How to wash a leather jacket

So, the question “How to wash a leather jacket” is asked from time to time and that is of course a simple and fair question, however the reply will be lengthy. Let’s start with the “don’ts” when it comes to “How to wash a leather jacket”. You shall not use a regular washing machine when you try to wash your leather jacket. The reason for that is that you will ruin the leather jacket and it will never look the same again. Leather is a natural organic material made and even though it has been treated during the tanning process much of the leather’s suppleness comes from the natural oils that are still inside the leather. If you decide to wash a leather jacket in a washing machine it will remove these natural oils and when the leather dries out it will not have the same flexibility and smoothness. The leather might as well start to crack after a round in the washing machine.

There are products saying that they will replenish the oils after washing a leather jacket, but that is highly uncertain and unless you are willing to take a huge risk there are better ways to clean your leather jacket than to use the washing machine. So, the first advice when it comes to “how to wash a leather jacket” has to be, don’t use a washing machine. You should never wash a leather jacket in a washing machine, this will almost certainly ruin the leather. If you already have washed your leather jacket, then don’t make the second mistake and put the leather jacket in the dryer. This will shrink your leather jacket guaranteed and even further dry out all the natural oils that potentially were left in the leather after washing the leather jacket in the machine.  

The next question that normally comes as a follow up question to how to wash a leather jacket is whether it is possible to dry clean a leather jacket. Dry cleaning is certainly a better way of cleaning a leather jacket than washing a leather jacket, if it is done properly by a dry cleaner that is an expert on cleaning leather jackets. However, we still strongly believe that dry cleaning shall still only be considered if the leather jacket is heavily soiled. The reason for that is basically the same as for washing a leather jacket. The dry-cleaning process will remove the natural oils from the leather, perhaps not to the same degree as washing the leather jacket, but still enough to say that these natural oils need to be replenished at the end of the cleaning process. If this is not done properly the leather will dry out and potentially start to crack. Therefore, it is always recommended to use a dry cleaner that specializes in treatment of leather, and it is always also very wise to talk to the dry cleaner before the process starts.

Cleaning leather jackets is not easy so make sure to align the expectations about the end result. If they are experts at cleaning leather jackets, they will also be able to show you some examples of leather that they have cleaned before. Remember that the difference between leather that has been replenished and leather that still has its natural oils is that the replenished leather will need constant care to a higher degree than the natural leather. 

A leather jacket should really never be immersed in water. So, with that said it is always preferred to take really good care of your leather jacket and try to avoid getting stains on the leather jacket in the first place. Make it your routine to use regular conditioning and wiping of your leather jacket with a damp cloth. This will prevent a build-up of dirt and grease on the leather and also make sure to store your leather jacket properly and take care of your leather jacket to avoid unnecessary need for washing stains and grease away. 

How to wash a leather jacket

If you have been uncareful or really unlucky and need to remove dirt, grease or light staining, you shall always first try to clean it with a damp cloth and soapy water. If you have found a leather cleansing product that is said to be of really high quality, try it first on a place on the jacket that is not very exposed. Such a suggestion could be in the armpit of the leather jacket. After you have tried the specialty leather cleaner on a small unexposed area of your leather jacket, then squirt a small amount on a clean cloth and blot the leather.

Leather cleaning products are uniquely designed to help you remove the stains and dirt of your leather garments. The leather cleaners also usually contain oils to keep your leather jacket healthy and shiny. There are absolutely no guarantees for them to work on all types of leather, but they can be a good option to try if you need to wash small stains of your leather jacket if really necessary. However always remember, regardless of if you use a leather cleaning product or just soapy water, when gently washing the leather jacket with a damp cloth make sure to rather blot than rub the leather with the cloth and always avoid over-wetting the leather. If the leather jacket has become wet, then always dry the leather jacket naturally and make sure it does not remain damp for a long period of time.

Before starting to wash the leather, make sure to find out what material the linings are made of. If the lining on the leather jacket is made from silk or rayon it should always be cleaned by a specialist. If the lining of the leather jacket is made of cotton or polyester, then the lining should normally be ok to get the treatment of a damp cloth. You often read on the internet that you can wash your leather jacket with the help of cornstarch or baking powder, here the recommendation is still to be extremely careful.  So, the reply to “How to clean a leather jacket” is typically “if you really have to, extremely carefully”, wear it and store it with the respect a key item deserves.