A leather jacket is a versatile form of outerwear that can offer countless years of use and enjoyment when properly maintained. Unfortunately, many people fail to properly maintain their leather jacket, resulting in a shorter lifespan for this otherwise attractive, comfortable garment. If you’re planning to invest in a leather jacket, follow these 10 steps to keep it in excellent condition.
#1) Don’t Place It in the Washing Machine
If you read the care label on your leather jacket — typically found inside the collar — you’ll probably discover that it’s not washing machine friendly. Assuming it’s made of genuine leather, you can’t place your leather jacket in the washing machine to clean it. Washing machines are too aggressive and expose garments to too much water. To keep your leather jacket in excellent condition, avoid cleaning it in the washing machine.
#2) Spot Clean It Regularly
Rather than placing your leather jacket in the washing machine, try to get into the habit of spot cleaning it regularly. This involves rubbing the surface of your leather jacket with a washcloth soaked in soapy water. Start by filling a bowl with warm water and gentle dish soap. Next, submerge a washcloth into the soapy water, followed by ringing it out. You can then rub the surface of your leather jacket with the washcloth to remove superficial dirt and stains. This is a safer and arguably more effective way to clean leather jackets than placing them in the washing machine.
#3) Take It Off When Performing Heavy Labor
Although it’s strong and durable, leather isn’t immune to damage. If you wear a leather jacket while performing heavy labor – cutting firewood, mowing the lawn, moving furniture, etc. — you may accidentally damage it. Catching the side of your leather jacket on a piece of firewood, for example, may tear it. To reduce the risk of this happening, take off your leather jacket when performing heavy labor.
#4) Don’t Force a Stuck Zipper
It’s not uncommon for the zipper on a coat or jacket to get stuck. When attempting to zip up your leather jacket, you may discover that the zipper won’t budge. When this happens, however, you shouldn’t try to force the stuck zipper. Instead, gently move the zipper around from side to side. Alternatively, if the zipper is no longer on the track, try placing it back on the track and then pulling it up. Pulling on a stuck zipper can cause it to tear away from the leather fabric, so don’t make this mistake with your leather jacket.
#5) Be Cautious of New Products
There are dozens of great cleaning and conditioning products that can help prolong the life of your leather jacket. Before using any new product, though, you should test it in a discreet area. Applying a small amount of the product to a crease or seam allows you to see firsthand how it affects the leather fabric. If the product permanently changes the color of your jacket, it’s best to avoid using it elsewhere on the fabric. By testing new products in a discreet area, you can avoid the headache of accidentally damaging your jacket.
#6) Use Saddle Soap
Based on its name, you may assume that saddle soap is used strictly for cleaning saddles. While it’s certainly used for this purpose, saddle soap can also be used to clean and condition leather jackets. In fact, it’s one of the best products to use on leather jackets. Saddle soap is a safe, gentle product that helps clean and moisturize leather so that it looks and feels like new.
#7) Don’t Leave It on Your Car Seat
What’s wrong with leaving your leather jacket on the car seat? Well, unless your car has tinted windows, your leather jacket will be exposed to sunlight here. Over time, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light will damage the leather fabric by causing it to fade and dry out. This won’t happen immediately. Rather, it often takes months of sun exposure to cause any noticeable damage. You can keep your leather jacket in excellent condition, however, by avoiding leaving it on your car seat.
#8) Hang It Up
We’ve all been guilty of tossing our coats or jackets on the table or living room furniture. Although this sounds harmless, it can cause the shape of your leather jacket to deform. This won’t necessarily damage your leather jacket, but it can still negatively effect its appearance. Therefore, you should hang up your leather jacket on a thick, heavy-duty clothes hanger when you aren’t wearing it. With your leather jacket stored on a clothes hanger, it will retain its original shape. Just remember to use a thick, heavy-duty clothes hanger rather than a cheap plastic hanger.
#9) Dry It After Wearing in the Rain
After wearing your leather jacket in the rain, take a few minutes to dry out. You don’t have to place it in the clothes dryer. On the contrary, clothes dryers — like washing machines — can damage leather jackets. The correct way to dry a leather jacket is to simply wipe the surface with a clean towel or washcloth. This will remove most of the water, protecting your leather jacket from moisture-related damage like mold and mildew.
#10) Store Indoors
Always store your leather jacket somewhere indoors where the temperature and humidity is controlled. Leaving your leather jacket outside for any prolonged length of time is never a good idea. Rain or snow may fall on your leather jacket, saturating it with moisture and causing it to develop mold or mildew. Even if there’s no rain or snow in the forecast, moisture vapor in the air can saturate your leather jacket with moisture. Furthermore, dust, pollen and other debris will land on the surface of your jacket, degrading the leather fabric and shortening the lifespan of your jacket. You can protect your leather jacket from damage such as this by storing it indoors. Whether it’s inside your home or workplace, storing your leather jacket indoors will keep it in excellent condition.