Basic care: understanding how leather works
Part of a leather jacket's appeal is its versatility. It looks great on both men and women, and it works with various layers and textures. While leather complements most outfits, special care should be taken to ensure the fabric lasts since leather can't be cleaned with traditional laundry methods. Hang your leather apparel on wooden hangers in a cool, dry area to help the jacket maintain its shape, as folding may create creases. This also preserves the fabric's integrity and prevents any stretching that might occur.
Extra care: weatherproofing and stain removal
Dealing with the elements
Before wearing your new or vintage leather jacket out for weekend brunch or a night on the town, don't forget to weatherproof it. Lightly wipe the jacket with a damp cloth and finish off with a quick spritz of leather protectant to ensure your investment piece is ready for all weather conditions. This simple step also safeguards against any potential stains or spills, and it works for leather shoes and boots as well. Do a spot test before application by spraying a small section to check how the leather reacts to the product. If you don't see any discoloration or changes in texture, proceed to cover the entire piece. For best results, repeat this process at the start of each new season.
Taking care of minor stains
If you've had a little slip with your leather pants or jacket, keep calm and blot on. For a water-based stain, resist the temptation to reach for a blow dryer—let it air dry naturally instead. Ink and road salt stains can be common occurrences; rubbing alcohol will take care of the former, and saddle soap will help with any salt on your leather footwear. As always, test out a small area before covering a large area of the fabric with any given substance. If these methods fail to remove the stain, consider sending your pieces to a professional cleaning service. Seasonal care: cleaning and storage small area before covering a large area of the fabric with any given substance. If these methods fail to remove the stain, consider sending your pieces to a professional cleaning service.
Seasonal care: cleaning and storage
Professional cleaning over at-home care
There are always inherent risks to cleaning leather, so opt for professional care instead of the DIY route; you might be able to take care of some minor blemishes, but treating a stubborn oil-based stain yourself can lead to some damage of the material. While it may seem like an added cost, professional cleaning will save you money in the long run by preserving your clothing for a longer period of time. However, contrary to common misconception, leather can't be dry cleaned. The heat treatment will cause the fabric to lose its natural oils, which can lead to color bleeding or cracking in the material. That being said, your dry cleaner will most likely be able to outsource your garment to the best specialty cleaner in the city to ensure your attire receives the expert care it deserves.
Storing for the off-season
Invest in a leather conditioner to keep your pieces soft and supple between wears. Keep your jacket on a padded or wooden hanger—a wire hanger will bend and as a result, can stretch out the material. If you plan to keep your jacket in a bag, a cloth garment bag is preferable over a plastic one because the former will allow the leather to breathe. For any leather apparel you own, send it to a cleaner first to take care of stains and odors before storing it in a cool and dry spot, away from sunlight.
Leather requires extra attention to keep it looking its best, but that doesn't mean it has to be a painful process. By following our expert care tips, you'll keep your favorite leather pieces in great condition—without too much fuss.
Photos: pongsakorn prammaeklong / Shutterstock.com, London Scout, Greg Raines, Viktor Hanacek, Dương Trần Quốc