How to Wash Motorcycle Jackets At Home

Riding a motorcycle regularly can take a toll on your jacket. After just a few months of riding, jackets can get extremely dirty from everyday wear and tear.

From falling off the bike to bumping into cars, textile jackets, in particular, can get grubby quickly. The sleeves get stained, the armpits turn black from sweat, and there’s always a graveyard of dead bugs.

Leather jackets also show signs of use, like oil spots from a leaky hub. But how can you get these jackets looking fresh again? Does washing motorcycle jackets actually work?

Many riders simply throw their textile jackets in the washing machine on a gentle cycle. But this rarely gets out all the tough stains, especially in light-colored areas.

For leather, some say it’s best to pay for dry cleaning every year. But that can get expensive fast – in a couple of years, you may as well buy a brand-new jacket!

The good news is you can safely clean both textile and leather motorcycle jackets at home. I’ve washed my riding jackets this way for years, and they still look great after countless washes. Here’s my proven process for deep cleaning motorcycle jackets without damage:

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Bucket or large tub
  • Laundry detergent or degreaser
  • Soft scrub brush
  • Water
  • Hanger

I like to use a powdered degreaser, the kind you’d use to clean oil stains on a driveway or garage floor. But regular laundry detergent works, too; I just find the degreaser gives more heavy-duty cleaning power.

Washing Textile Jackets

Start by filling your bucket or tub with warm water and detergent/degreaser, leaving room for the jacket later. I don’t add too many bubbles to the water.

Put the textile jacket in the bucket, swishing it around to soak all the fabric. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. I sometimes agitate the jacket in the water to help release dirt.

While it soaks, you can use your hands or a soft brush to scrub any extremely dirty spots – just don’t use anything too abrasive that could damage the fabric. Focus on the grimiest areas like the arms, armpits, and anywhere dead bugs accumulate.

Once you’ve spot-treated any stubborn stains, drain the dirty water and refill the tub with clean water. Rinse the jacket thoroughly, repeating the rinse cycle a second time to remove all soap.

Finally, remove the jacket and hang it over a sturdy hanger outside to dry. I drape mine over my basketball hoop so air can circulate all around.

Washing Leather Jackets

Believe it or not, you can wash leather jackets the same way! Fill your bucket with degreaser and water, then fully submerge the leather jacket. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes, agitating periodically.

You may need to remove the jacket from the bucket to scrub it with a soft brush. Focus on any visibly dirty areas where oil or road grime has accumulated. The soft brush lets you apply light pressure without damaging the leather.

Rinse the jacket twice in clean water to remove all soap residue. Hang it over a sturdy hanger outside to dry completely.

Leather may feel a bit stiff at first after drying. But after wearing it for a short time, the leather softens right up again. No damage done!

Drying and Results

Depending on humidity and sun exposure, both textile and leather jackets usually take 1-2 days to fully dry hanging outside. I check them periodically until they feel completely dry all the way through.

Once dry, it’s like having a brand-new jacket again! All the oil spots, sweat stains, and caked-on bugs will be gone. The colors look bright again on textile fabrics. And leather regains its soft, supple feel.

By thoroughly cleaning motorcycle jackets at home, you can save hundreds of dollars in dry cleaning costs. Better yet, you don’t need to replace quality riding gear nearly as often.

Just be sure to use mild detergent and take care not to damage any coatings on the fabric or leather. With the right techniques, washing your motorcycle jacket helps restore it to like-new condition so you can log more miles in comfort and safety.


Is it really safe to wash leather jackets at home?

Yes, as long as you follow the proper cleaning methods using mild detergent and avoid excess agitation. Leather is extremely durable and can withstand light scrubbing with soft brushes and sponges. Thorough rinsing is key to avoiding any damage.

How often should you clean motorcycle jackets?

I recommend washing textile jackets after every 4-6 weeks of regular use. For heavy use in hot weather, every 2-3 weeks.

Leather jackets can go a bit longer between washes, like 2-3 months. But don’t let them get too heavily soiled.

What temperature water is best?

Warm water helps release dirt and oil from fabrics. But don’t use hot water as it can shrink or damage materials. Aim for about 100°F – warm to the touch but not scalding.

Can I put motorcycle jackets in the washing machine?

It’s best to hand wash and air dry motorcycle jackets to preserve their shape, coatings, and water resistance. Machine washing risks damage to zippers, logos, and protective elements. Stick to gentle scrubbing by hand for best results.

How do I maintain waterproof membranes?

Use a dedicated