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How to Clean a Leather Jacket
(Without Ruining It)

You’ve invested in ahigh-quality leather jacket which has understandably become your favorite go-to item for almost any occasion—whether a crisp morning walking the fields in the backcountry, a cool night cheering for your boys under those Friday night lights, or anything in between.

But, before long (maybe after a few too many close calls with your dog and that cup of coffee) it may occur to you that you should learn how to clean a leather jacket—without ruining it. If your instincts are telling you that you can’t just toss it in the wash, well, those instincts are right.

Leather is tough, but if you don’t know how to clean a leather jacket properly, you run the risk of ruining something special. Leather requires a particular kind of care, so follow the steps below to clean and maintain your leather jacket, and enjoy it for years to come.

One Note to Start: Check the manufacturer's instructions on your jacket before you begin. In most circumstances, the manufacturer will recommend a cleaning procedure best suited for your item. Also, always spot check your method in an inconspicuous area.

How to Clean a Leather Jacket: The Basics

1. Dust the leather.

Using a soft cloth or brush, wipe away any dust or oil buildup. Always use a circular motion to help prevent any form of damage to the leather.


2. Prepare a mild soap solution.

Combine warm water with about two teaspoons of liquid detergent to create a mild, delicate solution that can be used to clean your jacket without causing damage or abrasions. When working with and cleaning leather, less is more.

Note: If you don't want to use the soap solution (especially if your jacket isn't excessively dirty), you can skip to step 4.


3. Gently clean the leather.

Soak a soft cloth or soft sponge in your mild soap solution for a few minutes. Before applying to the leather, be sure to wring out the cloth or sponge so it is somewhat damp, but not dripping wet. DO NOT RUB! Lightly blot to avoid leaving watermarks, and remember to feather your blots. The key to this cleaning approach is to use as little moisture as possible. Look for water spots, discolored patches, and areas where dirt or oil have accumulated on the leather.

4. Wipe down the jacket.

Using a clean, soft cloth, wipe down the jacket with clean water this time to remove soap residue. (Remember to use the smallest amount of moisture needed.) Make sure the jacket doesn't have any standing water on it because too much water does more harm than good. Pat the leather with a dry, soft towel, then hang the jacket somewhere cool until it is completely dry.Do notuse direct heat (like a hair dryer or direct sunlight) to try to speed up the drying time.


5. Clean the Inside.

The soap solution used for cleaning the outside of your leather jacket can also be used to clean the inside. It may not be on display, but cleaning the inside is as important as preserving the outside appearance of your jacket. Not only can odors eventually build up, but sweat on the interior of the jacket can eventually break down the lining and compromise the leather.

  • Hang the jacket inside out on a hanger.
  • Clean the inside of the jacket using a soft sponge or cloth and the same mild soap solution you used for the exterior.
  • Pay close attention to the cuffs, collars, and underarms in particular.
  • Hang the jacket to dry in a cool, dry area. (Do not use direct heat.)

How to Clean a Leather Jacket Using Leather Cleaner

If you want to clean a leather jacket with minimal effort, investing in a leather cleaner is another option. Agood leather cleaner will be uniquely designed to help remove dirt and stains and keep the leather soft and healthy.


1. Apply

Apply a small amount of leather cleaner onto the jacket. Always begin with a small amount of cleaner, and gradually increase the amount as needed.


2. Massage

Gently massage the leather cleaner into the jacket's surface using a soft, clean cloth. Slowly massage outward in a spiral with steady circular strokes. Continue until the cleaner is absorbed as much as possible.


3. Wipe

Wipe away any residual leather cleaner from the jacket with a fresh cloth. When finished, the jacket should have a clean, rich sheen to it. There's no need to rinse away leather cleaner once it's been applied because it's meant to sink into dry, chapped leather. The leather will be moisturized and maintained, allowing it to look great for months before it’s time to clean again.

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How to Clean Tough Stains on a Leather Jacket

Like it or not, if you live a lot of life with your favorite leather jacket, you will eventually experience a tough stain or two. It's best if you can get to a stain immediately, but this isn't always possible, or a stain may go unnoticed for a period of time. The following tips and materials can help get rid of the toughest stains, but as always, use care and be sure to spot check your method first.


Soap and Water

Use a soft, clean sponge and a mixture of soap and water. Wipe the sponge in a circular motion, then dab with a dry cloth. Repeat the procedure, alternating between sponge and cloth until the stain is (hopefully) gone.



Use your finger to apply non-gel toothpaste to the stain. Then, using a soft cloth, rub gently in a circular motion to cover the entire stain. Do not scrub or you may scratch or discolor the leather. Let the toothpaste sit on the stain for ten seconds and then use a soft damp cloth to rub the toothpaste off gently as the stain lifts.


Nail Polish Remover

To remove ink stains, blot the area with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. The ink may spread if you rub. Then, blot with a clean, moist cloth and gently dry with a towel.


Baking Soda, Baby Powder, or Cornstarch

Sprinkle baking soda, baby powder, or cornstarch over oil or grease stains to remove them. Using a moist cloth, gently massage the affected area. Allow the resulting paste to sit for several hours or even overnight. The oil will be absorbed by baking soda, baby powder, or starch. Then, using a clean cloth, wipe away the powder and dry with a soft towel.


Rubbing Alcohol

Do you need to remove mold from leather? Combine one part rubbing alcohol and one part water in a mixing bowl. Wipe the affected area with a dampened cloth soaked in the alcohol solution. Clean with another moist cloth. This should move mildew as well.


If the stain persists, it's time to call in the pros. And remember, what may work for one type of leather jacket may not be best for another, so conducting a spot test on an inconspicuous area would be advisable before using any of the above suggestions.

Finally, If your jacket is looking a little dull, you can use a small amount ofleather conditioner or upholstery wax with a soft cloth to buff out the leather.

Knowing how to clean a leather jacket the right way and maintaining it properly will keep it looking great for years to come. Be sure to shop our collection ofleather jackets—you may just find your new favorite.

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