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Jacket and Coat Care: How I Keep My Outerwear Looking Fresh


Jacket and coat care is important. Fortunately, ‘important’ doesn’t mean ‘hard’ or ‘difficult’.

Actually, jackets and coats usually don’t require much attention, but it’s important that you know what to do when the time comes. Which is why I posted this article and the video below:

Whether your leather jacket, Barbour jacket, or wool coat has gotten dingy, I’ll tell you my take on safe and easy outerwear care.

General Jacket and Coat Care

My three-point rule for jacket and coat care is to spot-clean, ventilate, and mend.

  1. You should always try to spot-clean stains before having your outerwear washed or dry-cleaned.
  2. To get rid of smells, it’s often enough to give the item a couple of days’ rest. Hang it to air out in a warm area, where there’s a light draft.
  3. Occasionally, you’ll have to mend your leather and waxed jackets.

Read on for some simple and affordable DIY jobs you can do at home in under an hour.

Leather Jacket and Coat Care

Most leather jackets can’t be washed or dry-cleaned. You’re left with one option: spot-cleaning. Do this with a damp, soap-free sponge or rag. Don’t rub vigorously, as this can cause discolouration.

Jacket and Coat Care - Spot Cleaning Leather

Speaking of discolouration, vulnerable parts of your leather jacket, such as the cuffs and elbows, will lose pigment as they become worn. It’s important to freshen up faded spots every so often with leather dye. Apply it according to the instructions on the package.

Jacket and Coat Care Re-Dying Leather

Wax Jacket Care

Waxed jackets are known to be virtually indestructible. But the wax coating that makes them so great also prevents them from being machine-washed.

To clean your wax jacket, wipe stains off while they’re wet.

Jacket and Coat Care Wiping Stain of Wax Jacket

If the stain has dried, brush it off before cleaning the spot with a damp, soap-free sponge.

Jacket and Coat Care Brushing Stain of Wax Jacket

On areas like the shoulders, cuffs, and pockets, the wax coating will be worn away by the elements and normal use. The wax will have to be renewed periodically, depending on how often you’ve worn the jacket.

To freshen up the coating, you can follow the steps below or in this video by Lark.

How to Wax Your Jacket to a Factory Finish

  1. Be sure your jacket is clean and dry.
  2. Apply warm, molten wax with a cotton rag, paying extra attention to seams, creases, and the areas of heavy use that I’ve already mentioned.
  3. As you work the wax in with one rag, use another rag to wipe off the excess.
  4. Use a hairdryer to blend the wax in uniformly and achieve what Barbour calls a ‘factory finish’.

Woollen Coat Care

For your woollen duffel coat or  Chesterfield coat, care is simple. All you need to do is:

  • spot-clean
  • brush
  • ventilate.

Avoid sending wool coats to the dry cleaners, as dry-cleaning is neither a dry nor a gentle cleaning process.

Dry-cleaning uses chemical solvents instead of water. But the clothes are cleaned in an industrial front-loading machine, which is like a washing machine on steroids.

To spot-clean wool, use pure water and a rag or sponge to gently soak and rub the stain.

Jacket and Coat Care Wool Coat Wiping

If the stain is already dry, try brushing it off with a clothes brush before using water, as this is pretty much all it takes.

Jacket and Coat Care Brushing Down Wool Coat

Final Tips

Now you know all my tricks for keeping outerwear pristine. Here are a couple of bonus tips that will make your outerwear last longer.

If you’re wearing a leather jacket or Chesterfield coat, always carry an umbrella and use it when it’s raining. Otherwise, the water will ruin leather and deform the woollen fabric of your Chesterfield.

Also, most leather jackets and dress coats don’t cope well with shoulder straps. These garments have shoulder areas – often padded – that are easily worn or deformed by the friction of backpacks, sports bags, and messenger bags.

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