How to Easily (and Safely) Get Wrinkles Out of Leather

Grab some rubbing alcohol and a pillowcase.

leather
Photo: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images

Confession: back when I was a fashion intern, I burned a pair of leather pants minutes before they were supposed to be featured in a runway show.

In the moment, I felt like my career in fashion was over, but now I know that second chances do exist. I'm not the only one who has struggled to figure out exactly how to get wrinkles out of leather garments. Irons and steamers are a no-brainer for cotton, linen, and just about everything else. But leather, on the other hand, could end up being completely ruined by those go-to wrinkle releasers. So what's the real solution?

Well, just like skincare, preventing wrinkles on leather pants, dresses, and tops is often easier than correcting them. That's why I like to properly store all of my leather pieces, hanging them on hangers to minimize the risk of creases or indents. Cheap hangers can actually cause more wrinkles over time, though, especially along the shoulder area on leather jackets. So my go-to hangers are these high-quality, yet affordable ones on Amazon.

However, even when you're diligent about properly storing your garments, wrinkles can happen. Some of the toughest wrinkles to remove from leather might actually be the ones created long before the leather garment enters your house (an unexpected downside to online shopping). Air-sealed packaging might be great for shipping logistics, but they tend to leave a stubborn crease in leather pieces.

To make tackling this challenge easier for us all, I've rounded up the best tips for how to get wrinkles out of leather clothing, summarized below.

  • Steam your leather clothes in the bathroom.
  • Stretch leather clothes with rubbing alcohol.
  • Iron leather clothes on the coolest setting with a pillowcase.

How to Get Wrinkles Out of Leather with Steam

You can do this one while you're getting dressed without adding any time to your morning routine. Instead of breaking out an actual steamer, go ahead and hang your leather garment up in the bathroom, whether it's on a hook or draped over the shower curtain rod. While you're in the shower, let the steam do its magic and make the stiff fabric pliable. Be careful not to hang the leather piece too close to the water or the drops will leave water stains behind. Let it sit for about 10 minutes to release the wrinkles.

How to Get Wrinkles Out of Leather with Alcohol

Leather can also be stretched, and a great wrinkle-releasing solution can be made by mixing one part water with one part alcohol in a spray bottle.

From a distance, lightly mist the pants (don't soak them) with the spray bottle solution. If it's your first time using the alcohol method on a leather item, test it in a small area first to make sure no color will rub off. If it doesn't, that's the green light to spray it all over. The alcohol will loosen up the stiff fabric, and you can use your hands to smooth any creases.

Since alcohol can be drying, finish the process with a moisturizing leather conditioner.

How to Get Wrinkles Out of Leather by Ironing

To be honest, this method gives me flashbacks to my interning-days disaster. But if you absolutely feel you need to use an iron, turn the heat setting down to to the coolest point. Then, after you arrange your leather item on the ironing board, grab a pillowcase and spread it on top of the garment. That extra layer of fabric will create added protection from the iron's heat, making it safer to use.

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