How to clean and care for a leather jacket

12th October 2018


Leather jackets instantly add that rebel vibe to any wardrobe – giving you that ‘gram worthy outfit in an instant. But when it comes to keeping it clean – don’t just shove it in the washing machine. Regular maintenance will keep your leather jacket looking like new. Follow our simple guide and you’ll know how to clean a leather jacket in no time.


Mens and womens leather jackets

How to clean leather jackets:

Cleaning leather jackets requires dabbing it with a soft polishing cloth and scent-free soapy water as well as careful control of the washing temperature to avoid cracking or shrinking. If the stain sticks, you can buff a small amount of saddle soap or wax directly onto the jacket. Our guide on how to clean a leather jacket talks you through how to handle this to keep your jacket looking its best.

It’s not as straightforward as just handing it over to your mum and hoping for the best, but that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. Make sure you test these tips and tricks on a small part of the jacket first to be extra careful – if you’re happy with the result do the whole thing. Need a few more tips? Read on for our full guide.


The basics of how to clean a leather jacket

It’s almost too easy to get smudges and dirt on your treasured leather jacket. Keep on top of it by getting into the habit of giving your jacket a quick clean after every use. It may sound like a lot of effort, but you’ll thank us later when you’ve learned how to care for a leather jacket like a pro.

  1. Use a light, soft sponge and some soapy water for everyday problems and light marks. This includes make-up, dust and small amounts of dirt.
  2. Dirt tends to build up on the collar and cuffs, so pay special attention to these areas when cleaning.
  3. Dab the soapy water on the dirty area, using gentle motions rather than rubbing or soaking it.
  4. Avoid overly soaking the jacket, as this will just do more harm than good.
  5. Once the light marks have been removed with the water, you can wipe the area with a dry clean cloth to soak up the water.
  6. If this doesn’t do the trick and it still feels wet, simply leave it out to dry – away from artificial heat.
  7. Is your leather jacket starting to look a little dull? No worries, just use a small amount of leather upholstery spray, wax or polish with a soft cloth and it’ll be looking like new in no time.

Outfit grid leather jacket

How to clean the inside of a leather jacket:

Back away from the washing machine – unless you want to ruin the leather, that is. Okay, so you can’t use the easy option, but it’s really not as hard as you think. Keep following our guide on how to wash a leather jacket and you’ll realise that keeping it gleaming takes no time at all.


  • Start by turning the jacket inside out and hanging it up. This way you can be sure you’ve cleaned every part of the inside rather than just the back.
  • Grab the same soap and water solution you used to clean off the small marks off of the outside.
  • Focus on the armpit areas as well as the arms, as grime can easily build up here without you even noticing.
  • Repeat the same process as last time by dabbing or carefully wiping – not rubbing – the inside of the jacket.
  • Leave the jacket out to dry, avoiding artificial heat such as radiators and hair dryers. It may be tempting to speed up the process, but we promise it’s not worth the risk.
  • You can use a delicate fabric freshener to get rid of light smells that tend to linger in the armpit area. Double check the back of the can before using it to see if there are any warnings against using it on or near leather.


Mens and womens leather jackets

How to wash leather jackets – for tough stains

Accidents happen – even when you’re extra careful. Don’t panic if you manage to get a hard to shift stain on your jacket, we’ve got your back. Just follow these simple steps and your jacket will be extra fleeky in no time.


  • Liquid stains are easy to remove using a soapy water solution and a soft sponge to dab the area, then dab with a dry cloth before repeating the process, taking turns between the wet sponge and dry cloth until the stain has disappeared.
  • Had a bit of a ‘mare at the office and managed to get some ink on your jacket? No worries, there are a few methods of removing it. You can use saddle soap, which was made to clean tough stains on heavy-duty horse saddles. A little of this soap really goes a long way, so use it sparingly and make sure you wipe it all off when you’re done. Ink, for example, is a tricky stain to get rid of so you’re best off avoiding using a home solution or something like nail varnish as they can spread the stain or cause discolouration.
  • Oily or greasy stains can be a hard one to shift, but it is totally possible. A good method is to sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch directly onto the oil stain. Let it sit on the stain for an hour so it can fully absorb it before brushing off gently.
  • If the above doesn’t work, try using a cloth to dab a small amount of liquid washing detergent mixed with water.


Mens leather jacket

How to care for a leather jacket

Although regular maintenance is key to keeping your new purchase fresh, there are a few products to help you care for a leather jacket:


  • Use a waterproofing spray to add an extra layer of protection against liquid stains, which you can buy from shoe shops.
  • Specialist waxes and creams can bring back the shine, but only use products made specifically for leather.
  • Saddle soap doesn’t just remove tough stains, a small bit can be buffed into the jacket to bring some life back into the jacket.


How to store & restore your leather jacket

If you’ve worn your jacket to death and are desperate to revive it, it may be time to take it to a dry cleaner. They know exactly how to care for a leather jacket that needs some extra TLC. But if you want to give it a go at home, buffing in a tiny bit of leather conditioner with an old t-shirt or soft cloth can do wonders by bringing back the shine.


When it comes to storing, the hanger makes all the difference. Don’t go for a flimsy wire or plastic hanger as they simply can’t take the weight of leather. Pick up a padded or wooden hanger to avoid causing damage to the lining, or ruining the shoulders or general shape. If you need to store your leather jacket for a long period of time, a nylon garment bag might be a good purchase as it prevents stains while allowing the leather to breathe.


Now you’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to keep your leather looking fresh – try them out on your fave jacket this season and keep it looking good for longer.


If you’re still looking for the leather jacket of your dreams, why not explore the Superdry collections for men and women?

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