Ultimate Guide: Expert Tips for Cleaning Your Leather Jacket

How to Wash a Leather Jacket

Leather jackets are stylish and timeless garments that require proper care to maintain their longevity and appearance. Whether you’ve spilled something on your jacket or it’s simply time for a thorough cleaning, knowing how to wash a leather jacket is essential. In this article, we will guide you through the process of cleaning and maintaining your leather jacket to ensure it stays in pristine condition for years to come.

Understanding Leather Jackets

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand the nature of leather jackets. Leather is a durable and flexible material made from animal hide, with each type of leather possessing unique properties. Common types of leather used in jackets include cowhide, lambskin, and goatskin. These materials vary in texture, thickness, and grain patterns, offering distinct characteristics to different jackets.

Preparing for Washing

Before you begin washing your leather jacket, there are a few important steps to take. First, check the care label on the jacket for any specific cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer. It’s crucial to follow these guidelines to avoid damaging the leather. Next, gather the necessary supplies, including a soft cloth, mild leather cleaner, lukewarm water, a sponge or soft brush, and a leather conditioner.

Spot Cleaning and Maintenance

Regular maintenance and spot cleaning are essential to keep your leather jacket looking its best. If you notice any stains or spills, it’s important to address them promptly. Start by blotting the affected area with a clean cloth to absorb any excess liquid. Avoid rubbing the stain, as it may cause it to spread. For sticky substances, gently scrape them off with a dull knife or credit card.

how to wash leather jacket

Hand Washing a Leather Jacket

Hand washing is the preferred method for cleaning a leather jacket, as it allows for more control and reduces the risk of damage. To hand wash your jacket, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water.
  2. Add a small amount of mild leather cleaner to the water and mix until it creates a gentle soapy solution.
  3. Submerge the jacket in the water and gently agitate it to loosen any dirt or grime.
  4. Use a soft sponge or brush to lightly scrub the jacket, paying extra attention to stained or soiled areas.
  5. Rinse the jacket thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of soap.
  6. Gently squeeze out excess water from the jacket, being careful not to wring or twist it.
  7. Lay the jacket flat on a clean towel and gently shape it back to its original form.
  8. Allow the jacket to air dry in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Avoid using a hairdryer or placing it near a heater, as excessive heat can cause the leather to crack or become stiff.
  9. Once the jacket is completely dry, apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and maintain its softness. Follow the instructions on the conditioner and use a clean cloth to gently massage it into the leather, focusing on areas that tend to dry out, such as elbows and cuffs.

Machine Washing a Leather Jacket

Machine washing a leather jacket is not recommended, as it can cause significant damage to the material. However, if your jacket’s care label indicates that it is machine washable, follow these precautions and guidelines:

  1. Check the care label to ensure that machine washing is suitable for your jacket. If there are any specific instructions, follow them carefully.
  2. Use a front-loading washing machine, as they are typically gentler on delicate fabrics.
  3. Place the jacket inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect it from friction and potential damage.
  4. Use a mild detergent specifically designed for delicate fabrics and set the machine to a gentle cycle with cold water.
  5. After the wash cycle is complete, remove the jacket from the machine and gently reshape it to its original form.
  6. Follow the drying and conditioning steps mentioned earlier to ensure proper care and maintain the leather’s integrity.

Storing and Maintaining Leather Jackets

Proper storage and regular maintenance are crucial to extend the lifespan of your leather jacket. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Store your leather jacket in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid storing it in plastic bags, as this can trap moisture and lead to mold or mildew growth. Instead, use a breathable garment bag or wrap it in a cotton sheet.
  2. Avoid hanging your leather jacket on sharp or narrow hooks, as they can cause deformations. Opt for wide, padded hangers to maintain its shape.
  3. Regularly inspect your jacket for any signs of wear, such as loose stitches or scuffs. Address any issues promptly to prevent further damage.
  4. Keep your leather jacket away from heat sources, as excessive heat can cause the leather to dry out and crack.
  5. Periodically clean and condition your jacket following the methods mentioned earlier to keep it supple and protected.

Professional Cleaning

While regular maintenance can go a long way in preserving your leather jacket, there may be instances where professional cleaning is necessary. Consider professional cleaning in the following situations:

  1. If your leather jacket has stubborn stains or discoloration that cannot be removed through spot cleaning.
  2. If your jacket has undergone extensive wear and tear, such as deep scratches or fading.
  3. If you’re unsure about the proper cleaning method for your specific leather jacket and want to ensure it receives the best care.

When seeking professional cleaning services, choose a reputable cleaner experienced in handling leather garments. Ask for recommendations or read reviews to ensure they have a good track record.


Taking care of your leather jacket is essential to maintain its appearance and longevity. By understanding the properties of leather, preparing for washing, spot cleaning, and choosing the appropriate cleaning method, you can ensure that your jacket stays in excellent condition for years to come. Remember to store it properly, perform regular maintenance, and consider professional cleaning when needed. With proper care, your leather jacket will continue to be a timeless wardrobe staple.


Can I use regular soap to wash my leather jacket

No, regular soap can be too harsh and may damage the leather. It’s best to use a mild leather cleaner specifically formulated for cleaning and conditioning leather jackets.

How often should I clean my leather jacket?

The frequency of cleaning depends on factors such as how often you wear the jacket and the level of dirt or stains it accumulates. As a general rule, aim to clean your leather jacket at least once or twice a year, or whenever it becomes visibly dirty or stained.

Can I iron my leather jacket to remove wrinkles?

No, ironing leather is not recommended as the high heat can cause the leather to scorch or melt. Instead, hang your jacket in a steamy bathroom or use a garment steamer to help release wrinkles.

What should I do if my leather jacket gets we

If your leather jacket gets wet, gently dab off any excess moisture with a clean cloth and allow it to air dry naturally. Avoid using heat sources or hairdryers, as they can cause the leather to shrink or crack. Once dry, follow the conditioning steps mentioned earlier to restore moisture.

Can I use a hairdryer to speed up the drying process?

It’s best to avoid using a hairdryer to dry your leather jacket, as the direct heat can damage the leather. Instead, allow it to air dry naturally in a well-ventilated area.

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