacket care is easier than you might think with these step-by-step guides to cleaning different types of leather.

How to clean a nappa leather jacket

Washing your nappa leather jacket is easier than you think and is best done at home instead of at a dry-cleaners.

  1. Only clean your nappa leather jacket once or twice a year at most.

  2. Use warm water and a drop or two of a mild dish soap such as Lux.

  3. Dip a soft, clean cloth into the warm water.

  4. Rub a drop of soap in circular motions across the jacket. You should not need much to clean the whole jacket.

  5. Pay particular attention to stained or soiled areas.

  6. Use a dry, clean cloth to gently dry your jacket after cleaning.

  7. Finish with a leather conditioner, ensuring you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when doing so.

How to clean an aniline leather jacket

Aniline is one of the most natural-looking leather types used to create jackets as it shows the natural characteristics of the animal hide. This means it is important to keep it clean to make the most of it.

  1. Make sure you dust the surface regularly. We recommend doing so at least once a week using a soft brush as it is likely to pick up dirt and dirt which could be easily visible when worn due to the natural look of the material.

  2. If you spill something on your jacket, dab at the stain to clean it up. Never rub as this will push the stain further into the leather fibres.

  3. Avoid using household products to clean your jacket, as this could do more harm than good.

  4. Invest in an aniline leather cleaner and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using it.

  5. Apply an aniline protection cream once your jacket is cleaned.

How to clean a nubuck leather jacket

There are a few simple steps which will ensure that your nubuck leather jacket looks good as new in no time at all!

  1. Start by using a nubuck cloth to wipe the surface clean of any loose dirt. Alternatively, you can use a soft brush but always check the instructions for your specific jacket and look for a brush recommended for nubuck use.

  2. Use a liquid or spray cleaner designed for nubuck leather to clean your jacket. Take care to follow the instructions on the label.

  3. For tough stains, consider using a leather degreaser. Follow the instructions on the label but as a general rule they need to be left for around 1 hour to work.

  4. For stubborn or set in stains, you can sand the surface of nubuck leather to remove the stain.

  5. Spray your nubuck jacket with a leather protection spray at least once every 6 months to keep it looking its best for longer.

Now you have our guide to leather jacket care you know how to wash your leather jacket regardless of what type of leather it is made from. For more clothes cleaning tips and hacks, check out our articles on how to wash wool and even how to recycle old clothes if you want to turn your old outfits into something new.

Originally published