How Do You Clean a Leather Jacket, Conditioning a Leather Jacket

How Do You Clean a Leather Jacket, Conditioning a Leather Jacket

My dad used to wear a big sheepskin leather jacket in the winters, and I always thought it was cool. He had a few leather jackets, but I also remember he never really took care of them.

When I got older, I found some of these jackets, and wanted to wear them. But they were all dry and wrinkled. I didn't want to damage them, so I found out how to restore leather and went to work. 

You really need to care for your leather jacket, so it doesn't dry and end up flaking, worse tearing. It's not hard at all and very inexpensive. If you are spending money on a good leather jacket, then you need to know how to look after a leather jacket.

In this article, I will go over the top tips to look after your leather jacket. Maintenance is key here, so let’s get started.

 Maintenance Tips for Looking After Your Leather Jacket

How Do You Clean a Leather Jacket

You might be thinking “can you wash a leather jacket?”. If so, then how do you clean a leather jacket? You would be right in thinking that you can’t just throw your leather jacket in the washing machine, a little more finesse is required. So, let’s talk about how to clean a leather jacket.

You should regularly clean your leather jacket to remove dirt, dust, and stains. Use a soft cloth or sponge dampened with a mild leather cleaner or a mixture of warm water and gentle soap. Gently wipe the surface in circular motions, paying extra attention to any soiled areas. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the leather's texture and color.

You need to regularly clean your leather jacket. Leather is porous, just walking around it picks up dust dirt and stains. You should use a soft cloth or a sponge dampened with a mild leather cleaner. If you don’t have any, you can also use a mixture or warm water and some gentle soap.

Wipe the surface of the leather in a circular motion, pay attention to the heavily soiled areas. You don’t need to apply too much pressure and should always avoid using any harsh chemicals or abrasive materials that can damage the leather.

How to Condition a Leather Jacket

To keep the leather soft, you need to use a leather jacket conditioner. It doesn’t have to be made specifically for leather jackets, just a good conditioner for leather will do. The conditioner will keep the leather from drying out and stop it from cracking and shriveling up.

To condition a leather jacket, use a cotton rag, or a cotton bud to dip into the conditioner and rub it evenly over the surface of the leather jacket. Focus more on the dry and cracking areas, but if you are doing this regularly the leather should have an even texture overall.

Once you apply the conditioner to the leather jacket, allow it to be absorbed for a few hours, preferably overnight before you wipe away any excess. Conditioning your leather will help preserve the natural oils, keeping the leather supple and preventing cracks.

How to Store a Leather Jacket

Storing your leather jacket properly plays a big role in preserving the quality of the leather. When you are not wearing it, or storing your leather jacket for the summer, you want to make sure you take the right precautions.

So, what is the best way to store a leather jacket?

You should hang the jacket on a wide, padded hanger in a well-ventilated area that is away from any direct sunlight, and not subject to a lot of temperature variations. Also, don’t store you leather jacket in a plastic bag, or in any non-breathable materials. This will cause a buildup of moisture and possibly end up with mold and mildew growing on your jacket.

Another trick when storing your leather jacket is to stuff the sleeves with cotton towels or socks so it keeps its form. These tips will keep your jacket and the leather in good condition for a much longer time than if you were to simply put it on a hanger and stick it in a closet.

Avoid Excessive Moisture

Your leather jacket shouldn’t be exposed to large amounts of water. Sure, you can get stuck in the rain from time to time, but you want to get as much of that moisture out of the jacket as quickly as possible. If your leather jacket gets wet, just blot the surface gently with a dry cloth (plain white to avoid any color transference.

Don’t dry your leather jacket out in the sun, or with a hair dryer as the rapid removal of moisture can cause the leather to crack. Always let the leather dry naturally at room temperature, away from any heat sources. Once dry, you can then apply the leather conditioner to restore moisture and prevent any stiffness.

Getting Your Leather Jacket Professionally Cleaned

If you don’t have the time or materials, you can take your leather jacket to get professionally cleaned. Or maybe you have a really stubborn stain like ink or bloodstains, and this can require a more extensive cleaning process. Professional leather cleaners have the tools and expertise, also the experience in removing stains from delicate leather jackets.

Do a little research and look for a reputable cleaning service that has a track record of working with leather. The average dry cleaners may not come across leather jackets too often, and you don’t want them practicing on yours.


Here are some other questions you might want answered about cleaning your leather jacket. Leather is durable, but also very delicate and requires care. Even before I got into leatherwork, I remember looking up tips on cleaning leather to keep my timberlands clean. So here I have compiled all of the questions I have thought about over the years on the subject and what I have learned.

Can I wash my leather jacket in a washing machine?

No, machine washing a leather jacket can damage the leather's texture and cause shrinkage. Leather jackets should be cleaned by hand with mild cleaning solutions and gentle techniques we discussed.

How often should I condition my leather jacket?

This depends on where you live really. If you live in a hot and dry climate, then you will need to condition your jacket more often. In a moister climate you will do this less, but to be on the safe side you should condition you leather jacket every 3-6 months.

How to clean a leather jacket that smells?

One of the best ways to get smells out of leather jackets is to simply hang them out in a cool place with air flow. Leather picks up the smells around it, so hanging it in an airy place for a few days will remove most smells. You can spray the lining of the jacket with a mild fabric spray to help a little.

How to clean mold off of a black leather jacket?

Cleaning mold off a leather jacket needs some precautions and takes a little work. First, you want to be in a well ventilated are to avoid breathing in the spores. Then with a brush, clean the surface and as much of the mold as possible. Don’t be too harsh though or you might scuff the leather.

Mix a solution of mild soap and warm water and using a cotton cloth rub the area with mold in circular motions. Do this a couple more times with clean water, then dab it dry. Hang the jacket to dry naturally in a well-ventilated room. Once dry, you can then apply your leather conditioner.

How to clean the inside of a leather jacket?

The lining of a leather jacket can be made of different materials. The safest option is to get it professionally cleaned. If you want to do it yourself, find out what type of material the lining is made from, and use the best practices accordingly. If it is just a stain you need to remove, you can spot clean it, but for a more thorough clean I would always go to a professional.

How to dry a leather jacket?

Don’t ever put your leather jacket in a dryer or apply a direct heat source. Always hang your leather jacket and let it dry naturally in a room with air flow. Applying heat to the leather will cause it dry too quickly and possibly crack.

How to clean a leather jacket at home?

Cleaning your leather jacket at home is simple enough, you just need to be cautious with the cleaning products you use. Mix a mild soap with some warm water. With a cotton cloth (white to avoid any transference) rub the surface of the leather in a circular motion. Do the same with clear water to remove any excess, then hang the jacket to dry away from any direct sunlight or heat source.

Can you put a leather jacket in the washing machine?

Unless you are plotting revenge and want to ruin someone’s day, please do not ever put a leather jacket in the washing machine. Always opt to clean your leather jacket at home with the methods we have talked about, or get it professionally cleaned.

How to wash a leather jacket from a thrift store?

The best option here is to get it washed professionally, to get a deep clean. But if you want to clean you leather jacket yourself, then just follow the cleaning tips we have discussed in the article.

 Diy leather jacket conditioner?

You can make your own leather conditioner if you don’t want to go out any buy it. Simply mix some coconut or olive oil with some white vinegar (1:1), add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you want as well. Mix well, and test on a small part of the jacket first, then evenly rub the mixture into your leather jacket. Let the conditioner soak into the jacket overnight, then remove any excess and buff the leather with a dry cloth.

Will rain ruin a leather jacket?

You might be asking yourself can I wear a leather jacket in the rain? Not all leather jackets are the same, and if the leather is oil treated, it will be more durable to the water. However, my advice would be to keep your leather jacket out of the rain as the excess water can damage the leather. If you get caught in the rain it´s not going to destroy your jacket in one go, but over time it can damage the leather.

Can you put a leather jacket in the dryer?

You should never put your leather jacket in a dryer. The heat will remove the moisture from the jacket too quick, dry up the oils and end up causing the leather to crack and damage. 



The main thing is maintaining your leather jacket. If you take good care of your leather jacket regularly, then other than the accidental stain, and a regular clean, you should not need to do too much. 

A good leather jacket will last for generations if kept properly. The look and feel of an old leather jacket that has been well looked after is not something money can buy. So take care of your jacket. 

I hope I have given you enough information on how to clean your leather jacket and you find it useful. If you have any other tips and tricks on how to clean leather I would love to hear from you in the comments. 



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