How to Clean a Letterman Jacket Sleeve

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Pins signifying accomplishments are often attached to the jacket's letter.

A letterman's jacket is typically made of wool, with a chenille letter covering the left breast and long, leather sleeves. Worn in high school or college, this coveted jacket means you played well on a sports team or achieved a particular academic status. However, one unfortunate spill at a party and your jacket will need cleaning. When the sleeves simply need to be freshened and cleaned, there are several at-home methods that will have your letterman's jacket looking new.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 cotton cloths

  • Water

  • Baby shampoo

  • Sturdy hanger

  • Shoe polish matching the jacket's leather

  • Hairspray

  • Leather cleaner

Step 1

Pour a quarter-size amount of baby shampoo onto the center of a dry cloth. Place the cloth under the faucet, turn the faucet on and quickly get the cloth wet. Turn off the water. Wring out the water so that the cloth is damp and lightly soaped, but not dripping or sudsy.

Step 2

Place another cloth underneath running water. Turn the water off and wring out the cloth. Set aside.

Step 3

Slip the jacket sleeves onto a hanger. Hang the jacket on a clothing rack or doorknob.

Step 4

Hold the jacket with one hand at the top right sleeve. Clean the sleeve with the soaped cloth by gently stroking the sleeve from the top to the bottom. Continue doing this over the entire sleeve, while being careful not to rub the cloth onto the wool.

Step 5

Pick up the damp cloth and gently wipe away any soap residue from the top of the sleeve to the bottom. Wipe the entire sleeve with the damp cloth, even if there isn't any visible residue. Turn the rag over and repeat. Run a dry cloth over the sleeves.

Step 6

Diminish the appearance of scuff marks by applying shoe polish. Place the bottle in the middle of the mark and carefully blot a thin layer up and down the scuff. Allow to dry. Notice if the mark is still visible, and repeat.

Step 7

Remove ink by holding a bottle of hairspray 3 inches from the sleeve. Pump twice to spray the ink. Wait 30 seconds. Rub gently in circles with a clean cloth until the ink disappears. Repeat, if necessary.

Step 8

Condition the sleeves with a leather polish. Place a quarter-size amount of polish onto a clean cloth. Rub gently onto both sleeves. Buff the sleeves afterward with a fresh cloth.


Spray a water-repellent on the sleeves after cleaning. This helps control moisture so that the leather stays supple. A dime-size of olive oil on a cloth also works well to condition leather.


Before using any products on leather sleeves, test the product on a less-visible area. Laundry detergent is too strong for leather. Refrain from covering the jacket in plastic, which can dry out the leather. Petroleum or mineral oil damages leather over time. Never rinse a leather sleeve underneath a faucet.