Leather jackets are undoubtedly strong and durable, with the thick animal hide material able to withstand the hands of time for many years. In fact, some people are able to wear their leather jacket for decades, attesting to its long-lasting performance. But if you’re going to wear a genuine leather jacket, you should take the necessary precautions to protect it from water damage. Failure to do so could result in a shorter lifespan for your leather jacket, forcing you to replace it just a few months or years down the road.
Leather Jackets and Water: What You Should Know
Some people assume that leather jackets are waterproof or water resistant, but this typically isn’t true. Unless a jacket is made of faux leather — which isn’t even real leather — it may sustain damage when exposed to water or moisture.
Leather is permeable, meaning it has a porous surface that absorbs and releases moisture depending on the surrounding environment. If a leather jacket is exposed to a wet or humid environment, for example, it will absorb moisture. If it’s exposed to a dry environment, it will release moisture.
When exposed to a wet or humid environment for a prolonged period, leather jackets may absorb a significant amount of moisture — to the point where the jacket begins to develop mold or mildew. Both mold and mildew are two types of fungi that thrive in moist environments. When either type of fungi has access to an organic food source, such as leather, in a moist environment, they will thrive. Unfortunately, this means prolonged exposure to moisture can cause your leather jacket to develop mold or mildew, which is why it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect your jacket from water.
Carry an Umbrella When Wearing Your Leather Jacket Outdoors
One way to protect your leather jacket from water damage is to carry an umbrella when wearing it outdoors. You won’t always need to use your umbrella. If the skies are clear and sunny, you obviously won’t need an umbrella. But if you discover a rainstorm is headed your way — and you’re unable to seek shelter or cover — pull out your umbrella so that neither you nor your leather jacket get wet.
Hand-Dry Your Leather Jacket When Wet
Even if you carry umbrella, your leather jacket may still get wet. The good news is that moisture shouldn’t cause any damage to your leather jacket as long as you dry it in a timely manner. Damage only occurs when leather jackets have been wet for a prolonged period. Therefore, drying your leather jacket will protect it from damage.
Don’t just toss your leather jacket in the clothes dryer, however. While this may sound like a quick and easy way to dry it, clothes dryers are too aggressive and hot for leather. As a result, using a clothes dryer to dry your leather jacket could damage it. A safer solution is to hand-dry your leather jacket using a clean towel. Just blot the surface of your leather jacket with a clean towel, at which point it should feel dry.
Store Your Leather Jacket In a Dry Environment
You should also store your leather jacket in a dry, though not too dry, environment to protect it from water damage. Some people move their leather jacket to a basement or attic for storage, believing it will free up space in their bedroom closet. While it may give you some additional space in your wardrobe, you shouldn’t store your leather jacket in either of these places because it will expose them to moisture. Attics and basements are generally humid since there’s no air conditioning. Over time, the humid air will saturate your leather jacket with moisture, which could cause it to develop mold or mildew.
Apply a Silicone Spray
For maximum protection against water damage, consider using a silicone spray on your leather jacket. What is a silicone spray exactly, and how does it protect against water damage? Silicone spray, as the name suggests, is a product consisting of liquid silicone that’s sprayed onto a garment. You can use it on a variety of different garments, though it’s particularly effective for leather jackets as well as other leather garments.
To use a silicone spray on your leather jacket, start by thoroughly cleaning the surface of your jacket to remove any lingering dirt, dust and debris. Using a damp washcloth, blot your leather jacket until it’s clean. Next, spray a light but even layer of the silicone product over your leather jacket. Once dry, the silicone product will create a waterproof barrier over the surface of your jacket, thereby protecting it from water damage.
Don’t Store Your Leather Jacket in a Sealed Plastic Bag
Some people believe that storing their leather jacket in a sealed plastic bag, such as a garment bag, will protect it from water damage. If your leather jacket is in a sealed bag, conventional wisdom may lead you to believe that moisture won’t be able to reach it. The problem, however, is that sealed plastic bags don’t allow the moisture within your jacket to escape. As a result, your leather jacket will remain saturated, all while encouraging mold and mildew to develop.
Clean Your Leather Jacket Regularly
This may sound unusual, but cleaning your leather jacket on a regular basis can actually protect it from water damage. If your leather jacket is dirty, mold and mildew are more likely to thrive, especially in wet or humid conditions. Dirt provides “food” for the mold -or mildew-causing fungi, allowing it to thrive. To prevent this from happening, you need to clean your leather on a regular basis.
You can’t control the weather or when it will rain, but you can protect your leather jacket jacket from water damage by following some simple steps. Carrying an umbrella and using a silicone spray, for example, will make a world of difference. These two things alone will usually safeguard leather jackets from most forms of water-related damage.