How to Clean & Dry Real & Faux Leather Jacket At Home

Leather jackets may not be high maintenance since you don’t need to wash them as often as you would in normal clothes. However, it does need to be cleaned and washed carefully every now and then to remove stains, molds, or even unwanted smells that stick to it. This article will talk about everything you need to know about disinfecting and cleaning different types of leather materials at home.

Can you wash a leather jacket?

Yes, you can wash a leather jacket. However, don’t use a washing machine. Just handwash it using mild detergents and don’t rub it harshly. Avoid brushes with hard bristles and always dry them out properly.

Can I put a leather jacket in the dryer?

The dryer is too harsh for leather jackets. The heat in the dryer will dry out and increase the risk of cracks. Air drying should be the only method for your leather jacket.

How often should a leather jacket be cleaned?

It depends on how often you wear your leather jacket. If you wear it more than once every week, we recommend cleaning it every 6 months or less. However, if you only wear your leather jacket around once or twice a month, it can be cleaned and conditioned once a year. If there are stains, you should immediately remove them so they won’t absorb into the leather fibers.

Cleaning and disinfecting methods for different materials

Full-grain and top-grain leather

Full-grain and top-grain leather jackets are a great find anywhere you buy them. They can be quite expensive when brand-new in retail stores, so you need to know how to properly clean and care for them. Fortunately, you can always clean up your real leather jacket to make it seem brand-new and you won’t have to spend a fortune on it.

Things you will need:

Steps:

  1. Inspect your real leather jacket for any stains. You can remove the stains using a 50/50 mix of cold water and white distilled vinegar and a cleaning sponge.
  2. After removing the stain, follow it up with a dry soft cloth.
  3. Apply leather conditioner after cleaning the entire surface of the leather jacket.
  4. If you want to go for a deeper cleaning for your high-quality and real leather item, you can opt for professional dry cleaning services. In our other article, we talked about dry cleaning your leather jacket and how often you should do this.

Suede

Suede has a velvety texture made from the softer underside of animal hide so naturally, you have to be more gentle when cleaning your leather item made from suede. The most important thing you should remember is not to use water to clean suede because it will make it less supple and may change its color.

Things you will need:

Steps:

  1. Use a suede brush or eraser for simple cleaning if it’s not too dirty. For deeper cleaning, go for the suede eraser.
  2. If your suede leather jacket has stains, use rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to rub the area with stains gently. Use a suede brush to add texture again after the stain is removed.
  3. After making sure that your suede jacket is thoroughly cleaned, spray on some water-repellent spray to prevent it from getting water stains in the future.
  4. Leave it to air dry in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight.

Fur Lining

Leather jackets with fur lining can be a bit high-maintenance because it will require you to clean them more often than jackets with all leather material. Cleaning a fur-lined leather jacket at home might not be enough to deeply clean it, but you can still give it a try.

Things you will need:

Steps:

  1. Mix cool water with mild laundry detergent.
  2. Submerge your leather jacket with fur lining in the detergent solution. We recommend only soaking the fur and not the entire leather jacket since water is not generally good on leather for long periods of time.
  3. Lift the jacket out and gently squeeze out the soapy water. Drain your basin and replace it with clean water.
  4. Rinse your jacket until there are no detergent suds left.
  5. Using the bath towel, gently press it on the fur linings while soaking as much water as possible.
  6. Leave it to dry in a well-ventilated room using a padded hanger.
  7. After it’s dry, use the wide-toothed comb to untangle some knots on the fur lining.

Cotton Lining

For leather jackets with cotton linings, you can wash them normally as you would with your hands, but with extra care. We don’t recommend using a washing machine for this even though it is made up of cotton as it may still damage the leather on the outside part. You can follow the same steps with the fur lining, but without needing to brush it.

Faux leather

There are a lot of faux leather jackets that you can find in retail stores and the great thing about them is they are fairly easy to clean. You can also read the care labels on the faux leather jacket as some of them might be machine washable. If not, you can follow these steps at home:

Things you will need:

Steps:

  1. Inspect your faux leather items for any stains. Try using a soft cloth and dampen it with warm water to remove surface stains.
  2. When removing stains, start from the outer edge moving toward the center of the stain to avoid it from spreading.
  3. Use a gentle detergent and a soft cloth to remove tougher stains. You can also use olive or coconut oil, but you need to be extra cautious as this can cause some staining on your faux leather jacket.
  4. As always, use leather conditioner as aftercare to bring back the suppleness of your leather jacket.
  5. Faux leather tends to peel over time especially when it’s not taken care of. If you want to learn how to handle this, you can check out our other article on how to fix peeling on faux leather jackets.

Tips and extra information:

  • If your faux leather jacket has ink or dye stains, use rubbing alcohol and a cotton swab (proceed with caution!).

Drying your leather jacket

As we mentioned above, we don’t recommend putting your leather jacket in the dryer. This means that in order to dry your leather jacket properly, you will need to be patient and not rush the process. Here are two ways you can dry your leather jacket without damaging them:

Clean towel method

This method is pretty straightforward. After washing your leather jacket, get a dry and fresh towel and gently pat it on your wet leather item to remove excess water. Remember not to drag the towel across the leather material and only do patting motions to avoid ruining the fibers. Once your jacket reaches the point of being damp, you can leave it to dry naturally.

Use a sturdy hanger

For this drying method, you will need a wide padded hanger, preferably made out of wood that can withstand the weight of your leather jacket. Just hang your wet leather jacket in an area with proper ventilation and away from direct sunlight or heat. It will take a bit of time to fully dry your leather jacket, but rest assured that this is the safest way to do it.

Cleaning different colored leather jackets

Different colors don’t necessarily mean you need to follow specific cleaning methods when it comes to leather jackets. However, to avoid leather discoloration, we suggest you follow these steps in cleaning dark and light-colored leather jackets.

Black leather jackets

Black leather jackets are the most common color among leather jackets and they don’t require special cleaning methods. You can use the 50/50 water and white vinegar solution to clean it, but remember not to spray it directly on the leather. Instead, spray the solution on a soft cleaning cloth before wiping it on the leather material.

Brown leather jackets

Compared to black leather jackets, stains are more noticeable in brown-colored leather items. You can opt for using a mild detergent in cleaning your brown leather jacket as white vinegar and oil solutions can leave stains that might be noticeable in brown leather.

White leather jackets

In cleaning white leather jackets, we recommend just using toothpaste for manageable stains. You don’t need to soak your entire leather jacket or use vinegar, soap, and oil. Just dab a bit of toothpaste on the stain and scrub it away using a soft-bristled toothbrush. As usual, wipe the area clean with a soft cloth after.

Tips and extra information:

  • To maintain the pristine condition of your white leather jacket, avoid exposing it to nicotine and cigarette smoke or smoke in general. Nicotine stains may be manageable in darker-colored leather items, but it will definitely and clearly show in white leather.

Dealing with stains

Stains can be pesky to deal with. Don’t use bleach, however, as this will only worsen the problem and bleach stains are pretty much impossible to remove unless you redye the jacket. If the stains are very deep, you might want to consider reading our article about dyeing your jacket black.

Bleach pens for stains in the lining

If you want to remove stains from the lining, you can do so by using a bleach pen. Bleach pens avoid spilling bleach everywhere, just make sure not to get it on the leather.

Acetone for leather

Acetone is commonly used to redye leather shoes and strip them down for deeper restoration work. You may use acetone, but don’t pour it directly on the leather. Use cotton balls to soak up the acetone and rub it onto the stain in circular motions. You should also have matching dye ready and leather conditioner to finish it up. Test it on a small, inconspicuous area of your jacket first!

Baking soda for oil stains

Oil stains can be removed by using a baking soda paste. Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with enough water to make it into a paste. Use a toothbrush to rub that on until the stain lessens or disappears. Baking soda will still dry out the leather so conditioning afterward is important.

Removing mold from leather

To remove mold from your leather jacket, you can use a white vinegar or alcohol mixture. These mixtures are great at penetrating deep into the leather fibers, so they can remove leather mold that has been there for a long time. If you want an in-depth discussion about mold removal for this, you can check out our other article on how to clean and protect your leather jacket from mold.

Conclusion

It might seem overwhelming to see all the leather cleaning and disinfecting methods at first. You might even think that it’s better to just send it to a professional dry cleaner, and you can do that if you want. However, if you want to save a few bucks you can follow the steps we mentioned above using items that are readily available to you. We hope that this article is comprehensive yet simple enough to guide you on how to clean and wash your leather jacket.

FAQ

How do professionals clean leather jackets?

Professional dry cleaners are experts when it comes to knowing leather types and the specific methods that are needed for each. They use methods such as steam cleaning or solvent cleaning depending on the amount of dirt there is in your leather jacket.