How to care for your leather jacket

A leather jacket’s like a good book – it gets better with age and the more you use it, the more you’ll love it. Nothing beats the look and fit of a jacket that’s been decently worn in and leather is especially attractive for the way it tells the story of its use by developing a patina that’s unique to you.

However, leather can be tricky to clean and maintain. Even dry cleaners need specialist equipment and processes in order to handle most leather items. That said, we believe the best cleaning remedies are at home – here are a few pointers that will help you get the most from your second skin…

clean leather jackets
Wear them mean, keep them clean

Always air dry leather

Leather jackets offer great protection in the rain, especially if you give them an occasional treatment of waterproofing wax or spray. But after the clouds are gone, how can you make sure the soaking you’ve suffered doesn’t leave its mark on your armour?

Thankfully there’s a straightforward answer – simply wipe the surface down with a dry cloth, then hang the jacket in an airy location so that it dries slowly and naturally. DON’T, whatever you do, throw it in the tumble drier or try to spot-dry it with a hairdryer.

Clean leather with an artist’s eraser

Whether you’ve taken a tumble on your motorbike or returned from a festival, mud and other grimy stains can be a serious issue for leather jackets. What happens when sponging down your jacket fails?

Oddly, the solution lies in your local art supply shops, where you’ll find a flexible putty commonly called ‘artist’s eraser’. It’s different from other forms of erasers in that it crumbles apart once it picks up dirt (or paint) from leather (or canvas). Just give your jacket a brush down afterwards.

Store leather jackets properly

Unlike most fabrics, which can be shoved in plastic bags for long periods and given a quick wash if they smell musty, leather needs to breathe if it’s to be kept in tip-top shape. Heavier items such as leather coats or motorcycle jackets can also lose their shape if not hung correctly.

To get the most from your leather jacket or coat, hang it in a wardrobe where air can circulate and it isn’t exposed to direct sunlight (which can fade the colour). Keep it on a broad hanger that fills the shoulders, too.

Use the right leather conditioner

It’s a hassle maintaining leather through sprays, waxes and treatments but it really does pay dividends when it comes to preserving the lustre. But not all treatments are suitable for all types of leather, so let’s find one that suits you.

Check the care label for information about what sort of leather your coat is made of before buying any treatments – find out whether it’s suede, nubuck, aniline or pigmented leather. Choose a wax which suits the colour and type of leather then (we’d suggest) test it on a discrete area; under the collar, for example.

For an in-depth read on the best ways to clean leather at home, we’d highly recommend Tips Bulletin.