Suede or leather jackets are the hero pieces of every guy's wardrobe; they’re effortlessly cool, insanely durable, and often come with a high ticket price to match. We want to keep our suede or leather jackets looking and feeling their best for as long as possible, but cleaning and caring for them is not as simple as throwing them in the wash with your jeans, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help ensure that the star of your coat closet stays that way for a long time.

The Moto Jacket in Whiskey, Espresso and Black Steerhide

Cleaning A Leather Jacket

While most high quality leathers are extremely durable and should last you a lifetime of wear, it doesn’t mean they’re impervious to stains. Since leather is a naturally porous material (it is a hide, after all) liquids can set into the material if left untreated, causing stubborn stains.

Your first line of defense is speed. If you can wipe up the spill immediately the liquid won’t have time to sink into the leather and you should be alright. If, however, the spill has already become a stain, here’s how to treat it:

  1. Mix a gentle detergent or dish soap with some lukewarm water and get three microfiber towels ready. Avoid any ammonia or bleach based cleaners.
  2. Dip your first rag into the water/soap mix, wring it out, and begin working on the stain in a gentle buffing motion. Continue this process until the stain is gone.
  3. Dip a clean rag into some plain, non-soapy water and gently wipe away any remaining cleaner from the area. Be sure to wring out any excess water before applying the rag to the leather to avoid damaging the leather.
  4. Use your dry microfiber rag to dry the area by dabbing gently until most of the water is absorbed, then allow the jacket to air dry.
On the left, a brown Moto Jacket hanging next to a helmet, and on the right, model wearing The Moto Jacket in Black

A Few Extra Pointers

For Ink Stains

For ink stains you can use nail polish remover and a cotton swab to gently blot the area until the ink has all been lifted from the leather. Be sure not to rub the nail polish remover around or you could spread the ink. Then wipe with a damp cloth and dry with a microfiber towel.

For Grease Stains

For grease stains you can sprinkle some baking soda onto the stain and rub it gently with a damp cloth. Let it sit overnight and the bikinis soda will absorb all of the grease. Then wipe clean with a damp towel and dry with a clean, microfiber rag.

For Mildew or Mold

For mildew or mold mix one part rubbing alcohol with one part water and apply with a clean microfiber cloth. Then wipe clean with a damp towel and dry with another microfiber cloth.

Model walking in front of a barn in The Moto Jacket in Espresso Steerhide

Conditioning Your Leather Jacket

To keep leather jackets from drying out and even cracking, we recommend conditioning your leather jacket at least once every six months. This will keep the leather supple, the color vibrant, and your jacket looking its best for decades to come.

Start by getting yourself a quality leather conditioner (we’re big fans of Leather Honey) and a clean microfiber cloth. Then follow these simple steps:

  1. Using either a clean hand or a soft, clean rag, apply the conditioner evenly over the entire outside of the jacket.
  2. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes.
  3. Using a clean microfiber cloth, buff in the conditioner, working in tight circles.
  4. Wipe away any excess conditioner with a separate clean towel and let the jacket rest overnight.
On the left, model leaning against the wall in The Ojai Jacket in Suede, and on the right, close up of model wearing The Ojai Jacket in Suede with a sweater

Cleaning a Suede Jacket

While suede jackets may not be as easy to clean as a standard leather jacket, they’re by no means precious possessions that require constant babying. In fact, we’d say the true beauty of a quality suede jacket comes from putting a few years of hard wear into it, letting the material turn into a visual history of all your adventures together. But if you do end up with a stubborn stain, don’t stress. Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to taking care of it:

  1. Get yourself a suede brush, suede eraser, and some suede cleaner.
  2. Gently brush the entire jacket to remove any loose dirt, being sure to work the grain in the same direction for a uniform finish.
  3. For light scuffs and stains, try using just your suede eraser first. Oftentimes a few scrubs with the eraser is all that you need. Just work the eraser back and forth as you would with a pencil eraser. For deeper, more set stains, follow the remaining steps.
  4. Always test your suede cleaner on an inconspicuous spot of your jacket first, just in case it alters the look or finish of the leather.
  5. If your suede cleaner is undiluted, mix one part cleaner to two parts warm water in a clean bowl. Diluted cleaners usually come in a spray bottle and can be applied directly to the leather.
  6. Dip your suede brush in the cleaner and work the affected area in gentle back and forth strokes until the cleaner lathers up. These cleaners may slightly darken the suede, but since they also condition the leather, it doesn’t hurt to apply it to the entire jacket if you want to maintain a uniform finish.
  7. Let your suede jacket air dry overnight.

For Intense Cleaning

After a few years of solid wear, you may find that these basic methods don't quite do the trick. In these cases, we recommend sending your suede or leather jacket to a leather specialist to care for it. We prefer the fine folks over at Arrows, but feel free to look up your local leather specialists as well.

Start with Quality

And there you have it: a complete care guide for your lifelong road buddy. As with any long term investment, it pays to pick quality from the start. Here at TS, we source the highest quality leathers, assemble with old-world craftsmanship, and tailor our jackets to absolute perfection. Explore our roster of leather and suede jackets and find your new wardrobe hero piece, then revisit this handy guide to ensure it stays looking its best until you're ready to pass it down to the grandkids.

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