Uh oh. Looks like you got a little bit of your dinner on your favourite leather jacket, or maybe you partied a little too hard the night before and noticed you spilled some of your drink onto your coat during the evening. Your first instinct might be to panic, but rest assured, there are plenty of simple ways to get that stain out of the jacket before it truly sets in! We recommend that you first try and clean it by hand, but if you can not seem to do so, it is okay to put it through the wash. Here are a few ways to clean your leather jacket without damaging it.

Before doing anything else, try to just wipe it down with a damp cloth or a wipe. Leather material is such that this will usually work. If this is not enough, try using a diluted detergent for set-in stains or dirt. When doing this, do so gently as leather is fairly delicate. If the diluted detergent just isn’t cutting it, you can spot clean with a little vinegar and olive oil. Spot clean with this solution and then use the rest to go over the whole jacket to give it a good conditioning.

Finally, if all else fails at home, consider going to a dry cleaner. Leather jackets don’t need to be cleaned frequently, so the cost will even itself out when you want to keep it in the best shape.

You can wash the jacket in a washer, but many people would recoil at the very idea. Leather often comes out of a washing machine looking damaged and cracked, but if you treat it the right way and follow the steps below, you are likely to come out with the pristine jacket that you put into the wash in the first place.

When you wash it, add just a bit of laundry detergent–around two tablespoons–before filling the machine with cold water on the smallest load setting. It is recommended to also put in some black clothing to help cushion the jacket and take in some of the water during the cycle. Zip the jacket, turn it inside out and stick that bad boy in there. Set the machine to run on the shortest time possible and on the delicate setting.

To dry, add all of the contents of the washer into the dryer along with several dryer sheets to keep the leather from drying out. Some recommend liquid fabric softener or hair conditioner, but if you are concerned about stains, stick to plentiful dryer sheets. Select the medium heat setting and turn on the dryer.

Check the jacket about every ten minutes. Turn it right side out, try it on. Stretch the sleeves a little for good measure, turn it inside out again and pop it back in the dryer. Do this for about 40 minutes, stopping every ten minutes to repeat the above process.

All in all, don’t panic immediately when you get your leather jacket dirty! Not very often will it come to anything over spot cleaning, but if it does, you can easily take care of it with either a trip to the dry cleaner or by very carefully machine washing it.