Given that we’re in the business of selling leather motorcycle clothing, be it leather suits, leather jackets or leather pants, you might be forgiven for thinking that we’d be pleased for you to keep wearing them out and coming back for more. Maybe we should be, but actually, we’re not!
This article is all about how to keep your favourite leather motorcycle clothing in good condition, cleaning and conditioning them to ensure that they always look and perform in a tip-top manner.
Your motorbike leathers have a hard life. Even if you never have to use their protective goodness in anger, they’re still going to be subjected to strong winds, bugs, rain, micrometeorites and on the rarest of occasions, even the scorching sun. Given that leather is a natural material just like your skin, all this punishment will eventually take its toll – and if you don’t give your leathers some care, they’ll eventually end up cracked, ugly, and useless. Just like your skin, you need to properly clean and moisturise your leathers and the best things to do this with are specialised leather cleaners and conditioners.
How should I clean my leather clothing?
So, your leathers are dirty and smelly after months of riding and you’ve come here to learn the dark art of cleaning them. No problem. First, let’s sort out that funky aroma. Some will recommend treating your leathers with all manner of chemicals, but to be honest, there’s usually no telling how good this is for the leather and the chemicals can often leave an aroma that smells as bad as the funk did in the first place! Instead, we recommend turning your leather suit, jacket or pants leathers inside out and leaving them to hang somewhere well-ventilated like the garage (with the door open, of course), or somewhere in the great outdoors being the ideal scenario.
How often you should clean your leathers really depends on how much riding you do, and of what type. The short answer is that you should do it before they start to dry out and crack which will vary from brand to brand. If you get them soaking wet in the rain, for instance, you probably want to give them a bit of love sooner rather than later because the rainwater will dry them out and wash away valuable natural oils that help to give your leathers the colour, shine and freedom to move.
Whatever you do, do not be tempted to put your leather clothing leathers through the washer. No matter what some random vlogger or commenter on an Internet forum might say, it’s not ok. Motorcycle leathers are treated with natural oils to keep them supple, and putting them in the washing machine will strip this away very effectively. Just don’t do it. DON’T YOU DARE!
Any products you apply to leather clothing, always try a very small area first to make sure there are no reactions with the materials, then apply the leather cleaner gently in small circular movements – taking care to rinse your cloth before it gets too dirty – a bit like you would with your bike. This will help to avoid the possibility of you simply grinding more dirt into your expensive leathers. This is also one of those situations where it pays to read the specific instructions on the bottle and to actually follow them! Come on, there’s no shame in it!
How to dry your leather clothing?
Drying your leathers might seem like an unimportant step, but it most certainly isn’t! You may have just spent half an hour cleaning your Alpinestars leather suit, but that doesn’t mean you can just skip to the conditioning step! If you do that, you run a major risk of locking water into the suit – which is bad, bad news.
For this reason, you need to ensure that your leathers are 100% dry before you go to the next step. We seem to be telling you an awful lot of things that you should never do, but we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t care!
Another no-no is that you should never ever use artificial heat to dry your leathers. This is almost guaranteed to dry them out too quickly and they’ll end up cracking. Just be patient. Hang them somewhere well ventilated (preferably outside) and wait until they are dry. Whilst your leathers are drying, pop your cloth from earlier in the wash because you’re probably going to be using it again soon!
Conditioning your leather clothing
Once your leathers are properly dry, there’s one step left to getting them ready to go – conditioning of course. So, grab a bottle of leather conditioner and your cloth from earlier (which you didn’t forget to put in the wash whilst your leathers were drying). Some conditioners call for a sponge instead of a cloth so feel free to do that instead if that’s the case – you’ve come this far following the instructions, don’t change now!
Again, you want to be gentle and use small circles to work the conditioner slowly into the surface of the leather. You won’t need to use a massive amount of conditioner at all and you’ll know when the leather is ready by how supple it feels. Just keep working it in patiently until your gear looks like it did on the pegs when you bought it.
What can I do to keep my leather clothing looking their best?
As we mentioned earlier, you should give your motorcycle leather clothing some love before they really start to need it – because once they’re all cracked and dried out, it’s pretty much game over as far as rejuvenating them goes.
In the meantime, you can keep them looking and smelling fresh by using a secret and well-guarded trick that we like to call unscented baby wipes. Yes, you need to run down to your nearest supermarket and locate the baby goods aisle. You want the most sensitive ones you can find but rest assured that if they’re good enough for babies, they’ll do for your leathers!
These wipes can then be used to remove flies, dirt and grease from the surface of your leathers in between intensive cleaning and conditioning sessions.
So there you have it – go forth and clean your leathers! If you’ve got any top tips for cleaning motorcycle leathers that we’ve missed let us know below – we’d love to hear your methods!