How to Clean a Leather Jacket

There's no need to spend a fortune on dry cleaning a leather jacket if it's dirty or stained. Here are some DIY solutions for making this stylish fashion accessory look as good as new.

Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket

Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket Close-Up

Photo by: Kristina Castagnola

Kristina Castagnola

Leather jackets put a shot of cool in your wardrobe. They’re expensive, though, and they can be expensive to clean since you can’t throw them in the washing machine with your jeans. You can clean your coat at home and keep it looking good without paying dry cleaner prices. Here’s how to clean a leather jacket.

Don’t use ammonia- or bleach-based cleaners to clean leather. They can damage the finish and cause the leather to get excessively dry or even crack. Don’t use too much water, either, as it can stain leather.

Clean spills on the leather jacket immediately with a soft cloth. Leather is porous and will absorb liquids, causing a stain to form. Leather can also scratch, so keep sharp objects away from it. 

To clean leather, mix a solution of warm water and dish soap, dip a soft cloth into it, wring it out and wipe the jacket. You can also make a cleaning solution of one part vinegar to one part water. Use a second clean, damp cloth to wipe off the cleaning solution. Dry the jacket with a towel. 

To remove stains from from your jacket, grab one of these items and get cleaning. 


Use your finger to apply non-gel toothpaste to the stain. Rub gently with a soft cloth, till stain lifts. Do not scrub or you could scratch or discolor the leather. Wipe toothpaste off with a clean, damp cloth. 

Nail Polish Remover 

Get rid of ink stains and scuffs by blotting the area with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. Don’t rub the spot or you could make the ink spread. Blot gently until the stain is gone. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth and dry with a towel.

Baking Soda or Cornstarch 

Remove oil or grease stains by sprinkling baking soda or cornstarch on the spot. Rub gently, with a damp cloth. Let sit for a few hours or overnight. The soda or starch will absorb the oil. Wipe off the powder with a soft cloth and dry with a soft towel.

Rubbing Alcohol

Want to know how to clean mold off leather? Mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water. Dampen a cloth with the alcohol solution and wipe on the affected area. Wipe clean with another damp cloth. This will also remove mildew.

Now that your jacket is clean, apply a leather conditioner to keep it from drying out and cracking, and to make it resistant to future stains. You can buy a commercial leather conditioner or make your own by mixing one part vinegar to two parts linseed oil. Apply to leather, let sit for about 15 minutes and buff with a soft cloth until the leather shines. Knowing how to clean leather will make your jacket look great and last longer.

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