Cleaning Your Leather Motorcycle Gear

You’re not fooling anybody. You’ve polished every inch of chrome on the bike, you’ve checked the battery 12 times, you even cranked the engine over a few times “just to see”.

In all honesty, your bike hasn’t been this clean since, well, last year at this time.

And you’re running out of stuff to do. You blew through all the gift cards for new gear and go-fast stuff and have already screwed it on and adjusted it. You know what you haven’t done? Cleaned your leathers.

They still smell like old football cleats. And, for some reason, cheese.

So, short of springing for new leather, what are your options to not only keep your riding leathers in good shape, but also to make sure they last longer?

Now, in this case, I’m only talking about the gear you strap on and actually wear – saddlebags, boots, and seats are a whole different ballgame since they are a much thicker leather … and if we have time, I’ll come back to them.

Nope, right now I’m just talking about your jacket, vest, your chaps, or, if you’re old school, your pants. You wear them every damn where and if your friends are really your friends, they will tell you they smell.

So what can you do about it?

Start with a clean slate. Have your leather professionally cleaned now. Sure, it’ll cost you a few bucks, but you’ll get out all the funkiness and grime – in the actual leather and the liner that you don’t want anyway.

After that, the path gets a lot easier. You’ll want to start with a high-quality leather cleaner and apply that per the directions on the bottle to all your leather, then wipe it off and buff it. With that done, the next step is critical – you need to apply a conditioner to that leather. No matter how good the cleaner is, it will still strip out some of the oils that occur in the leather – the conditioner helps to add those back in.

Again, follow the directions!

For those of us who live where it gets and stays hot for months on end, another great addition is a product to “de-salt” the perspiration that you’ve sweat into the jacket and pants. In many cases, this is really the culprit in why your jacket falls apart and the lining gets ratty.

In some cases, you can simply spray the product on and be done with it, in others, you “wash” the lining to remove the salt. Obviously, this needs to be the first step in your overall leather care, but some of your guys in Canada are lucky – it’s just hard to sweat when the temperature is 60 degrees.

The key part of this process is that you have to do this on a regular basis. If you ride a lot (like me), you probably need to be doing this at least every couple of weeks. A lot of riders can get by with a good once-a-month cleaning, but you really do have to do it.
Please… tailgunning behind a guy that smells really sucks.

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