How To Clean Leather Jackets At Home

How to clean leather jackets at home
How to clean leather jackets at home

Table of Contents

A leather jacket never goes out of trend. It is a wardrobe staple that can stay will for forever if you will treat it the right way. Unlike other clothes, you cannot wash & rinse your leather jacket. Because, excessive water can make it shrink, warp or crack. So, it is important to clean leather jackets properly. And, if you have no clue about cleaning methods, stick to this article. We have shared everything you should know to clean leather jackets properly and keep damage away.

Before sharing how to clean leather jackets, we will first see the different types of leather used to make jackets.

Types Of Leather Used In Jackets

Know different type of leather used in jackets before cleaning them
Know different type of leather used in jackets before cleaning them

You will find leather in different grades and finishes which makes a difference in the way they are cleaned. You can identify different types of leather by looking at their grains.

What are leather grains?

Leather grain is the way the hide looks. It has a texture similar to wood grain, but it isn’t really wood. One big difference between leather and wood is that you can’t cut leather. With leather, there are lots of misconceptions, like the fact that brands just slap on a fake grain. 

  • Suede: Natural suede leather is created from the soft underside of a split-grain animal hide. It has a nappy finish that is easily stained. There are specific cleaning and care ways for suede jackets, accessories, and furniture.
  • Nubuck: Similar to suede in appearance, nubuck uses the top of the animal hide which is finely sanded and buffed to produce the softest, velvety leather finish. The care techniques for Nubuck are similar to suede and stain removal most often requires treatment by a professional.
  • Aniline: Aniline leather is full-grain leather that has been treated with the chemical aniline. This is the most common type of leather used for jackets.
  • Nappa: The highest grade leather, Nappa leather is very soft, and supple, and uses a full-grain sheep or lamb hide.
  • Faux leather: Faux leather is a leather-like synthetic material. Though it is less supple and durable than real leather, it is vegan and comes with a smaller price tag.

You cannot use the cleaning methods explained later in this blog on suede jackets. As stated above, suede has split grains that give it a distinct texture from other types of leather. Hence, you will have to use different ways, for knowing them you can refer to our guide to clean suede jackets.

There are two ways to clean leather jackets of all other types:

  • Using soap and water
  • By using a leather cleaner

Before moving to these methods, you should remove stains first. Let’s see how you can do that:

Remove Stains From A Leather Jacket

It’s best to deal with spills immediately, when possible, especially if it’s a liquid like red wine or coffee that might leave permanent stains. To test whether it’s safe to spot-clean a certain type of leather with water, find an inconspicuous spot on the jacket to rub in a few drops. If the water beads on the leather, it should be able to withstand being wiped down with a wet towel. If the water absorbs into the leather, have it dry-cleaned to be on the safe side.

Rubbing Alcohol

Mould and mildew can both appear on the leather which is stored in damp or humid conditions.  Mould tends to be green or black and slimy in appearance, whereas mildew is white, grey or yellow and is fluffy and powdery.  Use a damp cloth soaked in a strong solution of rubbing alcohol to remove the mould and then allow the jacket to dry naturally. 


Use your finger to apply non-gel toothpaste to the stain. Rub gently with a soft cloth until the stain lifts. Do not scrub or you could scratch or discolour the leather. Wipe toothpaste off with a clean, damp cloth.

If the stain on your jackets are too tough, you can try our leather cleaning service.

Nail Polish Remover

Get rid of ink stains and scuffs by blotting the area with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. Don’t rub the spot or you could make the ink spread. Blot gently until the stain is gone. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry with a towel.

Baking Soda or Cornstarch

Remove oil or grease stains by sprinkling baking soda or cornstarch on the spot. Rub gently with a damp cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight. The soda or starch will absorb the oil. Wipe off the powder with a soft cloth and dry with a soft towel.

Now, let’s see how to clean the whole jacket.

Steps To Clean Leather Jacket Using Soap And Water

Remove stains before cleaning the whole leather jacket
Remove stains before cleaning the whole leather jacket

Step 1: Mix up a mild soap solution

Run a few ounces of warm water into a large, open container. Add about two teaspoons of liquid dish detergent and stir until the soap is completely dissolved. The goal is to produce a very gentle solution you can use to wipe down your jacket without damaging it. Too much detergent can cause leather to deteriorate and strip it of dyes, resulting in a blotchy, discolored appearance.

Step 2: Wet a soft towel or sponge

Submerge the towel or sponge in the soapy solution. Wring out the excess liquid. The towel or sponge shouldn’t be sopping wet, just damp. If it’s too wet, the water can soak into and saturate the leather, potentially causing even more damage. Use a soft cloth. Rough fabrics may leave scratches on soft leather if you’re not careful. A microfiber cloth is ideal.

Step 3: Wipe down the outside of the jacket

Run the damp towel or sponge in long, smooth motions rather than forcefully scrubbing. Pay particular attention to water spots, discoloured patches and places where dirt or oil has built up on the leather. Clean the entire jacket, re-wetting the towel when needed

Step 4: Clean off the soap and pat the jacket dry

Wipe the jacket again, this time using clean water to clear away any soap residue. Make sure there’s no standing water remaining on the jacket. With a dry towel, pat the leather until it is completely dry. Hang the jacket up in a closet and allow it to finish drying. Direct heat can be very bad for leather, especially if it has just been moisturized, so don’t dry the jacket in a machine or use a blow dryer.


What if we say you can get your leather jackets cleaned effortlessly?

Steps To Clean Jacket Using A Leather Cleaner

How to clean leather jackets at using leather cleaner
Cleaning leather jackets with leather cleaner

Step 1: Purchase a specialty leather cleaner

These contain ingredients that scrub away dirt and stains, and oils that help soften the leather and keep it healthy. You can typically find leather cleaners at superstores, along with any place that specializes in leather. A bottle of leather cleaning solution only costs a few dollars and is likely to last for years.

Step 2: Apply the leather cleaner to the jacket

Squirt a dime-sized glob of leather cleaning solution onto the dirty part of the jacket. Some leather cleaners are gels, sprays, or bars. If you’re using any of these other kinds, always start with a minimal amount of cleaner and apply more as needed.

Step 3: Rub the cleaning solution into the leather

Take a soft, clean towel and massage the leather cleaner into the surface of the jacket. Use slow circular strokes, rubbing outward in a spiral. As you work the cleaner in, it will collect dirt and remove water spots that have set into the leather. Rub until the cleaner has been absorbed entirely.

Step 4: Remove excess solution

Use a separate towel to wipe off any leather cleaner remaining on the jacket. The jacket should have a clean, rich sheen to it when you’re finished. Afterwards, your jacket will look like new and the leather will be moisturized and protected, keeping it in good shape for months. Since it’s designed to be soaked into dry, chapped leather, there’s no need to rinse away leather cleaner once it’s been applied. Leather cleaners are formulated to get the job done with minimal effort, but you may have to apply the cleaner several times if the jacket is very dingy.

What not to do with leather jackets

  • Avoid using natural oils, such as olive and coconut oil, to clean a leather jacket. These can give your jacket a deceptive shine, but in reality they can oversaturate the leather, making it feel greasy and causing it to split.
  • Never put a leather jacket through the washing machine and/or machine dryer. This will almost always result in the leather cracking, shrivelling and drying out, and can even shrink the jacket a full size.
  • Some leather cleaners and conditioners contain flammable oils and may put off fumes that are hazardous to breathe.
  • Always wipe the leather gently. Scrubbing and scouring can wear down the outer surface and cause the dye to fade.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not necessarily purport to reflect the values or views of Tumbledry.

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