Can You Dry Clean a Leather Jacket?


It’s a dilemma we’ve all faced at some point or another: you spill coffee on your leather jacket and now it’s stained. Or maybe the dog just couldn’t help but jump up and leave his muddy paw prints all over it. No matter how dirty your leather jacket becomes, one thing is for sure – you need to clean it! In this article, we will discuss the best ways to dry clean a leather jacket so that it looks good as new.

What is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is a process that uses chemicals instead of water to clean clothes and fabrics. This method is often used for delicate items that can’t be washed in a washing machine or by hand, such as certain types of clothing, upholstery, and draperies.

What is Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is also effective for removing stains that are difficult to remove with other cleaning methods. Dry cleaning solvents are usually petroleum-based and can be damaging to both the environment and your health if not used properly.

However, you should not dry clean your leather jacket unless it is absolutely necessary. Leather is a very delicate material, and the chemicals used in dry cleaning can damage it. If you must dry clean your leather jacket, take it to a professional dry cleaner who specializes in cleaning leather garments.

For example, naphtha and TCE (trichloroethylene) are two common dry cleaning solvents that have been said to be toxic. It’s important to note that not all dry cleaners use these harmful chemicals – there are now many “green” dry cleaners that use safer, more environmentally friendly solvents. [1], [2]

Risks of Dry Cleaning Leather

So now that we know what dry cleaning is, let’s talk about why you should avoid it if possible.

Dry cleaning solvents can remove the natural oils from leather, causing it to become dry and brittle. Over time, this can lead to cracks and even holes in the leather.

The chemicals in dry cleaning solvents can also cause discoloration of the leather. If you have a light-colored leather jacket, there’s a good chance that it will come out of the dry cleaner looking dull and lifeless.

And finally, dry cleaning is just plain bad for the environment. The toxic chemicals in dry cleaning solvents can pollute the air and water, and they often end up in landfills where they can leach into the ground and contaminate the soil. [1]

What are Alternatives to Dry Cleaning Leather Jackets?

What are Alternatives to Dry Cleaning Leather Jackets

As you can see, dry cleaning isn’t recommended for your precious leather jacket. So what are some better alternatives?

One option is to simply spot clean your jacket with a damp cloth when it gets dirty. Leather hates chemicals, but excessive moisture can also damage it. So avoid washing your jacket in a machine or dunking it in water.

Leather cleaners are a better option for cleaning your jacket. You can find these cleaners at most leather stores or online. Make sure to test the cleaner on a small, hidden patch of leather first to ensure it won’t damage the material.

If your jacket is starting to look a bit dull, you can use a leather conditioner to revitalize it. A leather conditioner is a product that is used to keep leather looking new and shiny. It is also used to protect leather from drying out and cracking. Leather conditioners come in many different forms, including sprays, liquids, creams, and waxes.

Simply apply the conditioner to a clean, dry cloth and rub it into the leather in a circular motion. This will help keep the leather soft and supple, and prevent it from cracking over time.

Another alternative is to take your jacket to a professional leather cleaner. These businesses specialize in cleaning and restoring all types of leather products. They will likely have better success in getting your jacket looking like new again without damaging it. [1], [3]

How to Handle Dry Cleaning Different Leather Types?

Still, dry cleaning can be used as a last resort if your leather jacket is heavily soiled or stained and you can’t clean it any other way. In this case, it’s important to choose a professional dry cleaner who specializes in cleaning leather garments and knows how to handle different types of leather. Tanned and untanned leather for example can handle the process differently.

Tanned leather

Tanned leather is treated with chemicals and dyes during the tanning process, making it more durable and resistant to stains. This type of leather can be dry cleaned without fear of damage or discoloration.

Untanned leather

Dry cleaning untanned leather is a bit more tricky as this type of leather is more delicate and can be easily damaged. Contrary to tanned leather, it’s not treated at all, making it more sensitive to water and heat. For this reason, it’s best to avoid dry cleaning untanned leather unless absolutely necessary as the chemicals used in the process can strip away the natural oils, leaving the leather dry and brittle. If you must dry clean your untanned leather jacket, make sure to take it to a professional who knows how to handle this type of leather. [2], [4]

Tips on Dry Cleaning and Handling Leather Jackets

Tips on Dry Cleaning and Handling Leather Jackets

If you decide that dry cleaning is the best way to clean your leather jacket, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure that the process goes smoothly. And some tips on how to take care of it afterwards.

Read the label carefully

The first step is to check the label on your jacket if you haven’t already. Many leather jackets will have specific cleaning instructions, which you should always follow to the letter. If there are no specific instructions, or if you’re not sure what they mean, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and take your jacket to a professional dry cleaner.

Some garments will have a warning that dry cleaning is not recommended, in which case you should definitely avoid it.

Use a trustworthy service

When you entrust your leather jacket to a dry cleaning service, you want to be sure that they will take good care of it. Look for a reputable and experienced cleaner who specializes in leather garments. If you don’t have any recommendations, ask the staff at your local leather goods store for a referral.

Moisturize your leather regularly

One of the best ways to keep your leather looking its best is to moisturize it on a regular basis. This will help to protect the leather from drying out and cracking, and will also make it more resistant to dirt and stains. Moisturizing leather is easy to do using a specialized leather conditioner.

Leather should be conditioned every six months to prevent it from drying out and cracking. If you live in a dry climate or use your leather jacket frequently, you may need to condition it more often.

Remove the plastic coating right after dry cleaning

When you first get your leather jacket dry cleaned, the plastic coating that protects the leather during cleaning will still be on. It’s important to remove this as soon as possible so that the leather can breathe and prevent it from drying out.

Make sure to empty your pockets beforehand

Make sure to empty your pockets beforehand

This is an important step for any type of clothing that you plan on dry cleaning, but it is especially crucial for leather. Small items in your pockets can cause indentations or other damage to the leather during the cleaning process.

Always store jacket by hanging

Most people don’t think about how they store their leather jacket as long as it’s not taking up too much space. But it’s actually important to hang your leather jacket rather than fold it. This is because folding can cause creases and damage the leather over time. If you must fold it, make sure to do so along the seams rather than across them.

Hanging also helps preserve the shape of your jacket and prevents sagging, which can make it look old and worn out. If you don’t have a lot of space to spare, you can buy a special hanger that’s designed for storing jackets. These hangers usually have wide shoulders to help support the weight of the jacket without causing any damage. [2], [4]

How to Deodorize Your Leather Jacket After Dry Cleaning Leather?

Dry cleaning your leather jacket will remove dirt, stains, and odors. However, the dry cleaning process can also leave behind a lingering chemical odor. To remove this odor, you will need to deodorize your jacket.

The best way to deodorize leather is to use a natural product like baking soda. Baking soda is a gentle abrasive that will absorb odors without damaging the leather.

Remove loose dirt and debris

Before deodorizing your leather jacket, you should remove any loose dirt and debris. This will help to prevent the dirt from being spread during the cleaning process.

To remove loose dirt and debris, start by vacuuming your jacket with a soft brush attachment. Then, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down the surface of the jacket. Be sure to avoid using harsh cleaners or scrubbing too hard, as this could damage the leather.

Once you have removed all of the loose dirt and debris, you are ready to deodorize your jacket.

Create the cleaning solution

Next, you will need to create a cleaning solution. This solution will help to get rid of the chemical smell left behind by the dry cleaning process.

The best way to clean leather is with a mild soap and water solution. You can create this solution by mixing one teaspoon of mild dish soap with one cup of warm water.

Apply the cleaning solution

Apply the cleaning solution

Once you have created the cleaning solution, it is time to apply it to your jacket. To do this, wet a soft cloth in the solution and then gently wipe down your jacket. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the jacket

Make sure the cloth is only slightly dampened. You do not want to soak the leather as this can cause damage from water.

Wipe down the leather with a damp cloth

After you have applied the cleaning solution, you will need to wipe down the leather with a damp cloth. This will help to remove any soap residue and further clean the surface of the leather.

To do this, wet a soft cloth in clean water and then gently wipe down your jacket. Make sure to cover the entire surface of the jacket. Once you are finished, dry the leather with a clean towel.

Mix the flaxseed oils with vinegar

Chances are your leather is probably going to be in need of some serious moisturizing after dry cleaning. You don’t want to just put any old lotion on your leather, though. Instead, mix up a homemade leather conditioner using flaxseed oil and vinegar.

Flaxseed oil is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for restoring moisture to dry leather. Vinegar will help to restore the pH balance of the leather, making it softer and more supple.

To make your own leather conditioner, mix together two parts flaxseed oil and one part vinegar. Make sure to give your mixture a good stir before you apply it to your leather jacket.

Applying the conditioner

Once you’ve mixed up your leather conditioner, it’s time to apply it to your jacket. Start by putting on a pair of gloves to protect your hands from the oil. Then, use a clean, soft cloth to rub the conditioner into the leather in small circular motions.

Continue rubbing the conditioner into the leather until it’s evenly distributed. Once you’re done, allow the conditioner to soak into the leather for at least an hour or more before wiping off any excess with a clean cloth.

Don’t rub the conditioner into the leather too vigorously, as this can damage the fibers. Just be sure to work it in until it’s evenly distributed.

Hang your leather jacket to dry

After you’ve applied the conditioner, hang your leather jacket up to dry in a cool, dark place. Avoid direct sunlight or heat, as this can cause the leather to crack and fade.

Hang your leather jacket to dry

Allow your jacket to air dry for at least 24 hours before wearing it again. This will give the conditioner time to soak into the leather and protect it from further damage. [2], [4]

How Often Should You Clean Your Leather Jacket?

You should perform a proper annual cleaning of your leather jacket at least once a year to remove dirt, dust, and body oils that can build up over time. If you live in a dry climate or don’t wear your jacket often, you may be able to get away with dry cleaning it every two years.

If you spill something on your jacket or it becomes excessively dirty, you may need to have it cleaned more frequently. It’s always best to consult with a professional dry cleaner who can assess the condition of your jacket and determine the best cleaning method.

Exploring Leather Jacket Cleaning Methods

When it comes to cleaning leather jackets, there are various methods to consider. Below, we’ve provided a table that compares different cleaning approaches, their effectiveness, and the level of difficulty.

Cleaning Method Effectiveness Difficulty Level
Dry Cleaning May not be effective for all types of stains, can be harsh on leather. Moderate
Spot Cleaning with Soap and Water Effective for light cleaning and general maintenance. Easy
Specialized Leather Cleaner Effective for specific stains and overall leather cleaning. Moderate
Professional Leather Cleaning Highly effective, recommended for deep cleaning and stubborn stains. Easy (when done by professionals)

Explanation of the Table:

  • Cleaning Method: Lists different approaches for cleaning leather jackets.
  • Effectiveness: Indicates how effective each method is in terms of cleaning and stain removal.
  • Difficulty Level: Rates the level of difficulty for each cleaning method, with “Easy” indicating simpler methods and “Moderate” for those requiring more care and attention.

Choosing the right cleaning method for your leather jacket depends on factors such as the type of stains, the jacket’s condition, and your comfort level with the cleaning process. It’s essential to consider the method that best suits your needs and ensures the longevity of your leather jacket.


How do you professionally clean a leather jacket?

If you want to ensure that your leather jacket is cleaned properly, it is best to take it to a professional cleaner. There are many ways to clean a leather jacket at home, but unless you are experienced with cleaning leather, it is best to leave it to the professionals.

Does dry cleaning damage leather?

While dry cleaning is no issue for garments made of natural fibers like cotton and wool, the jury is still out on whether it’s safe for leather. On one hand, the tumbling action and chemicals in dry cleaning can cause shrinkage, color loss, and other types of damage to delicate leather. On the other hand, if your jacket is already in good condition, dry cleaning may not do any harm.

If you decide to go ahead with dry cleaning, be sure to take your jacket to a cleaner that specializes in leather garments. They will have the necessary equipment and experience to clean your jacket without damaging it.

How do you wash a leather jacket without ruining it?

If you must wash your leather jacket, do so by hand using cold water and a mild soap. Hang the jacket to dry, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Once it’s dry, apply a leather conditioner to keep the material soft and pliable.

If you are worried about potentially ruining your leather jacket, it is best to take it to a professional cleaner. They will have the experience and knowledge to clean your jacket without damaging it.

Can you put a leather jacket in the washing machine?

No, you should never put a leather jacket in the washing machine. The agitation from the washing cycle can damage the leather, causing it to crack and break. In addition, the heat from the drying cycle can also cause the leather to shrink and become misshapen.

How can I dry clean my leather jacket at home?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to dry clean a leather jacket at home. If you’re wondering how to dry clean a leather jacket at home, the best thing you can do is take it to a professional. They will have the proper equipment and products to safely clean your jacket without damaging it.

If you’re set on cleaning your leather jacket at home, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, always test any cleaners or conditioners on an inconspicuous area of the jacket before using them on the entire garment. This will help you avoid causing any damage to the leather.

Is it safe to dry clean all types of leather jackets?

Dry cleaning is generally safe for most types of leather jackets, but it’s essential to check the care label and consult with a professional cleaner. Some delicate or treated leathers may not be suitable for dry cleaning.

What should I look for in a dry cleaner for my leather jacket?

When choosing a dry cleaner for your leather jacket, look for one with experience in handling leather garments. Ensure they use a gentle cleaning process, avoid harsh chemicals, and have a good reputation for preserving the quality of leather items.

Can I remove stains from my leather jacket through dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning can effectively remove many stains from leather jackets, but the success depends on the type and age of the stain. It’s best to inform the cleaner about the specific stain so they can choose the appropriate cleaning method.

How often should I dry clean my leather jacket?

The frequency of dry cleaning your leather jacket depends on how often you wear it and its exposure to dirt and stains. In general, it’s recommended to clean it when it appears soiled or stained rather than on a set schedule.

Are there any precautions I should take before sending my leather jacket for dry cleaning?

Before sending your leather jacket for dry cleaning, remove any loose items like belts or detachable fur collars. Also, communicate any specific concerns or stains to the cleaner to ensure they take the necessary precautions.

Can I store my leather jacket immediately after dry cleaning?

It’s best to allow your leather jacket to air out for a day or two after dry cleaning to ensure any residual cleaning odors dissipate. Store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent damage.

What should I do if my leather jacket feels stiff after dry cleaning?

If your leather jacket feels stiff after dry cleaning, gently flex and massage it to restore its suppleness. You can also apply a leather conditioner to soften and nourish the leather.

Is it advisable to dry clean vintage or older leather jackets?

Dry cleaning vintage or older leather jackets can be risky, as the leather may be more fragile. Consult with a professional cleaner experienced in handling such items to assess the feasibility and potential risks of cleaning.

Can I trust DIY leather cleaning kits for my jacket?

DIY leather cleaning kits can be convenient for minor cleaning and maintenance. However, for significant stains or valuable leather jackets, it’s often safer to rely on professional dry cleaning services to avoid unintentional damage.

Useful Video: Bring Your Leather Jacket Back To Life In JUST 8 Minutes!


When you’re dealing with a nasty stain on your leather jacket, it’s best to take it to a professional cleaner. But what about dry cleaning? Can you dry clean a leather jacket, or will it ruin the material?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that leather is a natural material and as such, it’s sensitive to water and heat. For this reason, it’s best to avoid dry cleaning leather if possible. If you must dry clean your jacket, make sure to take it to a professional who knows how to handle different types of leather.

And remember that you will most likely need to deodorize and condition your jacket after it’s been dry cleaned, as the chemicals used in the process can strip away the natural oils that protect leather.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your leather jacket stays looking its best for years to come!