Ugh. Great. You thought that your leather jacket didn’t need to be taken care of much, given of course its made of high quality material and is very durable. Well, for the most part, you’re right!
BUT there is always a “but,” as my girlfriend constantly reminds me. Similar to any other cherished thing you have, it’s good to take care of them, especially if you put in the time and effort searching for the best jacket and learning about how they’ve survived the test of time in fashion, style, and function.
I will show you how to condition a leather jacket.
Honest Disclosure: Leather jackets do not need much conditioning based on the average household. BUT how do you keep it looking fresh and new, whether you’re reviving your jacket from the past winter or want to protect your first purchase?
Keeping your jacket in top shape does not always require any products, just proper care. When conditioning a leather jacket, however, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
At the Store – Questions Galore
If you happen to get a chance to ask a few questions to the person or company selling the leather jacket, it would be good to get the answers so that you understand what’s recommended for your particular jacket as you begin to condition it. Here are a few questions you can use:
– What kind of leather is the jacket made of?
– Is the leather sealed within the jacket?
– (If the leather is not sealed) What kind of waterproofing solutions do you recommend I use to treat the jacket?
– What cleaners or conditioners should I use to treat the jacket?
Knowing the answers to these questions like the type of leather and whether the jacket is pre-treated with a protective seal will help you understand how to condition your jacket for the future.
Prep and Clean Your Leather
Before beginning the conditioning process, you need to wipe down and clean your leather jacket. One way is to read the jacket’s tag for specific instructions. More often than not it actually doesn’t help, as more and more manufacturers are simply stating to dry clean the jacket or don’t mention any specific instructions at all. But it helps to check.
Brush your leather down with a damp cloth, especially any dirt or grime from the leather. Remember not to use any heavy soaps or cleansers, simply water. Heavy soaps and cleansers can sometimes remove the natural oils in the leather which work to preserve the jacket. They can also cause the leather to dry out and crack, ultimately damaging the jacket.
At no point should you also use a washer or dryer with your leather jacket.
Leather is surprisingly easy to clean, so using a cloth, rag, towel, or even old t-shirt will help to gently clean the jacket before conditioning. You can also buy special leather cleaners which do not require rinsing if you feel you’re working with a high quality or expensive leather jacket.
After using a damp rag or cloth, let your wet leather jacket dry naturally at room temperature. If you’re looking for a speedier approach, I’ve used paper towel or another dry cloth to gently dry my leather jacket. You can find more ways on drying wet leather in my post on wearing leather in the rain.
Condition Leather Properly
Quick Tip: If you’re looking to break in your leather jacket or fixing any wrinkles before conditioning it, check out my post on wearing in a leather jacket and how to get wrinkles out of a leather jacket.
Once you know the type of leather you’re working with and you have a clean jacket in front of you, it’ll be easier knowing the right leather conditioner to use. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve found Leather Honey Leather Conditioner to be very helpful, especially with it’s amazing reviews. Other products you can look into that are well known are pure mink oil, neatsfoot oil, and other natural animal oils (they may darken leather). Cheaper options that contain wax or silicone can cause less color change when used sparingly, but can also dry out the leather. Whatever the case, just know not to use products that contain mineral oil or petroleum. These have been known to cause major damage to leather.
Having a leather conditioner will provide a lot of benefits to your leather, such as removing the grit and grime that will build up over time from regular wear. Similar to how we apply lotion to our hands, the conditioner will also keep your leather jacket from getting dry and cracking and restore oil to the leather.
To condition, apply a very thin coating of the conditioner to the leather. Rub the conditioner into the leather gently with a dry cloth, rag, or old clean T-shirt. Let the conditioner absorb into the leather for about 10 to 15 minutes, and buff off the extra amount with another cloth, rag, etc. This will make the leather shine once you’re done. Just remember not to apply too much conditioner as too much oil can clog the leather jacket’s pores and affect its color or lifespan.
You can apply leather conditioner from time to time or when your jacket begins to feel stiff or dry, which will ultimately keep your jacket moisturized and looking in top shape for any occasion.
Store Your Leather Jacket
After applying the right protective measures to condition your leather jacket, you can now bring it outside and show it off to your heart’s content, or if it’s not leather jacket wearing day today (it usually is, right?) hang it on a wide, padded clothes hanger.
A hanger is the best option to minimize wrinkles. A sturdy wood hanger is also a good option and much better than any wire or plastic hangers which can often cause damage to the jacket’s lining or misshape the shoulders (I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened even to my T-shirts or sweaters after a wash).
Obviously you also know not to keep your jacket in direct sunlight or near heat, which can generally fade the leather’s color over time, cause dryness and cracking, and ruin the lovely effort you put in to conditioning your jacket. A closet works. An open closet with a light draft works even better.
And never store leather inside a plastic bag (I use them for my suit jackets) as leather needs to breathe and plastic restricts air circulation. A nylon garment bag is more ideal for longer periods of time (just keep the bag open to expose it to air).
Clean, Condition, Store
Knowing the best way to condition your leather jacket is important because a leather jacket is a big investment in how you portray yourself. Properly caring for your jacket is a long investment in itself and will keep it looking fresh and new in any situation for years to come.
How do you condition your jacket? Are there better ways you’ve found that work? Let me know with a comment below.