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Long live leather: How to take care of a leather jacket

How do you wash a leather jacket? What is leather jacket conditioner for? Use this leather jacket treatment advice to keep your jacket looking great.

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Row of clean leather jackets on hangers

Key Steps

The basics of leather jacket treatment:

  • Keep it on a hanger, away from water and heat.

  • Use leather jacket conditioner to keep it flexible.

  • Clean it with a damp cloth.

  • To clean the lining, use mild washing-up liquid.

  • If in doubt, take it to a professional.

Leather’s a durable material, but only if it’s treated well. If you don’t know the best way to clean a leather jacket, that’s what we’re here for. Here’s our handy guide to leather jacket treatment.

Don’t overclean your jacket. You don’t need to wash a leather jacket after every wearing. Sometimes it just needs to be aired out, away from direct sunlight.

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How to take care of a leather jacket from day to day

Your leather jacket will need some level of care each day and here are some tips:

  1. Read the care label

    to get an idea of the dos and don’ts for your specific jacket.

  2. Don’t fold your leather jacket and stash it in a drawer

    ... or it’ll get permanent creases.

  3. Use a sturdy hanger, wooden or padded.

    If your jacket is left on a narrow hanger, the shoulders will pull themselves out of shape.

  4. Keep your jacket away from direct heat, or it’ll dry out.

    Don’t lean against a radiator with your leather jacket on!

  5. Try not to get leather wet.

    If you can’t avoid getting rained on, hang your jacket in a well ventilated area to dry, away from direct heat or sunlight.

  6. Apply a small amount of leather jacket conditioner with a soft cloth.

    Do this every few months, or after cleaning, to keep your jacket supple.

How to clean a leather jacket

How do you wash a leather jacket? It depends! Here are a few leather jacket problems you might come across, along with how to deal with them.

  1. If your leather jacket’s looking in need of some attention

    give it a careful wipe-down with a damp (but not dripping) clean cloth. Dry it afterwards with a clean towel.

  2. To deal with scuff marks

    dip a cotton swab quickly in nail varnish remover – don’t soak it – and use it to blot the mark. Wipe the nail varnish remover away with a damp cloth afterwards. This can also be used for ink stains.

  3. To deal with oil stains

    blot away as much as you can with a rag (don’t scrub), then spread talcum powder on the stain and leave it for an hour or two to absorb the oil. Brush the powder away and wipe the jacket down with a damp cloth afterwards, then dry with a clean towel.

  4. If your leather jacket is looking mouldy

    dilute rubbing alcohol with an equal amount of water. Dip a cloth in this, squeeze it out, then use the damp cloth to clean away the mould. Regularly rinse the cloth and apply the diluted alcohol again, so you’re not just spreading the mould around. Afterwards, use a leather jacket conditioner so the leather doesn’t dry out.

  5. If the leather is stiff with sweat

    give it a quick, gentle hand wash in warm water mixed with a little fabric conditioner, such as Comfort Intense Fresh Sky. Press the excess water out with a towel; don’t wring the jacket. Afterwards, lay the jacket flat on a fresh towel and leave it to dry in a well ventilated room, keeping it away from direct sunlight and radiators. Use a leather jacket conditioner once it’s dried.

  6. If you want to get rid of all the how-to-wash-leather-jacket stress and guesswork

    take your jacket to a specialised leather cleaner.

Can you wash a leather jacket in the washing machine? We wouldn’t recommend it. If you want your jacket to last, stick to washing by hand.

How to clean a leather jacket lining

The lining of your leather jacket might not smell its best if you’ve been wearing it for a while. To wash leather jacket lining:

  1. Make a solution of washing-up liquid and water

    Use a small squirt of mild washing-up liquid and warm water.

  2. Dampen a clean cloth or sponge in the soapy water

    Squeeze out the excess.

  3. Wipe down the lining thoroughly

    Turn the jacket inside-out for this step.

  4. Remove any soap residue

    To do this, dampen a cloth with water (again, don’t leave it dripping), and use it to go over all the areas you just cleaned.

  5. Put the jacket on a padded hanger, still inside-out

    Hang it in a ventilated room until the lining has dried.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

Leather may not be the simplest material to look after, but proper care pays off. A little proper leather jacket treatment will mean your jacket keeps looking and feeling great.

Originally published