Cleaning the interior
When cleaning your motorcycle leather jacket, you should first start with the interior since it needs just as much care as the exterior, considering that as you ride, it gets loaded up with salt from your sweat and oils from the skin.
The first step is to look if the interior on your jacket is removable or not. Most leather jackets will have a removable interior that you can pull out and load into the washing machine. If that’s the case for your jacket, then you can skip directly to the section that concerns cleaning the exterior.
However, if your jacket doesn’t have a removable interior, there’s no need to worry. The first step is to let the jacket air out since most leather motorcycle apparel comes with an anti-microbial and sweat-wicking liner. You can also apply odor-eliminating products to remove faint smells.
With time, too much sweat can lead to bad odors and even mold. If this is the case and airing the jacket isn’t enough, the next step is to apply a de-salter. Before you do it, you’ll need to turn the jacket inside out and remove all of the internal armor. Apply the de-salter throughout and leave the jacket aside until the solution has dried completely.
For a more thorough clean-up, you will need to use a mix of warm water with a small amount of mild detergent, one that’s specifically designed for delicate fabrics, if possible. Then turn the jacket inside out and use a soft cloth, dip it in the detergent water, and then wring the cloth out so that it is only slightly damp.
Now wipe the jacket with the damp cloth, focusing specifically on the areas that need it the most, such as the armpits, collar, cuffs, or anywhere where dirt and sweat are most likely to accumulate. Once you’re done, wipe the jacket with a clean damp cloth to remove the soap from the fabric and then leave it to dry in a cool, dry place.
Cleaning the exterior
Cleaning leather is not that difficult, but what makes it tricky is that it requires special care since doing it the wrong way can easily damage it. When cleaning a leather jacket, the most important thing is to pay close attention to the contents of the cleaning product that you are using but also to the recommendations of the manufacturer.
It is generally advised to steer away from cleaning solutions that use waxes and silicones since these tend to dry out the leather. Similarly, you shouldn’t use animal-based products, such as mink oil paste, as it can discolor the leather. Take the time to check the instruction labels to see what type of leather is used for your jacket.
Once you have selected a leather cleaner that doesn’t contain any ingredient that your gear’s manufacturer doesn’t recommend, you can start to get to work. To apply the cleaning solution to the leather, you should use a soft cotton rug as cotton is gentle enough not to damage the leather.
You should apply the cleaning solution directly onto the rag, not on the jacket, as this will help reduce the risk of too much solution being absorbed into the leather. Now you can start the cleaning process, starting from the front of the jacket and working your way to the torso, arms, and back. Be gentle, there’s no need to apply too much power.
While cleaning the exterior of the leather jacket, you should also keep your eye on the rag. If too much dirt builds up, then you’ll need to rinse it off, wring out, and continue. This is why it is advisable to use a rag that’s white or that’s not dyed in dark colors so that it is easier for you to notice dirt build-up.
Wiping down the outside of the jacket is not a lengthy chore, and it should only take out a few minutes. It is best to do it during the night so that you can leave it to hang and dry overnight, and thus have it ready to use the next day. If you wear the jacket a lot, then you can create a weekly cleaning schedule, but for casual use, cleaning it monthly is more than enough.
Conditioning the jacket
Riding through hot weather can quickly dry out the leather, which is why the process of conditioning is essential as it reinvigorates the leather with the essential oils that get depleted with use and exposure to the elements. This extends the life and quality of the leather and makes it look better.
Before you can apply the conditioner, you should let the jacket dry for a full 24 hours since, for the best results, the leather will need to be clean and completely dry. There are plenty of leather conditioners on the market, and you should choose one that is suited for the type of leather that your jacket is made of.
Make sure to follow the instructions that come supplied with the conditioner since some products may have specific steps that you’ll need to follow. However, the process is very simple since with most conditioners, you’ll simply need to apply a liberal amount of the product on a soft, damp sponge and follow the same routine as when cleaning the jacket.
One useful tip when applying the conditioner for the first time is to pick an inconspicuous area and apply it there to see if the solution has any reaction with the leather.
Just as when cleaning the jacket, once you have applied the conditioner, you should leave it to dry thoroughly. This will ensure that the leather has enough time to absorb all the essential oils.
You don’t need to condition the leather each time you clean it since too much conditioner can lead to blemishes, or you can even risk clogging the pores of the leather, which can cause it to wear down. Most manufacturers recommend to condition leather motorcycle gear no more than twice per year.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that you should never condition the leather without cleaning it thoroughly first since this will do more damage than good.
Removing tough stains
Sometimes, you have to deal with unexpected stains, such as a bird dropping from above, sauce from your food, or grease. The longer that a stain stays on the leather, the harder it will be to remove. Below, we will tell you how to remove a few of the most common stains.
For liquid stains, you can use a mixture of water and soap and apply it on a soft, clean sponge. Wipe it gently in a circular motion with the sponge and then dab with a dry, clean cloth. If the stain is fresh enough, removing it shouldn’t pose a problem.
Ink is one of the toughest stains to remove from leather, but it can be removed if it’s treated quickly. To remove ink, you’ll need to use saddle soap or professional leather stain removal products. If these products are not readily available, you can use rubbing alcohol, but this works only with protected leather.
Oil and grease stains are fairly common on leather jackets, and you can clean them by sprinkling talcum powder directly on to the stain. Gently rub the powder into the leather so that the grease gets absorbed properly. You should give the powder a couple of hours to act before you brush it off with a clean cloth or a soft-bristle toothbrush.
After you have removed the talcum powder, you should use soapy water to clean the leftover residue. You can also purchase a stain guard solution to prevent stains from sticking to the leather. This product will help repel water and oil, and it will make cleaning and stain removal a lot easier in the future.
If the stains are serious enough, and you don’t feel confident in removing them on your own at home, you will need to bring the jacket to a professional leather cleaner.