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How to care for your leather jacket

There are many parts to a good leather jacket. No matter the style you choose it's important to appreciate the investment you're making and ensure that your investment stands the test of time!

We've collated the best tips we could find on caring for your prized possession and ensuring it stays looking just the way you like it!

Before You Wear Your Leather Jacket or Coat

We know you're dying to get that jacket on but before you even think about what to wear it with you should be thinking about how to protect it. It's no different to how you protect those leather boots you've had for years! The key to keeping your jacket looking its best is to be sure that the leather is properly treated with a leather protector. Protector helps repel water and prevents stains on the leathers. Even getting caught in the rain can damage your jacket so this first step is critical if you want your jacket looking it's best.

You should reapply a leather protector at least once a year or more often if your jacket is frequently exposed to harsh weather.

There are a couple of other things to remember when it comes to your leather jacket:
  • Leather stretches - avoid cramming your pockets full of things like keys and lipsticks as this can stretch the leather into unusual shapes.
  • Apply things like perfume and hairspray before you put your jacket on. These products contain alcohol which can stain the leather.
  • If you're adding embellishments like badges or brooches consider having a professional do it for you so you don't irreparably damage the leather.
  • Also, have a professional do any size alterations, holes caused by incorrect stitching are nearly impossible to remove.
How to Clean Leather Jackets and Coats

If your leather jacket has been properly treated and protected, most soil can be wiped away with a clean, damp cloth. Of course, removing tougher stains like mildew or ink from leather require specific treatment.

But what should you do if the inner lining is soiled with body oil and perspiration? If the jacket is quite expensive, new, or you are a total laundry novice, head to a professional leather cleaning expert.

Always check the credentials of your dry cleaner. Not every laundromat is qualified to clean leather. 

However, if the inner lining is made of a washable fabric (read the fabric content and care labels), you can hand-wash your garment at home.

CAUTION: Hand-washing is appropriate for aniline leather finishes only. Never wash suede or nubuck garments. Before you give this a try, test the color-fastness of the leather using a clean, white, wet cloth on an interior spot of the leather. If color transfers to the cloth, the dye is not stable on the leather and you should not proceed.

If you decide to wash your leather jacket at home, you will need to be prepared to devote several days to the process and properly condition the leather after it has been washed. 

How to Hand Wash a Leather Jacket

Begin by emptying all pockets of the jacket and turning it inside out. Fill a large sink or plastic storage container with lukewarm water. Add a small amount of a gentle liquid detergent recommended for hand washing delicate items (like Ecostore Wool & Delicates) and swish to disperse through the water.

Completely submerge the leather jacket. Swish through the water to be sure the entire lining is wet. Gently squeeze the solution through the lining. Allow soaking for ten minutes or so. If there are specific stains, use a soft bristled brush to help lift those away.

When it is time to rinse the jacket, lift the jacket out of the soapy solution. DO NOT WRING. Simply squeeze out the excess moisture. Fill the sink with clean water and rinse. You may need to change the water several times to remove all of the soap and soil.

After you have washed your jacket with a gentle detergent, turn it in the right way and hang it over a bathtub to air dry. Use a sturdy wooden or padded hanger to prevent marks on the shoulders. Never hang in direct sunlight or near a heat source. It may take two to three days for the jacket to dry completely.

The next step is to completely condition the garment until it is once again soft and supple. Be sure that you use a good quality leather conditioner.

If your leather jacket has gotten soaked by rain, follow the same steps for air drying and treating with a leather conditioner.

How to Store Leather Jackets

Storing your leather jacket properly will prevent many problems. Again, use a wide sturdy hanger to support the weight of your jacket. Jackets should be stored in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. Avoid any location that has excessive moisture-even a closet near a bathroom. If you are concerned about dust, cover the jacket with a cloth garment bag or cotton sheet. NEVER store it in a plastic bag that could trap moisture and promote mildew.

Avoid ironing if at all possible. If you must iron, use a cool to medium temperature iron and pressing cloth over the leather.

Too much heat and you'll have a permanent shiny iron print on the leather.

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