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. 

Toothpaste 

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.

Next Up

How to Clean a Leather Purse

Keep your leather purse looking shiny and clean with these tips from DIY experts.

How to Clean White Leather

Don't fret about scuffs and stains on your white leather sofa, purse or shoes. Keep leather furniture and accessories looking as good as new with these tips from DIY experts.

How to Clean Cork Floors

Learn how to safely clean and seal a cork floor with these simple tips from DIY experts.

How to Clean Ceramic Tile Countertops

Dirt, stains and bacteria on ceramic tile countertops can make any kitchen or bathroom unsanitary. Here's how to properly clean ceramic tile and grout to keep counters beautiful and germ-free.

How to Clean Windows Like a Pro

Learn the three simple steps and the proper tools you need to make your windows look as if they were professionally cleaned.

Polishing Wood Furniture

Learn how to make your own natural furniture polish and get expert tips and techniques for cleaning wood.

Tips for Cleaning Using Vodka

Think outside the martini glass with these practical tips for using vodka as a cleaning agent.

Laundry Care: How to Remove Tough Stains

Learn the six secrets to getting rid of stains caused by wine, coffee, makeup and more.

How to Care for Solid-Surface Countertops

Preserve the look of your granite, marble or tile countertop with these maintenance tips.

Top 10 Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar is an inexpensive, healthy way to clean and disinfect your home.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.