The Best Way to Clean a Leather Jacket

Leather jackets aren't actually difficult to maintain.

Photo: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Nothing can really compare to the instant dose of chic and cool that a leather jacket adds to an outfit. But leather goods don't come cheap and can't exactly be thrown into the washing machine when they get dirty. So, how does one keep an investment like a leather jacket clean --- and looking sharp?

Everyday Upkeep

While leather jackets don't require frequent washes like normal articles of clothing, there are a few quick and easy tasks you should do to keep your leather in good condition. Using a dry microfiber cloth, dust and buff leather between wears. This will keep the leather glowing and shiny, removing any street dust that might have accumulated. Also try using saddle soap, available at tack shops, to condition leather every so often.

Spot Cleaning

Leather should only ever be spot cleaned. There are a number of home remedies that are effective, non-toxic and won't break your budget. Create a paste using equal parts lemon juice and cream of tartar. Rub the mixture on the stain and do not rise. If the spot remains, let it sit a few hours and try again. To remove road dirt and salt, blot a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water over the coat. Make sure not to saturate the leather.

Saving Scratches

Some people may tell you to fill in leather scratches with a matching color magic marker. But what seems like a quick fix could end up a real mess. Instead, try dabbing the area with distilled white vinegar, which puffs the leather up like collagen and masks the appearance of the scratch. Also try applying saddle soap with a damp cloth. This won't mask the scratch, but it will help prevent the scratch from eventually turning into a hole.

Tough Stains

OK, we're not perfect. Sometimes we drop the occasional pen or --- oops! --- red wine on our lovely leather jacket. While this might be time to bring your prized possession to a professional cleaner, try a home remedy first. Dish washing liquid can work wonders on smaller stains and is gentler than some laundry detergent cleansers. Apply the dish soap with a damp cloth by blotting. Buff with a dry cloth, let air dry and do not repeat.

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