What a horrible idea. Or put more politely, what a vile and ghastly collection of a thought. Then again, not many know whether dry cleaners clean leather jackets. I know I didn’t until quite recently. Luckily, it wasn’t during a time where I was handing over my jacket to a dry cleaner. In fact, if you’re reading this, congrats on also being one of the lucky ones to think this through before handing your leather to the dry cleaners.
So do dry cleaners clean leather jackets? In short, somewhat. Is it worth the result that happens after? Absolutely not. Read on to learn more.
Leather Isn’t Meant To Be Dry Cleaned
It’s a common misconception that leather jackets can be dry cleaned. Leather is meant to be supple and “alive,” much like our skin. If it goes against standard harsh dry cleaning chemicals, it will do what happens to our skin in the winter. It dries out and cracks.
Don’t get me wrong. It is possible to dry clean for general cleans, stain removal, or color restoration, but the majority of dry cleaners will not have the correct expertise for your leather jacket. If you’re looking for simple ways to clean your leather jacket, learn more about it here.
Why You Shouldn’t Dry Clean Leather
A suit can get dry cleaned much like a dress, coat, or dress shirt, but that does not mean your leather jacket can go through the same process. For one, the material is different. The other major factor is that leather jackets have gone through many processes and treatments to get the color, texture, and look that you see and feel.
If you dry clean that jacket, it may lose its original texture and look, sometimes even staining or making it worse as a result, mostly due to the use of chemicals meant more for suits than leather jackets. It would also undo all the processes and treatments that were done on the jacket to give that certain texture and look.
The Dry Cleaning Process
Leather is meant to stay in great condition by being hydrated. I don’t mean going under the rain specifically to give your jacket a drink from nature’s water fountain, but more so staying conditioned, much like you use hand cream to hydrate your hands.
I’ve found that some types of leather will even shrink after a dry cleaning process. Unless your intention is to shrink a large leather jacket, I’d advise against dry cleaning.
Check Your Label
A very interesting thing you’ll notice (and believe me, I found many can overlook this particular part) is what it says on your jacket label. Not the one that says the brand or the size. The one telling you how to wash the jacket. While a suit may say “Dry Clean Only,” a leather jacket will say “Clean Professionally By A Leather Or Suede Expert.”
How is this different? It’s fairly easy to pass by it thinking both mean the same thing. Yet, just like I mentioned earlier, it specifically states to bring it to someone who knows the ins and outs of leather like a specialist, to be able to treat your jacket right, especially if it’s one of your more expensive pieces of clothing that you can’t afford to mess up.
Your Standard Dry Cleaner May Not Handle Leather Correctly
Running to your neighborhood dry cleaner where you get all your suits or dresses cleaned may cause more trouble than you anticipate. Many dry cleaners are risky business as they do not have the right special chemicals for professional leather jacket cleaning.
If your leather jacket is faded or stained, an inexperienced dry cleaner may more often than not worsen the problem by creating bigger stains or even discoloring the leather more. A specialist leather cleaner will be able to recolor or dye that stained leather.
Leather requires specific chemicals, dyes, and skills for treatment. Some dry cleaners may say they clean leather and suede and if they do, it’s best to check for reviews around whether they truly do a great job and use the right chemicals. Knowing the risk in advance will help you in the long run if your jacket is expensive or valuable.
There Are Better Options
Dry cleaners do clean a leather jacket, but it does not bode well in the long run. Risky professionals and harsh chemicals can damage your prized leather when done in the wrong manner. Leather treatments may be undone and the look and feel of your jacket may change. Rather, take it to a professional leather expert for your leather needs, or, depending on the stain or mark, you can easily clean using a few simple inexpensive methods as well.
Do you have a war story or experience with dry cleaning leather? Leave a comment below!