Just like any piece of clothing, leather jackets need to be cleaned as well. Especially the lining, which is the closest to your skin and absorbs your sweat, oils, and odors. Looking good in a leather jacket is great, but it can really take away from the whole outfit if it doesn’t smell right.
It might be daunting to clean it yourself as leather jackets are an expensive item. Worry not though, here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your leather jacket’s lining at home.
What to avoid
Before we get into the methods, it’s best to know what not to do. There are many things you can do, but it’s avoiding bad practices that can prevent you from ruining your leather piece.
Harsh detergents and bleaches
Always use detergents made for delicate clothing and never use bleach. Regular detergents will increase the risk of damaging the fabric used on the liner. It is also very difficult to avoid not letting the detergent touch the back side of the leather, detergents will dry out leather very quickly and strip its protective oils away.
Bleaches should be outright avoided for leather. They are incredibly harsh and will immediately stain your leather permanently.
Heavy bristled brushes
To avoid the liner from fraying or breaking any weaves on the fabric, it is best to use soft-bristled brushes. Brushes that use hard, sharp plastic bristles can destroy and weaken your jacket’s lining. We recommend animal hair brushes or a very soft toothbrush.
Humid, poorly ventilated rooms
Since you will be getting your jacket wet, it is best to dry it in a room or area that is cool, dry, and well-ventilated. The moisture that the leather has absorbed and the dark, warm, moist environment in between the liner and the leather is perfect for mold to grow and form. To avoid this, it is best to dry your leather garment in the right environment.
How to clean leather jacket lining and remove stains
Leather jackets are meant to be kept for years, and within that long period of time, stains are almost impossible to avoid. If you are unfortunate enough to have the inner lining of your jacket stained, here is how you can remove stains on the inside of your jacket.
Things you will need:
- Soft cloth or soft-bristled brush
- Clean sponge for removing the soapy water
- Mild laundry detergent
- Turn your leather jacket inside out and remove any dust and debris hiding inside.
- Create a 1% detergent to water mixture. You can also do this by adding 1 teaspoon of detergent to 2 cups of water.
- Take a cleaning cloth or a soft-bristled brush and dip it into the mixture.
- Rub the cloth or brush onto the most problematic areas first. You may add extra focus on the armpits, collar, and wrists as these hold a lot of body oils.
- When you are finished, remove the excess soapy water on the lining with a clean sponge or dry towel by pressing firmly on the area and giving it time to absorb into the damp cloth.
- Hang your leather jacket and let it dry in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated room.
Tips and extra information:
- If you’re dealing with tough stains like ink stains, oil stains, or similar, you may use a bleach pen. Bleach pens can apply a concentration of bleach to the desired area safely without the risk of spilling. Do not use the bleach pen on the leather, only on the lining.
How to get rid of smells without washing your jacket
Washing your jacket can be an especially tedious and time-consuming task. Especially having to get it wet and wait for it to dry out. If you’re only dealing with a bad-smelling jacket, thankfully there are ways to remove or lessen the odor without having to go through a whole washing ritual. Follow these simple steps to remove bad smells from your leather jacket.
A vinegar spray might be your best friend and may become your new deodorant for your leather jacket’s liner. You can even bring this with you in case your jacket smells bad and you need to quickly hide the scent.
Things you will need:
- Spray bottle
- White vinegar
- Essential oils (optional)
- Turn your leather jacket inside out and lay it on a flat surface or hang it.
- Mix equal parts white vinegar and water into your spray bottle.
- Proceed to spray your jacket lightly. Do not overspray or else your jacket will smell of vinegar instead.
- Do not wear your leather jacket immediately or else it might worsen the smell. Let your jacket dry and air out first for a few minutes.
Tips and extra information:
- You may add a few drops of essential oils that you like to the solution of vinegar to combat the scent of vinegar.
- You may also substitute the vinegar for a few drops of essential oils instead, however, this might only mask the scent instead of getting rid of it.
- Avoid letting the mixture touch the leather, vinegar is not good for leather.
You may also use lemon juice, a tablespoon of pure lemon juice to 1-2 cups of water in a spray bottle will be a great weapon against bad odors. Lemon naturally kills bacteria that cause those bad odors, you can use this spray and focus on those especially stubborn areas like the armpit and collar. It also has the added benefit of smelling like lemon as well.
Baking soda is a great way to remove odors if you don’t like dealing with liquids and getting your lining damp or wait for the misted area to dry off. This is a completely dry method, although it does deal with baking soda powder, so it may be a bit messy.
Things you will need:
- Large plastic bag, or garbage bag
- Baking soda
- Turn your jacket inside out and make sure everything is dry, especially the leather side as getting the baking soda wet can affect the leather upon contact.
- Place your jacket inside the bag.
- Pour some baking soda into the bag, and use about half a cup or a large fistful.
- Shake the bag and massage the lining to make sure the baking soda gets all over the entire jacket.
- Wait about 10-20 minutes for the baking soda to absorb the odors.
- Remove the jacket and dust off as much baking soda as you can.
Tips and extra information:
- Baking soda can leave stains on leather if it touches any excess water like leftover raindrops that the baking soda can absorb. Make sure to dry the leather thoroughly.
How to safely use a washing machine to clean your leather jacket
Machine washing for any leather goods isn’t really recommended. If you need to deep clean your leather jacket, it is best to take it to the dry cleaners and have it professionally cleaned . You may also take it to a professional cleaner that is experienced in leather. Besides, you only need to do this once or twice a year.
However, if you really insist on using your washing machine on your leather jacket, then it is best to read the information below to avoid damaging your leather jacket.
Turn your jacket inside out
To avoid the leather from being exposed to too much external stress from the washing machine, turn it inside out. Besides, you’re mainly trying to wash the fabric so it is best to have that be exposed to the washing machine instead of the leather. Close all the zippers and buttons as well to avoid any tearing or snagging that might occur.
Suede jackets are especially sensitive to harsh washing, the fibers may easily fray and break when it is not turned inside out.
Use a laundry bag
Laundry bags are the bare minimum protection you can do to ensure that your leather jacket doesn’t get damaged. Laundry bags are cheap, but leather jackets are not.
Use the kindest settings
Always use room-temperature or cold settings, if your washing machine also has the capability to turn off its spin cycle, that would be better. If you cannot turn off the spin cycle, use the most gentle cycle.
Drying and hanging
As mentioned above, always dry in a cool, dry room. It is also best to hang your leather jacket using a sturdy hanger or a broad hanger as the wider shoulders will avoid the shoulder area from being stretched.
Avoid any harsh type of heat source as well. Sunlight, blow dryers, and the like may dry out your leather jacket too quickly. Even if you’re just using it on the lining, you may have gotten the back side of the leather wet as well.
Always condition after drying
When it is dry, make sure to apply leather conditioner as the washing machine has definitely stripped the protective oils away from the leather . If you skip this, you will risk cracking and severely drying out your leather.
Leather jackets should always be taken care of, inside and out. We all talk about how to take care of leather and how to make it last as long as possible. However, we may miss out on the inner lining of our leather products until we notice it too late. It either smells bad or it’s noticeably dirty, the lining is what hides the back of the leather, so it is best to keep it clean as well.
It is best to pay attention to our leather goods completely, not just their leather exterior. We hope these methods have helped you achieve a cleaner and better-smelling leather jacket that you can wear with confidence again.
Why does my leather jacket smell?
Clothes smell for many reasons, that may include bodily oils which produce musty smells, but if it’s an especially bad smell, it is very likely to be bacteria. Leather jackets are not washed often, and dark, warm, and moist environments are where bacteria thrive the most. That’s why the armpit area smells the worst.
Is water used in dry cleaning?
Dry cleaning isn’t really dry in layman’s terms as it does involve liquid. However, it is considered dry because it doesn’t involve any water, or at least as very little of it as possible. The most commonly used solvent used in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene, however, it is a pollutant and is being phased out for other alternatives.