Maintaining and properly cleaning a leather jacket

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Before you can start cleaning and caring for your leather jacket, you need to know what kind of leather you are dealing with.

There are two different types, which have different characteristics and should be cleaned in different ways.

Water is absorbed by rough leather, but not by smooth leather. With one exception: “Aniline leather belongs to the smooth leathers, but it still absorbs drops,” explains expert Jörg Rausch from the Leather Center in Roßdorf near Göttingen, Germany. So if you have a smooth leather jacket, you should check to see if it’s aniline leather. If not, you can treat your jacket like any other smooth leather.

How to be sure that something is made of genuine leather?

First indication: the genuine leather label. Problem: It is not obligatory and it says nothing about the quality. You can only be really sure when you have worn the jacket. Leather stretches with time, is breathable.

How to get smooth leather clean again

Stains and dirt are relatively easy to get out of smooth leather jackets. “You can clean the jacket dry with a soft brush or wet with leather cleaner,” says Rausch. In the second case, the rule is to try the cleaner on a hidden area first. “Use the agent from seam to seam for safety, so that the surface remains uniform,” says the expert.

Removing stains from suede leather

For rough leather, Rausch recommends, “If the stain is fresh, soak up the moisture with a paper towel without rubbing.”Dry stains and dirt should not be cleaned wet. “This usually causes stain edges to form,” the leather expert knows. That’s why Rausch recommends contacting a professional for stains that can’t be removed.

Can you wash leather jackets in the machine?

If the jacket needs a basic cleaning, you can also wash the leather jacket in the washing machine. “For this you need a pH-neutral and refatting leather detergent,” says Rausch.

For appliqués, the jacket should be turned inside out before washing. “Follow the washing instructions,” advises the expert. In his experience, most jackets survive washing in the machine well. “But if you’ve spent several thousand euros on the piece, you should have it professionally cleaned,” says Rausch.

The expert also recommends professional cleaning for leather jackets with different colored parts. “The colors could otherwise bleed and discolor each other.”Give the good piece in a cleaning, then best in one with the RAL quality mark of the German leather clothing industry.

How to dry a leather jacket after cleaning?

Dry the wet jacket in the air in the shade or with the cold program in the dryer. When the leather is no longer damp, it usually feels stiffer. “I recommend kneading and pulling the jacket to soften it back up,” Rausch said. “With a motorcycle jacket, that’s a workout in itself.”

Can you actually iron leather?

Only very carefully, with a dry cloth over it and at medium temperature. Try it first on the inside trim. If it is not absolutely necessary, then rather fingers away from the iron.

Do you have to care for leather jackets?

Over time, leather loses grease and moisture and becomes dry. For smooth leather jackets, the expert therefore advises: “Apply leather grease or oil sparingly on a regular basis.”This also protects the jacket against moisture. Rough leather, however, should be impregnated, preferably directly after purchase. But beware: “Even with impregnation, you should not wear the jacket in rainy weather,” says Rausch. 

What do I do when I get in the rain with suede?

Never put leather on the heater. Better: hang in the air, but not directly in the sun. The light makes the material hard and brittle and bleaches the colors. You can rub out water stains with a rubber brush in the direction of the grain.

The correct storage of the leather jacket

“Leather jackets should hang loosely,” says Rausch. If the jacket has to go into the suitcase, the expert advises: “Pack it smoothly and then take it out soon.

Otherwise wrinkles arise.”So that the leather does not mold, the jacket should not be stored in plastic or in the damp cellar. And another tip from the expert: “Oiled jackets can stain and should therefore be kept away from light-colored clothing in particular.”

Conclusion: With the right care leather survives even the greatest strains

If you want to enjoy your leather jacket as long as possible, you should care for it regularly, hang it up properly and preferably not clean it too often. Because even proper cleaning puts a little strain on leather every time.

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