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How to Condition a Leather Jacket for Beginners

Leather jackets are one of the few items in your wardrobe which you should splurge your money on. They are timeless and classic, but more importantly, they are durable. A quality leather jacket can last a lifetime, provided that you take care of it.

And it’s that last part of the above sentence that we would be dealing with today. The most important part of taking care of a leather jacket is conditioning it, a process that can be confusing to someone who’s new to the world of leather.

In this article, I will be going over the step-by-step process that one needs to follow to condition a leather jacket.

Let’s start!

How to Condition a Leather Jacket?

leather jacket

Conditioning a leather jacket helps it last longer and look better. The cost of doing this is also pretty low because you only need to buy one product – a leather conditioner. Here’s the best one, if you are confused.

Here’s how you can use a proper leather conditioner to condition your motorcycle jacket.

1. Clean your jacket with a damp cloth

Before we begin conditioning, it is important to clean your jacket thoroughly. Doing so would help the conditioner to reach places that are currently blocked by dirt and grime.

The best (and most inexpensive) way to clean a leather jacket is to just wipe it with a damp cloth. Although you can use any old rag for this job, a clean microfiber cloth works best.

Squeeze the rag to get rid of the excess water, and start wiping the jacket. Pay special attention to areas that are often ignored such as the zipper, shoulder tabs, lining, etc.

After the cleaning process, allow the jacket to dry naturally. Don’t place it in the sun though, as that can lead to fading.

2. Do a spot test

The most neglected (yet probably the most important) step in conditioning a leather jacket is doing a spot test.

See, leather conditioners are made out of chemicals. And although the chances of this happening are extremely rare, they can still lead to discoloration and/or flaking, especially if you are dealing with a low-quality product.

If you go with the ones I recommend, then you won’t run into this problem; but still, it is better to be safe than sorry.

To conduct a spot test, take a small amount of the conditioner and apply it to an inconspicuous area on the jacket to see if some adverse reaction happens. My recommended place to do a spot test is on the underside of the lapel.

3. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the conditioner to the jacket

It’s time to begin the conditioning process.

Take a microfiber cloth and put a few drops of the conditioner on it. Using the rag, rub the conditioner all over your leather jacket. Important areas to pay attention to are the lapels, and the armhole region.

If you still feel that the leather is dry and needs some more moisture, you can apply another coat of conditioning to the jacket. But make sure that you don’t go over 2-3 coats.

The reason for this is that over-conditioning can clog the pores of your leather jacket. Leather is a fabric that needs to breathe. Layers of chemical conditioner are going to prevent it from doing so.

NOTE: Before you apply the conditioner, read the instructions that came with it. Although most conditioners will suggest you apply their product with a microfiber cloth, there might be slight differences between various brands.

4. Allow the jacket to dry naturally

Once you lather your motorcycle jacket with conditioner, it’s time to allow leather to breathe and dry itself.

Depending on the number of coats you applied and the dryness of your jacket, it can take anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours for your jacket to completely absorb the leather conditioner.

During this time, it would be best if you don’t touch the jacket at all. Don’t keep it in the sun and don’t try any weird DIY hacks to fasten the drying process. They are probably going to slow down the process even further.

5. Store it properly after conditioning

After the conditioner is fully absorbed by the leather, it is time to properly store the jacket.

How you store the jacket has a big impact on how dry your jacket gets and how often you’ll need to condition it. It’s always a good practice to store leather jackets properly because not doing so can lead to creases and cracks on the surface of the fabric.

So, how should you store a leather jacket? The best way to store a leather jacket is to hang it on a padded clothes hanger. This will prevent creases from developing on the shoulder joints of the jacket.

Wire hangers do more harm than good because the weight of a real leather jacket is simply too much for them. So ditch them and go for thick wooden hangers.

Also, store your leather jackets in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Direct exposure to the sun often leads to fading in leather jackets.

How Often should you Condition a Leather Jacket?

The number of times that you should condition a leather jacket depends on how often you use it. At the minimum, you should condition your leather jacket once a year.

There are a lot of factors that can determine the right duration between the conditioning process – the dryness of the leather, the humidity of the climate, the usage (rough or delicate), and much more.

If you live in an area where it is cold most of the time (eg. Alaska), and thus you get a lot of use out of your leather jacket, then I recommend conditioning it once every three months. This also holds true if you are a biker and your jacket is subjected to scratches and scuffs regularly.

But if this is not the case, then you can get away with conditioning your jacket once a year. This will be good enough in most situations.

Do Leather Jackets Need Conditioning?

To answer this question, we should know the purpose behind conditioning a leather jacket, or conditioning leather in general.

Leather is not like other fabrics such as cotton or nylon. It is made from animal hide, the actual skin of an animal. And like our skins need to be moisturized in order to remain healthy and glowing, leather also needs regular conditioning to look its best.

Not conditioning leather can lead to dryness, brittleness, loss of color, and other such unwarranted events.

Therefore, it is very vital to condition leather jackets and motorcycle jackets. Doing so can increase their life, provide moisture, improve color, remove stains, and make the leather softer and comfortable.

Final Remarks

Conditioning leather jackets is essential to their longevity and health. It can even improve the look of a jacket by making the leather less dry and more supple. Here’s the step-by-step process to condition a leather jacket.

  1. Clean your jacket with a damp cloth.
  2. Do a spot test.
  3. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the conditioner to the jacket.
  4. Allow the jacket to dry naturally.
  5. Store it properly after conditioning.