If the inside of your favorite leather jacket has developed a musty aroma, you don't want to toss the jacket in the washing machine. While some faux leather jackets can be machine washed, traditional leather needs to be handled with care, and that means keeping it away from too much water and heat, both of which can damage the leather. But that doesn't mean putting up with a smelly jacket. Here are two easy methods to banish the stink from your favorite leather jacket, followed by tips to keep the jacket clean and future unwanted smells at bay.
The Vinegar or Vodka Method
Using vinegar or vodka is a great way to deodorize your jacket and its lining. But first check the tags in your jacket for instructions as there may be separate manufacturer-recommended steps for the cleaning the lining.
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- Fill clean spray bottle with distilled white vinegar or an inexpensive brand of vodka.
- Place the jacket on a wooden hanger or a clean work surface.
- Mist the areas of the jacket that smell bad, both inside and out, but avoid saturating either the leather or the lining.
- Let the jacket dry completely near an open window and well away from any radiators or other heat sources. You can also hang it outside in a breezy spot protected from direct sunlight.
The Baking Soda Method
The baking soda method is also effective for deodorizing your jacket lining and, if you already have baking soda on hand, requires only a spray bottle filled with distilled water and a clean cloth.
- Turn the jacket inside out to expose the lining and lay the jacket on a clean work surface.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the lining, concentrating on areas like the armpits, where the smell may be more intense.
- Add warm distilled water to a spray bottle and barely mist the baking soda. Use a very light hand and avoid saturating the material.
- Leave the jacket alone for 15 to 20 minutes and let the baking soda work its magic.
- Carefully remove the baking soda using a clean, damp cloth.
- Hang the jacket on a wooden hanger and let it dry in a cool, well-ventilated area.
Keeping Your Leather Jacket Fresh
Regularly spot cleaning problem areas on the lining of your jacket is a great way to keep it smelling fresh. This is easy to do: Simply turn your jacket inside out and spot clean the armpits and other areas that pick up odors using either the baking soda method or the vinegar or vodka method.
To keep the leather smelling fresh, you can also try using saddle soap, which is made for cleaning leather by hand. Saddle soaps often contain fragrance and work to remove dirt and grime that can add up to bad smells.
To use saddle soap, first remove surface dirt by lightly wiping the skins with a microfiber cloth slightly moistened with distilled water. Then using another clean, slightly damp cloth, swipe it over the saddle soap a few times to produce lather and gently work a very thin layer into the surface of the leather using small, circular motions. When you're done, simply wipe excess saddle soap away with a damp cloth and let the jacket air-dry.
To avoid premature cracking, clean your leather jacket with saddle soap no more than once annually and follow up with a leather conditioner, such as Leather Honey, to keep the leather supple by replacing lost oils.
Before using any type of leather cleaner or conditioner on your jacket, test the product on a small, inconspicuous area to check for staining.