Keeping your leather coat looking like new!

Caring for Leather Coats

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Caring for Leather Coats

It's time to bring my leather coat out of storage. I love it because it's stylish and warm, but after hanging in the closet all summer, it doesn't look its best. What's the best way to take care of a leather coat? I'd like hints for both when I first get ready for winter and during the rough weather that my coat will see.

Restore Sheen with Linseed Oil

You can care for your leather coat in some of the same ways you care for fine leather shoes. First, never store it in a plastic bag, as leather needs air around it. You can clean a leather coat by using a gentle soap made for them or even saddle soap (purses benefit from this treatment as well) on a soft rag. Keep them supple. If you have a soft leather, from sheep for example, be sure to avoid anything sharp that might pierce it.

Avoid transferring oily body soil to the neck of the coat by wearing a thin scarf under the neck of the coat. If the lining needs cleaning, first try gently vacuuming it with the dusting attachment from your vacuum cleaner. If that is not sufficient, you might make mild soap suds and use a sponge or soft rag dipped in the suds. Do not soak the lining. A spray of Febreze might be enough to remove odors, but if not, you can either use baking soda or vinegar (but not both) with the suds.

If your leather coat is used in very dirty conditions where it might get mud on it, gently brush the dried mud off and then remove any remaining dirt with suds as above.

Consider restoring the sheen on an older leather coat with a linseed oil treatment. Gently rub the oil into the leather and remove the excess before wearing it.

How Leather Retailers Care for Leather

I worked next to a leather retailer for a year. They were constantly cleaning the leather in their shop. They used Armor All® on the leather. This product oiled the leather and protected it from moisture, which breaks down leather and encourages mold to grow on it. Leather cleaner that comes in the form of wipes can be purchased at a grocery store in the cleaning aisle or at a home improvement store. These cleaners usually have a bit of oil in them to protect the leather as well.

Leather Coat Storage

Before storing, be sure to hang it on a sturdy hanger to prevent damage to shoulders and seams. Close all the buttons/zippers and make sure it's hanging correctly on the hanger. Never store leather in a plastic protective bag. Use cloth or an old over-size shirt.

Spot-clean as needed with mild hand soap and a moist wash cloth. Allow to dry before next step. This may need to be done around neckline. A good practice to prevent neck soil is wearing a light scarf around your neck to prevent skin contact with leather coat.

If your leather coat has mold due to improper storage, wipe it off with a moist wash cloth and a solution of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water.

Finally, clean and moisturize the leather by using leather conditioner. This can be purchased in shoe stores or departments.

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Hide Scuff Marks When Caring for Leather Coats

Before putting coats away, I make sure they have no dirt or salt on them. If this wasn't done, wipe down the coat with a damp cloth to which a tablespoon of vinegar has been added. Let dry.

Then, for any scuffs, use a matching shoe polish to blend in. This works for seams, shoulders, etc. Don't use on lapels or cuffs where the coat touches your skin. For bad scuffs and scratches, use a matching marker first. I like to use water-based, which I can then blend with a damp cloth.

Finally, finish with a waterproofing spray designed for leather and allow to dry before wearing.

Take the Next Step:

  • Don't stop with your coat! Here's how to care for your leather boots.
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