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How to Care for and Clean a Leather Jacket

the best leather motorcycle jackets jacket
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Whether you remember the suave coolness of Marlon Brando in "The Wild One" or the rugged adventure-seeking of Indiana Jones, leather jackets have been a staple in a man's wardrobe for decades. They add a level of elevated style without losing the picture of a masculine aura. However, finding the perfect leather jacket for your lifestyle is only half the battle. When you finally invest in the right jacket, you need to make sure you keep it clean without spending a ton of money. Here is how to clean a leather jacket at home.




10 minutes

What You Need

  • 2x soft rags

  • Dish soap

  • Towel

  • Leather conditioner

  • Vinegar

  • Nail polish remover

  • Cotton swab

  • Baking soda

  • Rubbing Alcohol

Leather jackets are items that can last for decades if properly taken care of. While you can't throw these in the wash on your regular laundry day, the process is much simpler than it sounds. The jacket doesn't need to be cleaned regularly, they are supposed to look broken in, so only do this whenever the jacket needs a little TLC. If you have stains, the process will differ and the tools you need will depend on the type of stain.

man in leather jacket in the road
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Cleaning Your Jacket at Home

Instead of taking your jacket to the dry cleaners every six months or whenever you get a stain on it, there is a better way to keep your jacket looking fresh as the day you bought it for years to come.

Step 1: Mix a solution of warm water and dish soap or make a cleaning solution of one part vinegar to one part water

Step 2: Dip a soft cloth into the solution, wring it out, and wipe the jacket. Don't scrub any part of the jacket

Step 3: Use a second clean, damp cloth to wipe off the cleaning solution

Step 4: Dry the jacket with a towel

Leather Jacket
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Removing Stains

The above process works best if you are only trying to freshen up your jacket from time to time. But what about removing stains? Nothing is worse than having a stellar jacket be ruined by minor stains that steal the look. Here is how to remove the most common stains.

How to Remove Ink Stains

Using nail polish remover can rid your jacket of pesky ink stains. Here is how you want to do it.

Step 1: Dip a cotton swab in the nail polish remover

Step 2: Blot the area gently, DON'T scrub as you could spread the stain. Keep blotting until the stain is gone.

Step 3: Wipe clean with a damp cloth

Step 4: Dry with a separate towel

Man in Leather Jacket
Bee Bonnet / Shutterstock

How to Remove Oil and Grease Stains

Whether you're eating pizza or changing the oil in your F-14 (we're looking at you Maverick), accidents happen and you need to find a way to remove grease and oil stains from your jacket. Here is how.

Step 1: Sprinkle baking soda on the stain

Step 2: Rub gently with a damp cloth

Step 3: Let the jacket sit overnight, the baking soda will absorb the oil or grease

Step 4: Brush the powder from the jacket with a soft cloth

Step 5: Dry the jacket with a towel

How to Remove Mold or Mildew

If you have been living in a tropical climate for a while, it may have been a long time since you got to break out your best Steve McQueen look. Nothing is worse than pulling a jacket out of storage and being hit with the smell of mildew. Never fear, we have the solution to get you back in the jacket and on the motorcycle in no time.

Step 1: Mix a solution of one part rubbing alcohol and one part water

Step 2: Dip a cloth in the solution and rub the molded area

Step 3: Wipe clean with another damp cloth

Step 4: Dry with a towel

Once you have cleaned your jacket, the last thing you want to do is ensure you protect it. Just as dermatologists recommend using a moisturizer for your face once you're out of the shower, your jacket needs a leather conditioner to keep it looking sharp. One of the best out there is Leather Honey. Splash a little of that on the jacket once you have cleaned it and people on the street will be mistaking you for Indiana Jones in no time.

Mark McKee
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
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