How to restore an old leather jacket?
January 10, 2015 8:18 AM   Subscribe

We're talking 1970's here. It's one of the old Harley jackets you got when you bought a bike.

It looks about like this one. Except nobody really took good care of it. It was my dad's, and his uncle's, so it's got a lot of wear and tear on it. Ideas for restoring it? I don't care so much about making it look "nice," that's beside the point, I just want it to last a long time.
posted by mrbigmuscles to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (3 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I am not a leatherworking professional but I've sold motorcycle apparel, including leather items, professionally since 2001. I have been trained in leather apparel care by BMW Motorrad and Vanson Leathers. I am also a recovering club-level roadracer, so I've worked with my share of stinky leathers.

If this were my jacket, I would begin by hand washing it in cold water and a little detergent in a bathtub. Rinse it very thoroughly and hang it to dry; aim a fan on it if you live in a damp climate. It may take a couple of days for it to completely dry. When it is dry, it's time to moisturize the leather. You have a couple of options here. Barnacle Bill (a well-regarded maker of race leathers) recommends using the cheapest hand lotion you can find. Personally, I'm a big fan of Dr Martens Wonder Balsam. Apply a layer, wait half a day for it to be absorbed, then apply more until a uniform thin film of moisturizer sits on the leather's surface. Take a clean, dry cloth and buff off the surplus.

Wear the jacket around a bit; give the moisturizer plenty of time to soak in. Then, if you want, you can touch up any scuffs or abraded areas with shoe polish. Use a horsehair brush to finish the polish; buffing with a cloth will create a finish that's too shiny.

Let us know how it comes out!
posted by workerant at 11:30 AM on January 10, 2015 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the input; I will be sure to update with pics.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 1:22 PM on January 11, 2015

How did it go?
posted by Monochrome at 7:49 PM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

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