How To Wash A Motorcycle Jacket

What do you do when your favorite motorcycle jacket gets too dirty or takes on a smell of its own?

Washing, or cleaning, your motorcycle jacket might seem like a difficult task because of its size and material, but it is as easy as washing a T-shirt.
If you can smell it, so can everyone else. Wash your motorcycle gear a couple of times a season.©Motorcyclist

Gear gets dirty—bugs and grime gunk up the exterior, while your sweat funks up the linings. A moist cloth is great for spot cleaning—and the only safe way to clean leather motorcycle jackets—but when it's time for deep cleaning, it's time for immersion in soap and water at home or at the laundromat.

If you need to wash your stinky leather motorcycle gear, we recommend using some microfiber cloths along with warm water. For the exterior, make sure to condition the leather after cleaning. We use a textile motorcycle jacket in this example, but the process is the same for other motorcycle gear, such as helmets, pants, gloves, and boots.

Step 1: Check The Washing Instructions

Make sure to check the washing instructions on your motorcycle gear to ensure that you don’t ruin it.
Check the tag on the inside of your gear and wash according to the manufacturer’s instructions.Motorcyclist

Before you think of washing your motorcycle jacket, make sure to check that little tag sewn to the inside of your gear. Manufacturers will break down the best way to wash, treat, and dry your article of clothing. Follow the instructions and you’ll keep your gear clean and in great shape in case of a crash—or don’t and risk destroying it.

Step 2: Empty The Pockets

The first step in washing your motorcycle gear is to empty the pockets of your items and the gear’s protective armor too.
Pull out that stick of gum, and the gear’s armor too.©Motorcyclist

Remove any armor from the shoulders, elbows, and back of your jacket, and remove any interior liners. Mark similar-looking pads so they go back where they came from. Check your pockets for earplugs and other items, and then zip them closed. If you can turn the jacket, or pants inside out, do so after you pretreat any exterior stains. Make sure to close the main zipper and all sleeve and cuff zippers.

Step 3: Pretreat The Exterior

Pretreating stains on the exterior of your motorcycle jacket means that your gear will come out of the wash spotless.
Pretreat any exterior stains: bugs, road grime, oil stains, whatever.©Motorcyclist

If you live in a buggy region or do a lot of off-road riding, your gear may need a little extra attention before the big wash. Pre-treat especially dirty areas with a brush and diluted detergent. If you are washing a leather motorcycle jacket or pants, skip the brush and wash the exterior with a microfiber cloth. Make sure to turn your jacket or pants inside out before continuing to the washing machine.

Step 4: Hand Wash Or Machine Wash

Follow the label and hand wash or machine wash your dirty motorcycle gear.
Following the instructions on the inside of your gear, you can either hand wash or throw your jacket in the washing machine.©Motorcyclist

Hand washing your gear is the safest option, but a front-loading washing machine—on gentle—will work for textile gear; your leather motorcycle jacket will have to be washed by hand. Why such care for an ostensibly tough piece of apparel? While the jacket’s chassis can take a thrashing, the fabric’s exterior coatings and interior laminations can be fairly delicate. Most laundromats have industrial-size front-loading washers that are perfect for the job.

Step 5: Keep It Waterproof

Protect the water-repellent properties of your motorcycle gear by washing it with specifically designed waterproof detergent.
Through regular usage—and washes—your motorcycle jacket will lose its waterproof properties.©Motorcyclist

Over time the water-repellent coating that's applied to the exterior of many textile jackets will wear off. Adding a waterproofing solution such as Nikwax to the wash will restore your jacket's water-beading ability. Refer to the instructions on the bottle.

Step 6: Let It Dry On A Hanger

Air-drying your motorcycle gear will take longer than throwing it in the dryer but will keep it in better shape.
Let your jacket air-dry.©Motorcyclist

Air-dry your apparel on a hanger or lay it flat on a dry towel to help absorb the moisture. Don’t lay it down on a counter or put it back in your closet wet. Never put motorcycle gear in the dryer unless the manufacturer explicitly allows it, and even if they do, make sure to put it on the delicate setting. Do you need your motorcycle gear to dry faster? Pointing a fan at your jacket will accelerate the drying process.

Step 7: Reinsert Armor And Liners

After your gear has dried, make sure to put all protective motorcycle armor and liners back into your apparel.
Put everything back in your dry motorcycle gear and you’re good to go for a ride.©Motorcyclist

Once your gear is dry, slip the armor back into place, reinstall any interior liners, and revel in the brightened colors and neutral aroma of your freshly washed apparel.