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Like everything else in your wardrobe, your leather jacket will get dirty and experience some wear and tear over time. Regardless of how gently and carefully you treat it, it’ll eventually experience some stains, discoloration and cracking. Still, taking care of your leather jacket can prolong its life and spare you from buying a new one prematurely.
The following tips should help you better care for your jacket and enjoy wearing it for many years to come.
1. Read the Tag
Each leather manufacturer has a set of directions for caring for their particular products. Therefore, it’s best to follow the instructions on the tag inside your jacket.
They’ll often include the type of leather, the kind of hide, the leather’s origin, a disclaimer about wear and tear and a set of cleaning instructions. If your jacket doesn’t include this information, you may find the other tips on this list helpful.
2. Use a Commercial Cleaner
Dozens of leather cleaning products are on the market today, and most can remove even the toughest stains. However, there’s always a chance the solution may not work. In this case, you may consider formulating your own cleaner using everything from hairspray to vinegar.
While these may remove the stain, they often cause more harm than good and can permanently discolor your jacket. This is especially true if the stain penetrated the sealant and soaked the leather.
3. Pay a Professional
If you find a stain and commercial cleaners just aren’t doing the trick, it’s best to take your jacket to a professional. Paying a pro is often cheaper than purchasing a brand new jacket.
Plus, if they screw up, you’ll at least have some legal recourse against them. If you try to fix it yourself and mess up, you’ll be stuck with the cost of purchasing a brand new jacket — and the shame of ruining yours.
4. Dry Slowly
Unless you live in the desert, your leather jacket will get wet or damp at some point. When this happens, it’s best to let the fabric dry slowly. Hang the jacket at room temperature and allow time to work its magic, even if it takes a few days.
Avoid placing your jacket in the sun or near a fire or heater. While it may dry faster, rushing the process will cause it to crack and warp.
5. Apply Conditioner
Speaking of cracks, your jacket is naturally prone to dryness and cracking over time, especially if you expose it to sunshine. If you begin to notice dry spots, apply a conditioner to moisturize the material.
How often you condition it — and what kind of conditioner you use — largely depends on your climate and frequency of use, plus how soft or rugged you prefer your leather. Choose products with lanolin for a softer, more pliable feel, and condition the jacket less often for a stiff, rugged look.
6. Wipe and Brush
Using a damp cloth is one of the most reliable ways to routinely clean leather. Simply wet a cloth with water and wipe your jacket down each week to prevent frequent deep cleanings.
Avoid using soaps or other chemicals, as they can remove sealants and oils that protect the material. Regarding suede, use a small wire brush to remove dirt and lint, brushing with the grain.
7. Store It Properly
Proper storage is essential if you want your jacket to look pristine in the long-term. At the end of the season, be sure to clean, brush and condition your jacket and store it away from any heat sources.
Cover it with a breathable fabric — not plastic — and use a strong wooden or padded hanger to hang it in your closet. You might also stuff the sleeves with white acid-free paper to maintain their shape.
Customizing Your Care Routine
Before deciding how much time you’d like to spend taking care of your leather jacket, consider how you want your garment to look and feel. Do you want it to feel stiff and look a little worn, or would you rather it be soft and supple? Your personal preferences will play a major role in creating your personal care routine.
Once you establish this routine, you can begin caring for your jacket any way you see fit. Then, you can feel confident and proud each time you put it on.