The ultimate jacket care guide: How to wash and care for leather jackets, wool coats, and more
As the months turn colder, it’s time to say goodbye to your flip flops and say hello again to your favourite jackets. But can you wash a leather jacket? Do you know how to get smell out of a denim jacket? Whether you’ve opted for a leather jacket or a woollen winter warmer, this ultimate jacket care guide has you covered.
How to clean leather jackets
Ah, the leather jacket, the ultimate *cool person* item. But though you can channel rock star nonchalance when you’re wearing it, that devil-may-care attitude is not the answer to how to wash leather jackets. Leather — whether this is real leather, or synthetic or plant-based leather — is almost always unsuitable for machine washing and should never be soaked in water during cleaning. Always check the care label before you start to clean any leather item for any special requirements. Then, follow these steps with care:
- Create a mixture of soapy water and use a soft, clean sponge to gently wash away dirt, dust, and debris. Pay special attention to the collars and cuffs.
- Use gentle circular motions to wash away the dirt – avoid rubbing or soaking the areas as this can damage the leather.
- Once the dirt has been removed, use a new, clean, and dry cloth to wipe away any water.
- If your jacket is looking a little dull, you can use a small amount of leather conditioner or upholstery wax with a soft cloth to buff out the leather.
Top tip: If you’re using new cleaning materials on your jacket, test them out on a hidden section first to be safe.
How to clean leather jacket lining
To freshen up fabric lining on your leather jacket without damaging the outer leather, you can use Day 2 spray to lift odours, and leave the fabric feeling soft and renewed.
- Turn your jacket inside out and lay it out, inside-up.
- Spray Day 2 evenly over the fabric.
- Smooth the fabric out with your hands.
- Hang the jacket up, still inside-out, for 15 minutes.
- Turn it out again the right way.
How to take care of leahter jackets
No matter what is ‘in’ or ‘out’ that season, a leather jacket is always a winner. So, now you know how to wash leather jackets, it’s time to find out how to care for them and ensure they stay in good nick year after year.
- Use a waterproofing spray available at most shoe shops, to help add a layer of protection against liquids. Take care to apply this only to the outside of the jacket and not on the lining inside!
- If you’re using specialist sprays or waxes to help buff the leather, make sure to read the instructions so as not to damage the leather – if in doubt, ask a specialist.
- Make sure you store your leather jacket on a hanger so it keeps its shape – we know it’s tempting to dump it on ‘the chair’ at the end of the day, but this can cause it to lose its shape and potentially come into contact with dirt.
For more information on how to store clothing to keep them in shape, head to this handy guide.
How to clean wool leather jackets
Just to complicate things a bit further, some leather jackets come with a wool lining. While they look great, can you wash a leather jacket with wool in the same way? Whether this is a synthetic fleece or any type of natural wool, it’ll probably need to be freshened up every now and again. You’ll just need to add a few extra steps to your leather jacket cleaning process:
- Clean the leather following the steps above.
- As we will see below, wool can easily shrink when washed. Instead, use a still bristled brush to help remove dirt.
- If brushing the wool alone is not enough, give the fabric a spritz of Day 2 spray (following the same steps as above) to remove odours and leave it feeling fresh.
- If there are any visible stains, you can use a very small amount of soapy water and dab this onto the wool.
- Allow the coat to dry flat, out of direct sunlight.
How to clean wool coats and jackets
Knowing how to clean wool jackets and coats can be tricky — for a thorough clean, they should ideally be taken to the dry cleaners to prevent damage or shrinking. However, for quick maintenance, these simple steps have you covered.
- Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove any dirt. Brush from top to bottom, making sure you brush in the same direction.
- Add a teaspoon of mild detergent to a bowl of soapy water. Using a damp cloth, gently dab away any stains.
- Leave your coat to dry flat.
It's very important to make sure that woollen garments are never exposed to high temperatures during washing and drying, as high heat causes the fibres to shrink and felt. When not in use, hang your wool coat up on a wooden hanger with all the buttons done up - this will help it retain its shape.
For more detail on caring for different types of wool, check out our guide.
Cleaning denim jackets
A denim jacket is always a great option for simple style. But how do you get the smell out of a denim jacket when you’ve bought it vintage? Worried that denim jackets shrink in the wash? Here’s what you need to know:
When spot-cleaning jeans, pay special attention to the colour and finish of the denim before you start. If it’s a deep indigo or highly pigmented colour, vigorous scrubbing could cause discolouration and lightening of that one area. Check the care label before you start and concentrate spot cleaning as closely as possible to the stain itself, pushing from the outside of the stain inwards.
Start spot-cleaning with water only: sometimes this is enough, and it is unlikely to cause any adverse lightening effects. For more stubborn stains, if appropriate for the denim type, add a drop of detergent to the water and try using an old toothbrush to work it out.
Washing denim jackets in the machine
If you’re facing a bit more dirt than your old toothbrush can handle, or you want to know how to get smells out of a denim jacket, you can always give it a quick refresh with Day 2 spray. This can lengthen out the time between washes and help you to preserve the colour for longer. For a more thorough clean, you can stick it in the washing machine.
- Look at the care label first, to double check that your denim is suitable for machine washing.
- Turn your jacket inside out.
- Wash your jacket on a gentle, short, cold cycle. Heat will cause the colour to run so we want to avoid it where possible!
- Wash with a gentle detergent to help protect the colour, and add Comfort fabric conditioner to leave your jacket super-soft and freshly scented.
- When your wash cycle is finished, lay your jacket flat to dry. It’s important NOT to tumble dry your jacket (unless you want it to fit your dog/cat/small human).
And that’s it! No matter what material your jacket is made from, whether you need to know how to take care of leather jackets or freshen up your denim, this handy guide has you covered.