Leather is a complicated substance, but taking care of it doesn’t have to be. Take some time to learn about caring for leather jackets, follow these best practices, and you’ll only need to use the occasional treatment to keep your jacket supple and attractive.
1. Make your leather water resistant. There are many “leather protector” or “leather waterproofing” products, but read the label carefully before buying. A silicone polymer spray, or an acrylic copolymer spray, should preserve your leather’s appearance and shine. Grease-based or wax-based products are more protective, but not recommended for jackets due to their potential effect on color, longevity, shine, and smell. Check the label on your product to find out how long the water resistance lasts. Typically, the product needs to be re-applied once every several weeks or months.
* While this treatment will make the leather jacket resistant to water damage, it will not be fully waterproof, even if the treatment claims otherwise. Never immerse a leather jacket in water or place it in a washing machine.
2. Polish smooth leather jackets on rare occasions. Leather polish will bring a shine to your jacket, but has the potential to discolor, dry out, or clog the leather surface. Use this for special occasions, and test on a hidden area first before using a new product. Buff with a cloth until a glossy surface is created.
* Do not polish suede or other leather with a soft, fuzzy texture. It is not possible to make suede glossy without permanently removing this texture
* Don’t use shoe polish, even if it is intended for leather shoes.
3. Let wet leather air dry. If your jacket gets wet, hang it evenly on a hanger to dry at room temperature. Remove objects from the pockets to avoid stretching the wet leather, and keep it away from direct heat sources, such as radiators or airing cupboards. Apply conditioner after drying, if the leather had become thoroughly soaked.
4. Read the tag for specific instructions. Almost all leather jackets sold in stores include a tag describing how to clean the jacket. Because there are many varieties of leather, not all of them distinguishable to the naked eye, follow the specific instructions on the label whenever possible. The steps below are generally safe if followed thoroughly, but no method is guaranteed to work safely on all leather.
5. Dust the jacket with a gentle brush or cloth. If your leather jacket has been left in the closet for a while, it may need dusting. To avoid scuffing or damaging the leather, use a dry cotton cloth, nubuck cloth, or camel hair brush
6. Remove mold with rubbing alcohol or mild soap. If a leather jacket is covered in mold, which usually appears as a white or grey fuzz, mix equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Gently wipe off the mold using a cotton cloth dampened with this solution. If that is unsuccessful, try a mild, germicidal soap mixed with water instead. Wipe off excess liquid with a dry cotton cloth once you’re done.
7. Take the jacket to a dry cleaner specializing in leather. If the above methods do not remove a stain from your jacket, take it to a dry cleaner that specifically advertises leather-cleaning services. Always ask whether the dry cleaner knows how to treat the type of leather and stain before handing your jacket over.
* Never wash a leather garment in a washing machine or washtub.
8. Keep away from direct sunlight and heat. Direct sunlight can fade the leather’s color or cause spotty discoloration. Heat can cause dryness and cracking, so store the jacket in a cool location away from heating vents and other heat sources.
9. Make sure the leather can “breathe.” Leather will last longer if exposed to dry air, especially a light draft. Never store leather inside a plastic bag or underneath plastic sheeting. When storing leather in a bag temporarily, open the bag whenever convenient to expose it to the air.
* Storing your jacket inside a closet is fine, unless the closet is unusually hot or damp.
10. Dry clean the jacket before moving it to storage. If storing leather long-term, dry clean it first to remove any pests and odors. This reduces the chance of pests attacking your jacket, but check your storage regularly for pests if possible.
So now you know how to care for them.