Tips for Cleaning Leather Motorcycle Riding Gear

Leather has been the go-to material for motorcycle clothing for as long as anyone can remember. 

Motorcycle leather riding gear

Although many modern motorcycle jackets and suits feature the likes of Kevlar and carbon fiber, as of this writing leather still accounts for the majority of the material used in the manufacture of motorcycle riding gear.

Leather’s strength and suppleness make it the ideal material for motorcycle gear, but it is prone to damage from exposure to the elements. Sun, rain, dust and dirt cause leather gear to dry out, leading it to eventually crack and become useless. 

Leather motorcycle riding gear cleaning

Chemicals stain leather clothing, and cause the stitching to decay until the leathers fall apart. And let’s not forget the smell of leathers that haven’t been cleaned in a while!

If you want your leather riding gear to look and smell good and to last long, you’ll need to clean and condition it on a fairly regular basis. How often depends on how frequently you wear it and expose it to the elements, but on average expect to have to clean and condition your leather gear at least 3-4 times a year.

Step 1. Cleaning Leather Riding Gear

Hang the leather jacket or riding suit on a sturdy coat hanger. If the garment is dirty, gently wash it using a small amount of hand soap in warm water and a lint-free microfiber cloth. 

Motorcycle riding gear cleaning tips leather jackets

Never use dishwashing detergent, as it is too harsh and can damage leather. Allow the garment to air dry. Once the dirt has been gently washed off, clean it with a quality leather cleaner and a lint-free microfiber cloth. Test the cleaner on a small area of the leather first. Don’t use too much cleaner, and wipe away any excess as you go.

Clean zippers with warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Don’t lubricate the zippers because lubricants attract and trap dirt that will wear them out.

Step 2. Drying and Airing Leather Riding Gear

Let the leather jacket or leather riding suit air dry in a well-ventilated space. 

Motorcycle rider leather jacket

Don’t put leathers near a radiator or use a hair dryer to hurry the process, as the heat may damage them. The garment needs to be completely dry before it’s conditioned, so let it air dry overnight if necessary.

Open all zippers and vents to air out the garment and remove any odors. If the leather garment has a removable liner, remove it and wash it. Even if the garment doesn’t have a removable liner, spray the inside of it with an odor eliminator just in case.

Step 3. Conditioning Leather Riding Gear

Once the leather jacket or leather riding suit is completely dry, it’s time to apply leather conditioner to it. 

Leather riding gear cleaner and conditioner

Leather conditioner nourishes the leather, and prevents it from cracking and decaying. Directions for using the conditioner vary from brand to brand, but in general involve wiping the garment with the conditioner and then leaving it for about 30 minutes so the conditioner can penetrate and sink into the leather. Don’t use too much conditioner, or your leathers will get sticky and unpleasant. 

Motorcycle leather riding gloves

Follow these tips and your leather motorcycle riding gear should end up feeling soft and supple, with the same luster they had the day you first got them.


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