Leather Care and Maintenance

Buying a genuine leather jacket is an investment in a piece of high quality clothing that should last many years with proper maintenance. With proper care, you can extend the life of a jacket nearly indefinitely, keeping your outerwear looking fantastic for a lifetime.

General Leather Care Guidelines:

  • Read the label on your jacket, which often has leather jacket care instructions to follow.
  • If your jacket is truly water resistant, clean it with a slightly damp cloth. If the leather darkens when doing this, don't use any water at all.
  • Use a dry, cotton cloth to gently dust your leather jacket, especially when it's been sitting in the closet, unused, over a period of time.
  • Always hang your leather jacket on a clothes hanger and not on a clothes peg, which places too much stress on that area where it's hung.
  • Keep your jacket away from direct heat sources, like sunlight and heating vents to prevent it drying out and cracking.
  • Don't store your leather jacket over the summer in a plastic dry-cleaning bag or under plastic sheeting of any kind. Leather needs to breathe. Placing it in a closet is fine, unless that closet is extremely hot or too damp.
  • Store your jacket away from pesticides, as the leather can absorb the odors from these toxins. This also applies to mothballs and other home insecticides.
  • Before you store your leather jacket away for long periods of time, have it professionally dry cleaned to remove any pests or odors that may be lingering.

Protect Your Leather Jacket

Keep in mind that, although your leather jacket may now be resistant to water damage, it will not be completely waterproof. You'll want to ensure your coat is water resistant should you get caught in a rainstorm or snow showers.

Leather jacket care begins with treating your coat with a leather protectant product that helps the material's surface to resist water. You may have to re-apply the spray once every few weeks or every few months. Do not ever submerge your jacket in water or try to wash it in a washing machine. Take your jacket to a leather specialist or possibly a dry cleaner that has experience working with leather.

Use a Leather Conditioner

Even top grain leather jackets need to be conditioned with a special type of oil every now and then to keep the material supple. Use mink oil, neatsfoot oil or other types of natural animal oils to prevent your jacket from cracking and drying out. Be sure not to overdo the use of these conditioners though, as putting too much on can clog the leather's pores and make the item begin to feel stiff.

Check the label before you purchase a conditioner for leather jacket care. Make sure it's appropriate for your type of material, whether it's suede, for example. Keep in mind that products containing waxes or silicone can dry out the leather, so use these conditioners sparingly. Also, do not use mineral oil and petroleum-based products, which can damage your leather jacket.

Polish and Shine

If your leather has lost its original sheen, use a polish specially made to return a glossy look to your jacket. Take care with polishes, however, as they have been known to discolor some types of leather. Try the polish out first on a small hidden patch of the leather to check on the results. Apply the polish and then buff the area with a cloth until you obtain the amount of shine you desire.

Do not polish suede or any other type of leather that has a soft, fluffy texture. Polishing material like suede can cause permanent damage to the leather.

Do not use shoe polish. This is sometimes mistakenly used because the label may say it's meant for leather shoes, but the same is not true of leather jackets.

Clean Your Leather Jacket

Sometimes during the winter months, white salt deposits may form on the material if exposed to high salt environments. Simply wipe the salt off with a damp cloth as soon as you notice it, so no dry spots or cracks can develop. Let the jacket air dry indoors. When dry, apply leather conditioner on the affected area to add softness back into the material.

If there is visible grime on your jacket, we recommend first using a soft brush or dry sponge to gently remove the material. Do not ever scratch or use sharp edges, as it will damage the leather. If all else fails, art gum eraser rubbed over the area is an effective method, especially on suede.

For suede leather, a special brush is available specifically for that material, as it is more delicate than other types of leather.

What To Do About a Wet Leather Jacket

Your jacket has gotten wet out in the rain or other weather condition, don’t panic. As soon as you get indoors, place the jacket on a sturdy hanger and let it air dry at room temperature. Do not attempt to place the jacket in a clothes dryer or to blow-dry it with a hair product. Take out any items sitting in the pockets so that the wet leather doesn't stretch. Keep the item away from heat sources such as radiators or hot air vents. After it's dry, apply conditioner to the leather jacket if the material had become extremely wet.

Getting Rid of Wrinkles

Sometimes your leather jacket will develop wrinkles, especially if it's been haphazardly thrown about or hung improperly. To prevent wrinkles from occurring, always store your jacket on a clothes hanger, which will remove any minor wrinkling that has occurred. For major wrinkles, bring your jacket to a professional leather cleaner. To avoid that expense, you may try ironing the jacket beneath a cloth with a clothes iron set to its lowest setting. Give the cloth a quick ironing and check the results.