How to Clean a Leather Jacket: Steps to Follow for Removing Odors

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To keep up appearances one of man’s most basic needs is clothing. We need clothing to cover ourselves, to keep us warm and sometimes, simply to give us confidence as we step out into the world. For this last reason, the world of fashion has thrived and grown.

Fashion has become a very important cornerstone in our society and we need to constantly keep up appearances if anyone is going to take us seriously. All the way from the biggest super star to the humble worker, keeping up appearances in certain circles is known to be important. Many materials used to make clothing needs special attention.

A material like Leather constantly needs cleaning and care, not necessarily for a particular stain or blemish but simply for the purpose of maintenance. Some may not know how to clean a leather jacket or to maintain it, but it is a simple job. With the right materials and tools, your leather jacket will grace your shoulders for years to come.

How to Clean a Leather Jacket

Difference Between Faux and Real Leather

There are 3 different kinds of leather that need maintenance for them to last as long as they should; real leather, faux leather and suede. The main differences between real and faux leather is that real leather comes from animal hides and faux leather is made from polyurethane.

Sometimes you will get this indication from the label itself; faux leather will use the words “man-made fibers or pleather” and real leather will not, for example. There are many more marked differences in texture, smell, weight, elasticity and durability between both real and faux leather. Maintenance of these will also be different to an extent.

Before you consider cleaning any article of clothing, remember to look at the clothing label for any special instructions on caring for the material. This goes for leather garments as well. It will give you the best instructions on how to clean a leather jacket. After you have confirmed this (or there is no label) then you can take the appropriate steps to cleaning your leather garment.

Instructions For Cleaning Real and Faux Leather Jackets

How to Clean a Genuine Leather JacketCleaning real leather is basically the same process as cleaning faux leather. It is important to note that leather does not require a lot of cleaning and so can still be worn for months before it needs another clean. Excessive cleaning may damage the material. Make sure you pay attention to the label before beginning to clean your jacket.

Step 1: Gather together all your materials. You will need a leather cleaner, one microfiber towel, horse brush and a leather conditioner.

Step 2: Begin working on your leather jacket one section at a time. Take your leather cleaner and apply it on to the section of the jacket you’re going to clean and then taking a horse brush gently start to scrub.

Step 3: After you’re done scrubbing using a microfiber towel, wipe away the excess moisture off the leather jacket. Make sure to wipe it right away because if the cleaner dries on the surface, all the dirt you’ve brought up will re-deposit into the leather.

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Step 4: Now take the leather conditioner and apply the leather conditioner on to the leather jacket following the directions on the bottle. Follow these carefully because you do not want to damage your leather. For those cleaning faux leather jackets can choose whether to condition their jacket or not since it’s made from faux leather and not real animal skin. However, by conditioning, you can extend the life of your leather jacket.

Step 5: Store away your jacket safely make sure to hang it on a wide, padded hanger so that the garment keep its shape. Do not store away your leather jacket in plastic or any other nonporous material as leather needs to breathe.

How to Remove Odor From Real Leather Jackets

Real leather is made from animal products and it is harder to remove the odor as compared to faux. There are two main methods of removing odor from real leather jackets. These methods are:

Deals with Removing General Odors

Materials Required:

  • Soft Nylon Brush
  • Leather Cleaner
  • Newspaper
  • Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle
  • Baking Soda
  • Leather Conditioner
  • Soft Microfiber Cloth

Steps to Follow:

  1. Place the jacket outside to dry for 24 hours; 8 hours of UV sun ray kills the bacteria causing the odor.
  2. Use a soft nylon brush to brush the jacket.
  3. Use professional formulated leather cleaner and a soft cloth to wipe it.
  4. After cleaning, use a layer of newspaper to surround the jacket.
  5. Mix vinegar and water in the ratio of 1:5 – one part vinegar to 5 parts of water, spray the jacket slightly with the mixture and then air dry it.
  6. Cover the jacket with the baking soda for 2 to 5 days when it is completely dry and then use a soft brush to remove it.
  7. Lastly, use a leather conditioner to condition the jacket.

Deals with Removing Mildew and Bacteria Odors

Materials Required:

  • Water
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Soft Cloth

Steps to Follow:

  1. Mix rubbing alcohol and water in the ratio of 1:1 – one part of alcohol to one part of water.
  2. Dip a soft cloth in that solution.
  3. Rub the soft piece of cloth on the precise areas affected.

How to Remove Odor from Faux Leather Jackets

Faux leather is made from polyurethane. To remove odor from jackets made from faux leather, the following items are required

Materials Required:

  • A ¼ cup of warm water
  • A ¼ cup of vinegar
  • Soft cloth
  • Spray bottle

Steps to Follow:

  1. Mix the warm water and vinegar using the spray bottle and shake well.
  2. When the spray bottle is on mist option, spray its contents on the faux jacket one part at a time.
  3. Use a circular motion to wipe out each part so that the mixture can work on the material.
  4. Then allow the faux jacket to air dry fully.
  5. Repeat the whole process again if the odor does not go away.

Instructions for Cleaning Suede Leather Jackets

How to Clean a Suede Leather Jacket

Suede is a little easier to take care of although the stains can be a lot harder to remove depending on what the item is. Here are some simple steps to maintaining your suede jacket:

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Step 1: Get your cleaning equipment; a brush, dry cloth, suede eraser or pencil eraser and suede leather protectant spray.

Step 2: Gently rub the suede jacket with soft dry cloth or towel to restore its soft and fuzzy texture.

Step 3: Brush the material gently to clean it. Do not scrub the material but brush it in the same direction repeatedly.

Step 4: Then using a regular pencil white eraser or suede eraser remove any scuff marks. If you’re jacket contains any stains you can check our post how to clean nubuck and suede that would teach you how to remove specific types of stains.

Step 5: Apply leather protector spray designed specifically for suede to protect it from any future stains.

Step 6: Store your jacket away safely until your next wear.

If your jacket is wet, hang it to dry on a plastic coat hanger – not wood or metal. Shape the jacket while damp or wet on the hanger. Close up all the buttons and make sure the pockets lie flat then wait for it to dry. Do not dry it in direct heat or it will ruin the material. After it dries, follow the cleaning process above.

How to Remove Unpleasant Odor from a Suede Leather Jacket

A suede leather jacket is the most treasured item in the wardrobe of many people. But due to the jacket being porous, it is easy to acquire unpleasant odor from different items in the house.

Some common causes of bad odor on suede jackets are dampness, smoke or dry cleaning chemicals. If you have been having this problem and you are thinking of tossing out your expensive suede jacket, relax as here is the solution.

Materials Required:

  • Clothes Hanger
  • Large Plastic Bag
  • Twist Ties or Rubber Bands
  • Clean Sock
  • Baking Soda
  • Fabric Softener Sheet
  • Clothes Drying Machine

Steps to Follow:

  1. First, cover your jacket in a large plastic bag used for dry cleaning purposes with a sturdy hanger. Use a rubber band or a twist tie to close off and seal the opening of the bag all around the opening hook of the hanger.
  2. Now, take baking soda and fill it into a clean sock. Then tie the far open end of the sock very tightly using a rubber band, a twist tie or knot the sock.
  3. Put the sock at the bottom of the dry cleaning plastic bag and cover the top opening of the plastic bag by knotting or with a rubber band or a twist tie.
  4. Hang your suede jacket for at least five days. This is to allow the baking soda to absorb all the odors. After five days, go and check whether the odor has completely been absorbed. If not, repeat the third step using fresh soda in a sock.
  5. Dampen a dry fabric softener sheet slightly with water and put your suede jacket and the sheet in clothes dryer. Set them to dry only on air and set the fabric softener sheet and the jacket to run for ten minutes. This step gives the suede jacket a good smell although the process should be done cautiously. This is because; the tumbling of the machine might make the suede jacket more soft, less stiff and rigid. All in all, this step is optional. this is how to clean leather jacket.
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Alternative Methods of Cleaning Leather Jackets

The Use of a Damp Cloth

clean a leather jacket using damp clothIf you want to do a light cleaning on your leather jacket, a soft cloth and water will help in removing dirt and dust residues. In doing this, you need to start by dampening the piece of cloth with water and then wringing out excess of it. From there, you can gently wipe the jacket downwards. The main reason for wiping the jacket downwards is to make sure that no stains remain on the jacket afterward. In order to achieve the right effective, it is advisable to clean the entire jacket rather than the areas which look rather dirty. Once that is done you can hang the leather jacket on a hanger and let it to dry either indoors or outdoors. This method of cleaning is however effective for dust related issues as opposed to food spills and the likes.

Hand Washing

how to hand wash a leather jacketIf wiping does not remove dirt from the jacket, further cleaning would be required in order to attain the best results. In hand washing a leather jacket, you need to come up with a mixture of warm water together with detergent in a small bucket or bowl. After doing so, you need to use a clean rag or a soft piece of cloth for dipping into the water and then use it to wash. Wipe gently down every part of it and then allow it to dry outside. The effects of hand washing are pretty much pronounced and many people seem to prefer the option. This method works only best for faux leather jackets.

Machine Washing

how to machine wash a leather jacketMachine washing is also a method that is commonly used in cleaning leather jackets. However, not all leather jackets are machine washable. You, therefore, need to check the label to ensure you do not use the wrong method of washing. If the label says that the jacket can only be cleaned through hand washing, you can set the hand washing setting in your machine. Otherwise, go for the gentle cycle. You can add a small detergent which is dry free to your washer. As soon as the cycle has been completed, you can hang the leather jacket outside to dry. The best part about machine washing is that it takes a short period of time. It is also able to reach unreachable places on the jacket and clean them.

Bottom Line

Leather is a very good and durable material. Some kinds of leather may need expert care. Do consult a specialist on how to clean a leather jacket if you are not sure you can do it on your own. If you follow all the instructions given, your leather jacket should last you a very long time.

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