Can You Wash Leather Jackets?

Leather jackets have been popular since the 1940s, but they aren't immune to dirt and dust like any item of clothing. So if you're wondering whether you can wash your leather jacket, you've come to the right place. We've researched the best way to wash a leather jacket and have the method for you.

The best method for cleaning your leather jacket is to spot clean it with warm water, dish soap, and a damp cloth. For more stubborn areas of dirt, use a leather cleaning solution or a homemade cleaning solution consisting of vinegar and water. 

Now you have a general idea about washing your leather jacket, but keep reading as we discuss why this method is best. We'll also answer some other questions you might have about cleaning your leather jacket.

Leather jacket dude smiling and looking away, Can You Wash Leather Jackets?

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Washing A Leather Jacket

variety of leather jackets closeup

As you probably know, there are three main ways to clean an item of clothing. You can machine wash, hand wash, or spot clean. Which method you choose will typically depend on the material of your clothing. Most clothing items will have a label with cleaning directions on it. You should check the label first for guidance.

Leather can be easily damaged, so the safest method to clean your jacket is to spot clean it with a damp cloth. Create a solution of warm water and a mild dish soap. Submerge a clean cloth into the solution and wring the cloth so that it is damp. If it needs a deeper clean, apply a leather cleaning solution or a homemade solution of one part vinegar with one part water. Ensure to wipe off any cleaning solution with another clean cloth and dry the jacket with a towel.

Click here to see Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner and Leather Conditioner Kit on Amazon.

What happens to leather in the washing machine?

The jury is out on whether it is safe to put a leather jacket in a washing machine. While some sites say you should never put a leather jacket in the washing machine, others have and enjoyed the results. If you choose to machine wash your jacket, be aware that it is a very risky choice.

Leather can crack, become discolored, or shrink in the washing machine.

Before placing it in the washer, zip it up and turn it inside out. You should also make sure the washing machine is on a very delicate quick wash. Putting your leather jacket through the washing machine will make it look more worn and lived in. Some people want this look to be achieved. If you would rather keep it looking shiny and new, you should avoid this cleaning method.

After washing the jacket, be careful using a dryer to dry it. Take it out in short intervals, put it on and stretch it out if you need to. This can help prevent it from shrinking too much.

Can you soak a leather jacket in water?

As with machine washing your leather jacket, whether you can soak your leather jacket in water is also up for debate. While some swear that leather should never be submerged in water, others swear by cleaning their jacket in a large tub of water.

You should be very careful handwashing your jacket by submerging it in water. Water can make leather very brittle, as soaking a leather jacket will remove its natural oils.  However, submerging it in water to clean it will be more gentle than putting it through the washer.

If you choose to soak your leather jacket in water, be prepared for it to not come out the same as it went in. Make sure to zip up the jacket and turn it inside out before you soak it. Hang dry the jacket away from any heat sources as heat can damage the leather.

Whenever a leather jacket gets wet, whether it's by soaking it in the water yourself or from the rain, you should use a leather conditioner to help restore its softness.

Click here to see Leather Honey Leather Conditioner on Amazon.

How often should you clean a leather jacket?

You should spot clean your leather jacket as it gets dirty. Wipe it with a damp cloth as soon as you notice the soiled spot. If you spill oil or another chemical on your jacket, you should take it to a professional cleaner as soon as you can.

For more general cleaning, you should clean and condition it at least once a year. It's a good idea to do it before you store your jacket for the summer. If you wear it frequently, you should increase your cleanings to twice a year around every six months.

What is a natural cleaner for leather?

You can create leather cleaner from natural items you probably have in your house. However, you should be very careful doing this as you don't want to damage your item. Before cleaning your leather with a homemade solution, make sure to check for any labels with cleaning instructions. If it instructs you to take it to a professional, you should.

Be sure to test your cleaner in a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to any more visible areas of your jacket. Some natural cleaners for leather include white vinegar, lemon juice, natural oils such as olive, coconut, or walnut, and even banana peel.

Click here to see Happy Belly Distilled Vinegar on Amazon.

If you choose white vinegar, create a 50-50 solution with distilled water. Oil can be paired with lemon juice in a 2-1 ratio, respectively, and banana peel can be used by itself. All you have to do is rub the inside of the peel against the leather. The banana peel might leave some residue behind, so be sure to wipe off any remaining residue with a clean cloth.

For a natural conditioner, try beeswax. Heat it until it is softened, and apply it using a microfiber cloth. Wipe away any excess with a clean cloth.

Click here to see All-Natural Beeswax Leather Cream on Amazon.

How do you make an old leather jacket look like new?

Leather cream and a wooden brush on leather

If your jacket is looking old and worn, don't throw it out right away, there are some things you can try to revitalize it and make it look new again.

Clean The Jacket

Begin by cleaning it. First, give it a good brush down with a horsehair brush. This will help remove any lint or dust. Then, follow one of our methods above to give it a good clean!

Condition Your Leather

Next, you should try conditioning it. Conditioning your leather can give it a much-needed boost of moisture and help restore some of its color. Use a leather conditioner or beeswax. To ensure the conditioner changes the color to something you want, test it in a small hidden area first.

Fix The Form

If your leather jacket looks like it has lost its original form, hang it on a sturdy wooden hanger. This can help restore it to its original shape.

Get Rid Of Scratches

If you have small scratches, gently massage them with the tip of your finger. The heat from your finger, the motion, and the pressure can help make smaller scratches disappear.

For more prominent scratches, try using the heat from a blow dryer. Don't have the heat set too hot, though. Leather doesn't do well with high heat, and you may do more harm than good.

If you've tried all of these tricks and your jacket doesn't look any better, it may be time to get a new jacket. Leather jackets are good investments and can last for years if taken care of. If you buy a new jacket, be sure to take care of it with regular cleanings and conditioning. Hang it on an appropriately-sized hanger when not in use, and you'll have your jacket for years to come!

Final Thoughts

Leather jacket dude smiling and looking away, Can You Wash Leather Jackets?

Hopefully, our article has helped answer whether you can wash a leather jacket and give you some ideas on how to clean yours. Good luck!

If you have a faux leather jacket, check out our other blog post for tips on how to clean it:  How To Wash A Faux Leather Jacket [4 Easy Steps] or if you have a leather purse, check out this post: How To Clean A White Leather Purse [6 Effective Methods]

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