How to Wash a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store

Leather jackets from thrift stores are often a great choice for those looking for an affordable option. They can be tailored and treated to look just like new, with the added bonus of being much more budget-friendly than buying a brand-new leather jacket.

How to Wash a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store

While there is almost no risk of damaging the leather if it’s not washed correctly, it’s important to know how to properly care for the leather so that it lasts a long time and remains in great condition.

The main advantage of washing a leather jacket from a thrift store is that it can save you both time and money. Leather jackets are typically expensive to purchase new, so buying one from a thrift store can be a cost-effective way to get the same quality without having to spend as much.

Another benefit is that you can often find leather jackets in good condition, meaning you won’t have to worry about finding one that is already worn out. In this blog post, You will learn in detail how to wash a leather jacket from a thrift store.

How Should You Prepare the Jacket Before Washing It?

Before washing a leather jacket from a thrift store, it is important to take the time to properly prepare the garment by doing the following steps:

  • Check for any stains and treat them before washing. This can be done by using warm water and mild soap or spot-treating with a product made specifically for treating leather.
  • Remove any metal pieces like zippers, buttons, and buckles, as these may rust or damage the fabric during washing.
  • If necessary, apply a conditioner or protective cream to protect the jacket from becoming brittle or cracking during the wash process.
  • Finally, inspect your jacket for any other damage, such as tears or weak stitching, and make any necessary repairs before washing.
Check for Any Stains

By following these steps, you can ensure your jacket will be properly taken care of prior to being washed.

Step-by-Step Processes for How to Wash a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store

Step 1: Inspect the Leather Jacket

Before cleaning the leather, inspect it for any damage or stains. If you find that the leather is heavily stained or has any tears, it’s best to take it to a professional cleaner who will be able to clean and repair the jacket properly.

Step 2: Test Cleaner on Small Spot

Find a suitable cleaning product for your leather jacket. Test the cleaner on a small or inconspicuous spot to ensure the product won’t discolor or damage the leather. Gently wipe down the entire surface of the leather jacket with a soft cloth dampened in lukewarm water to remove any surface dirt or dust.

Step 3: Apply Cleaner and Scrub Gently

Once you’ve tested the cleaner, apply it to the leather jacket and gently scrub with a soft cloth. Wipe away any excess cleaner with a dry cloth. Repeat this process several times until all dirt, stains, and odors have been removed. Supple. 

Step 4: Condition the Leather

After cleaning, condition the leather to ensure it is supple and soft. Use a leather conditioner or cream that is specifically designed for treating leather. Apply the conditioner with a clean cloth, making sure to cover every part of the jacket. Let the conditioner sit on the leather for several minutes and then buff with a dry cloth to finish.

Use a Leather Conditioner

Step 5: Let the Leather Jacket Air Dry

Allow the leather jacket to air dry completely, away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Once it is thoroughly dry, store the jacket in a cool, dry place until you’re ready to wear it again.  With regular cleaning and conditioning, your leather jacket from the thrift store will last many years.

By following these five steps, you can easily and safely clean a leather jacket from a thrift store. It’s important to remember that not all leather is the same, so it’s best to test any cleaning product on a small spot before using it over the entire jacket surface.

Tips for How to Wash a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store 

  1. Always check the label on your leather jacket before washing to determine if it can be safely washed.
  2. Inspect the lining of your leather jacket for any signs of deterioration or damage before washing, as this could affect its lifespan after being washed.
  3. Use a mild detergent specifically designed for use on leather and suede, avoiding harsh detergents or anything containing bleach.
  4. Wash the leather jacket by hand in a sink filled with lukewarm water and an appropriate cleaner. Do not put it into a washing machine, as this can damage the leather fabric.
  5. Rinse the leather jacket thoroughly to remove any residual soap from its surface after washing it.
  6. Allow the leather jacket to air dry naturally, away from any direct heat sources or sunlight.
  7. Always apply a leather conditioner after washing your leather jacket in order to help preserve its softness and suppleness. This will also prevent cracking over time.
Apply Conditioner After 
Washing Leather Jacket

Following these tips will help ensure that your thrift store leather jacket remains in top condition and lasts for many years to come.

How Often Should You Clean a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store?

It is important to clean a leather jacket from a thrift store regularly in order to keep it looking great and lasting for years. How often you should clean the jacket depends on how much wear and tear the jacket has seen and the type of leather it is made from.

Generally speaking, if you wear your leather jacket frequently, it should be washed every six weeks. If the leather is softer, like lambskin, it should be cleaned more often as it can become stained more easily.

When cleaning your thrift store leather jacket, you may want to test an inconspicuous area first with a small amount of leather cleaner before applying it to the entire jacket. It is important to use a gentle leather cleaner that will not strip the natural oils from the material, and it is best to avoid using harsh chemicals or regular laundry detergent.

How Do You Store a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store After Cleaning? 

Once you’ve finished washing a leather jacket from a thrift store, it’s important to ensure that it is stored properly. This will help keep it in good condition for as long as possible. First, you should use an old towel or cloth to dry the jacket thoroughly. Ensure all moisture is absorbed before placing the jacket on a hanger. Hang the leather in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area.

Leather jackets should not be stored in plastic as this can cause damage over time. Keeping your leather away from direct sunlight is also important, which can fade colors and weaken the material. If you’re storing your thrift-store leather jacket for a long time, consider placing it in a breathable garment bag and keeping it in a cool closet.

 Finished Washing Jacket
From a Thrift Store

This will protect the material from dust, dirt, and humidity. Finally, make sure to use a good quality leather conditioner every few months on your jacket. This will help keep the material supple and prevent it from cracking.

How Can You Prevent Shrinking or Stretching When Washing a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store? 

When washing a leather jacket from a thrift store, you must take extra care to prevent it from shrinking or stretching. This is because leather is a natural material that is prone to shrinking and stretching when exposed to water and heat. To keep your leather jacket in good condition, follow these steps:

  • Clean the jacket using a soft cloth dampened with warm water and mild soap.
  • Remove any excess dirt or debris on the leather by lightly rubbing it with the wet cloth. Do not scrub or rub too hard, as this can cause damage to the leather.
  • Once all of the dirt is gone, let your jacket air-dry in a cool, dry place. Do not use direct heat or sunlight to speed up the drying process, as this can cause shrinking and stretching of the leather.
  • If your jacket needs additional cleaning, spot clean with a leather cleaner specifically designed for leather pieces. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully.
  • Once the leather is dry, apply a protective leather conditioner to protect it from future damage. This will help keep your jacket looking its best for years to come.

By following these tips, you should be able to keep your thrift store leather jacket free of shrinking and stretching while still keeping it looking new.

How Should You Care for and Maintain a Leather Jacket From a Thrift Store? 

Caring for and maintaining a leather jacket from a thrift store is essential to keeping it looking its best. Proper care and maintenance will help preserve the leather and ensure the jacket stays in good condition. To begin, always read the instructions on the label before cleaning your jacket. This will provide you with specific instructions on how to care for the leather.

When cleaning your leather jacket, start by brushing off any dirt or dust with a clean, soft brush. Then gently wipe down the entire jacket surface with a damp cloth or sponge. Do not force water through the material, as this can cause discoloration and damage to the finish of the leather.

Jacket Surface With a Damp Cloth

If there are any stubborn stains, you can use a leather cleaner or saddle soap to work them out gently. Avoid using soaps that contain harsh chemicals, as they can cause damage to the leather. When conditioning the leather, always start with a small area to test it first before applying on the entire jacket. You can use a leather conditioner or balm to keep the material soft and supple.


In conclusion,  washing a leather jacket from a thrift store is not as difficult as it may seem. With the right measures and steps, you can easily clean and care for your leather jacket without damaging it. Start by checking the tags on the jacket to ensure that it is safe to wash in water, then carefully prepare the cleaning solution and begin washing.

You should also take the time to condition and polish your leather jacket afterward to ensure it looks its best. I hope reading this post has helped you learn how to wash a leather jacket from a thrift store. Make sure the safety precautions are carried out in the order listed.

Photo of author

Matt Clark

Hi, this is Matt, and I am a leathercraft hobbyist. I have been working with leather for quite a bit of time. When I was a teenager, my father taught me the basics of leathercraft. Along the way I have learned a lot of things about leather work leather items, restoring leather, and creating leather accessories. I started this blog to share my knowledge of leatherworking with others and help people learn about this amazing craft. I also wanted to create a community of like-minded people who could share ideas and support each other in their leatherworking journey.

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