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How to Clean & Protect Leather Jackets

29th Mar 2020

How to Clean & Protect Leather Jackets

The leather jacket is the ultimate example of rugged masculine style. They come in many iconic styles and shapes, such as BikerAviator and Bomber.  But did you know that if you don't take care of your jacket properly, you can send it to an early grave. Stains, fading and even cracks will destroy the most well-made leather jacket.

How to take care of your leather jacket?

Should you run it through the washing machine, or get it dry cleaned?

Don't ever do that!

You're going to ruin your jacket that way. Leather has two enemies, moisture and heat. If your jacket gets soaked and you don't dry it out properly and let it sit. Your jacket will get mould and mildew issues, which will ruin the leather. Water can also wash away the natural oils in the leather and it can make the leather brittle and prone to crack over time. What about using heat to dry out the leather gentlemen, if done improperly, heat can cause leather to shrink and can overdrive the leather leading to cracks.

Using a heat dryer to dry your leather jacket, laying it across a radiator or even laying it out in the sun can cause damage. So how to dry a leather jacket if it's wet? Don't hang it up on a regular hanger, it will damage your leather jacket. Instead, use a wide shoulder hanger and ensure the room has plenty of ventilation. Leave it for about 24 hours and it should be dry.

Cleaning a leather jacket

How can you clean a leather jacket if you can't soak it in water? 

Dampen a cotton rag or microfiber cloth and gently rub it over the leather jacket. Drew moved any dirt or dust. A little water won't hurt your jacket soaking it is what really causes the issues. When using water to clean your jacket, use only distilled water. Regular tap water contains minerals that can cause stains of their own. I recommend giving your jacket a quick wipe down like this once every month or two to keep dirt from building up.

But what if your jacket is very dirty? What if it looks like you need to throw it into the Washington machine? Nope, still don't do it. Now. My favorite product for cleaning leather is saddle soap. It's gentler on leather and it easily cuts through dirt and grime. Now to get started, what you want to do is rub a damp cloth over the saddle soap to create a leather, gently rub a thin layer of the saddle soap over the area that's dirty. Next, remove any excess soap with a damp cloth and let dry for 10 to 15 minutes. Pro-tip, remember to spot test any leather cleaning product or conditioner on a small area of your jacket, preferably in a place that no one's going to be able to see to check first stating this is important.

Now if you do decide to give your entire leather jacket a deep cleaning, only do this once a year because here's the issue. Using that settle soap, you're removing a lot of the essential oils on the outside and even some on the inside of the leather and you're going to need to replace that. You now need to condition the leather, which by the way, I'm going to cover later in this video.

Removing Stains from leather jackets

Leather Stains can be a bit trickier to get rid of depending on actually stain in in the jacket now stays from food and liquids can usually be removed at home, but a bad ink stain  that's going to probably require professional help. If it's a fresh stain, immediately you want to use a clean cloth to gently blot as much of the liquid or grease from the jacket as possible.

Notice I said blot, not rub in. Now if the stain still isn't removed, we're going to level up our efforts here and we're going to use simple dish, so simply mix a bit with water and then you're going to use cloth to gently dab at the stain with the mixture. Again, we're not rubbing it, we're not pressing hard. Now after you've been Davin away with that soapy mixture, go ahead and wipe it away with a fresh wet cloth. Finally, use another cloth to lightly dry the area. At this point, you're going to let the leather sit and completely dry for a few hours, one stride check to see if the state is still there. If so, repeat the process again. Now if the stains more stubborn, it's not coming out with dish soap. You want to use a stain remover specifically formulated for leather. You can find them out there, tons of brands.

Now every product's going to have its own set of instructions. For this one right here for what I'm using, it says to apply it with a sponge and then gently wipe it over the stain in small circles. Now wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove in an excess stain remover and repeat as necessary until the stain is gone. Now at this point, if the stain persists, it's time to take it to the professionals. What you're going to want to do is called all the dry cleaners in your area and let them know what the stain is and that it is in leather and ask them if they specialize in dealing with leather products.

Leather Jacket Restoration

How to deal with a leather jacket that has become faded and scratched? Leather jackets are going to fade and develop a patina over time. That's part of their charm, but too much patina from neglecting to care for your jacket. The worst part is that some of those deep scratches, if not taken care of, can develop into cracks. Cracks that can create holes right in your jacket and can make the jacket unwearable. So the first step in the defense of your jacket from becoming faded, scratched and cracked is use of of leather conditioner. To get started, use a soft cloth and apply a thin layer of leather conditioner over the entire Jacket. Paying careful attention to areas like the elbows where the stress of flexing is more likely to cause cracking.

When you're applying a leather conditioner, you want to apply it in moderation and let it soak for about 20 minutes. If you notice you have applied too much, remove the excess. 

When's a good time to condition your leather jacket? 

Anytime you get caught in the rain and that jacket gets wet and you let it dry it out. Also, if you've cleaned the jacket recently with saddle soap, you want to apply a leather conditioner, and of course don't forget to apply leather conditioner after you have been through to the stain, especially a spot state. When you put that stain remover on there, it didn't just pull out the stain. It also pulled out a bit of moisture. Now our general rule of thumb is to condition your jacket once a year, but if you rarely wear the leather jacket, if it sits in your closet and it's climate controlled, once every five years is going to be fine, but what if you wear it all the time?

It gets wet or you live in a dry climate like Arizona, I would recommend two to three times a year.

Recoloring the Leather Jacket

Now let's talk about recoloring the jacket. You can actually buy special ball in the color of your jacket. Let's say you've got a black leather jacket. It started to lose some of its color. It's becoming gray and areas you use this Barb, like a conditioner on the outside of the jacket. Again, making sure to test it in a small area and you would be surprised about what you can do yourself with these bombs to recolor the jacket and bring back its natural shine and look. Now, remember, when it comes to these bulbs, less is more. Oftentimes you're going to want to go in small circular strokes and work the ball in the Villa. Now these balls in general work rather quick, but you're going to need to let them dry and they go over and buff, look at the results, and then say, Hey, do I want to apply another layer?

Maybe you do, and then go for it till you get the color desired, and by the way, I've seen guys do this on their entire jacket when they wanted to make the jacket a slightly different color, they wanted to take a lighter jacket, make it a little bit darker. Again, this is something that you need to spot check, see how it looks, but don't be afraid to have fun with your jacket and go for a different look.

Leather Jacket Protection

So we've talked about repair and recovery, but what can you do to protect your leather jacket from the elements? In my opinion, one of the best products out there is a water resistant silicone spray. This right here is going to do a great job of protecting your jacket. And if you have a suede jacket, this is required. Otherwise, yes, one rainstorm. And you can end up looking like you know Jerry over at Seinfeld. Yeah, you remember that episode. We don't want that to happen to you. To apply the spray, go in light overlapping strokes until you've covered the entire garment. Make sure you're in well ventilated area and wait about 12 hours until the leather has completely dried after you've sprayed the silicone spray on.

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