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How To Clean Your Leather Jacket

New, vintage, motorbike, fashion  or sports leather jacket this is all you need to keep it looking great for years to come.

Clean and condition at least once a year but obviously more if worn a lot or if it has been exposed to rain or dirt.  

A general caveat is do not use on aniline leathers or suede for further info on types of suede please click here but it is very rare to encounter analine leather jackets. Always do a small test patch somewhere inconspicuous, perhaps on the inside of a cuff. By its natural characteristics there will be some heightening or darkening of the original colour as natural oils are restored which will settle as it is absorbed and dries.

  1. Wipe over the entire jacket surface using Pickstones Leather Wash on a clean sponge or soft lint free cloth – (this prevents over wetting ) and clean away any surface grime etc. For particular stains see more information listed below.

  2. Finish with Pickstones Leather Balm which is a restorative conditioner working deep onto and on the micro fibre structure of the leather leaving a protective sheen and finish that will prevent the ingress of damaging excessive molecules such as dirt, dust, bacteria and moisture. Use sparingly but areas that are particularly dry may need a further application as too areas that flex and bend a lot. Leave 10 mins to dry and then depending upon the finish required or the type of leather polish with a soft cloth or brush.

    For some vintage and specialist leathers which have various textures such as ostrich, snake, alligator or calf skin leather I use the sort of brush that is used these days for applying soft wax to shabby chic furniture aka “Annie Sloane”  as it helps remove any excess from these textures and intricate areas.

Neither of the applications will damage any stitching or metal fastenings or ornamentation rather the reverse and it is a personal choice as to whether to cover any coloured embroidery etc.   I always do as it helps to equally protect the embroidery cotton fibre from sun and moisture damage and protects where the needle has made an entry point in the leather.


Why Pickstones Leather Care is better than dry cleaning and much much cheaper! Dry cleaning uses harsh cleaning chemicals and below is an extract from a dry cleaning guide and web site

Loss of Colour. Do not be surprised if a slight variance in the depth of colour occurs after cleaning. Since a garment is constructed from skins obtained from different parts of an animal or animals, colourfastness may vary. Some leather dyes may also not be resistant to dry cleaning fluids. Spray dyeing can correct some colour loss. This is performed by the dry cleaner. Some changes are almost always unavoidable, particularly when processing handpainted suede vests.

Loss of oils. Oils are used during the tanning process to keep the leather supple. Dry cleaning may rob some of these oils, reducing suppleness. Special additives can be used by your cleaner to restore it, but a slight change may still be sensed when the garment is returned to you.”

For the most part jackets are sent to the dry cleaners not particularly because of the surface areas but because of the lining becoming whiffy or sweat stained. Often this is not fully addressed as because the dry cleaners are wary themselves of the damage that could be incurred by the outer leather inadequate attention is given to the linings.

Instead use a hand held steam cleaner to clean the lining if necessary applying a stain remover stick such as “vanish” to the stains first. Then clean the rest of the jacket as above.

Keep your jacket on a well padded hanger and if necessary stuff creased inside elbow areas of the arms with acid free tissue paper to reduce the crease damage. Make sure it stored in a ventilated non damp area away from direct sunlight and do not cover with plastic  - a paper cover over the collar and shoulder area is the best remedy against every day dust.

Particular Stains & Tips For Removal
Unfortunately accidents do happen and then spot treatment is required but always do a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the jacket first