Check the Label
Probably the most obvious piece of advice we can give, but it’s still worth remembering. Not all leather jackets are created equal. The type of material used to make the jacket – whether it’s cowhide, sheepskin, buckskin or even antelope – will make a big difference when it comes to what you should and shouldn’t use to treat your jacket. When in doubt, trust the judgement of the people who made it. Check the label, and see if they have any specific advice or instructions for you to follow. They know what they’re talking about.
Keep it Clean
There are countless tips online for keeping leather clean, but most of them should be taken with a pinch of salt. Old wives’ solutions like olive oil supposedly lift dirt out of the material, but they also run the risk of staining it further. The washing machine might sound like a quick and convenient fix, but there’s also a big chance of discolouring or even shrinking your jacket. Only do that if you’re fully confident that your jacket is resistant enough.
How to Clean a Leather Jacket
There are some methods that may be worth trying. Talcum powder is great for absorbing grease stains, while ink stains can be removed by rubbing them very gently with an artist’s eraser.
A simple solution of warm, soapy water is usually the best option. Wipe the jacket with a damp sponge before drying it with a soft cloth. Always test it somewhere inconspicuous, like one of the cuffs – if the water gets absorbed straight away, stop immediately.
How to Wash a Leather Jacket
There’s nothing better than the feeling of finding a leather jacket in great conditions in a remote rail of a vintage shop. It fits great and the price is reasonable so it’s a no brainer: you must have it. However, even if you wipe your jacket with a cloth, you won’t necessarily be able to get rid of that musky vintage shop smell. What to do then? It can be risky but leather jackets can be washed. However, this procedure will only be successful with real leather jackets! Also, avoid doing this with particularly shiny jackets with a polished finish because the coating will be more likely to crack.
By the time you jacket will be out of the washing machine, it’ll have that perfectly lived-in look. Follow these easy steps for the ultimate vintage yet clean effect.
- Throw your jacket in the washing machine zipped and inside out with a few socks, jeans or T-shirts. Those garments will absorb some of the water that your our leather jacket will naturally tend to soak up in great quantity.
- Use your usual laundry detergent and opt for a cold wash at a delicate cycle.
- When it comes to drying the jacket, throw in some drying sheets and go for medium heat. Make sure that your jacket is fully dry before taking it out. In case you’re worried about shrinking, take the jacket out a couple of minutes beforehand and flat dry it to make sure that it won’t take the shape of the hanger.
- Your jacket now will have a great lived-in look without any smell.
But Turn Down the Heat
It can be tempting to throw your jacket in a tumble dryer, or even try and use a hairdryer, but too much heat will only make the problem worse. If you don’t want to take that sort of risk, stick it somewhere room temperature that’s well-ventilated and let it dry slowly. If you want to stop it from going stiff while it dries, put it on for a minute or two and move around in it. A good leather conditioner is another great way to keep the cracks from showing.
Make sure the jacket is completely dry before it goes back in the wardrobe, or you run the risk of mildew.
Hang it Well
Wrinkled leather is not a cool look. Try to avoid folding your jacket wherever possible. Always look for a wide, padding coat hanger to put it on, and store it in a cool, dry place. If you’re carrying it around in a garment bag, make sure you choose a bag made of a breathable material like nylon to keep the jacket fresh. Try and keep it out of direct sunlight – the heat will dry out the leather, while the bright light may cause discolouration.
How to Soften Leather
With time and use, leather will tend to get stiffer. In case your jacket has been through some rough times and you’ve been somewhat lenient with your taking care of the leather, it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s tough as hell. There are many different ways to bring back some moisture and softness, one being rubbing baby oil or petroleum jelly on the fabric. However, when it comes to softening leather it’s always useful to use products specific for this material.