How to Make a New Leather Jacket Look Old

Leather jackets are a timeless addition to any wardrobe. And while new leather has a wonderful appearance, smell and feel, it cannot beat the comfortable look of an old, worn leather jacket. Just flip through a fashion magazine, and you may see models or celebrities wearing some sort of distressed leather. You can mimic this look and give your new leather jacket a more vintage appearance by using either your washing machine or with another distressing method.

Buy leather jackets to distress at yard sales and thrift stores to save money.
Image Credit: Pablo Scapinachis/Hemera/Getty Images

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth

  • Cotton Ball

  • Wire Brush

  • Towel

  • Hair Dryer

  • Fine- To Medium-Grit Sandpaper

  • Liquid Saddle Soap

  • Rubbing Alcohol

  • Washing Machine

  • Laundry Detergent

  • Dryer

Washing Machine Method

Step 1

Set your washing machine to the cold cycle. Add regular detergent to the detergent cup. If your washing machine doesn't have this cup, pour the detergent directly into the water.

Step 2

Submerge the leather jacket in the water. Close the lid and let the leather jacket wash.

Step 3

Remove the leather jacket from the washing machine and wring out the excess water that is still trapped inside the jacket. This helps create wrinkles that will distress the jacket.

Step 4

Place the leather jacket in the dryer and dry it on medium heat until it's completely dry.

Step 5

Repeat the entire process at many times as needed to achieve the distressed look you want.

Distress by Hand Method

Step 1

Fill a sink with cool water and add a few drops of saddle soap. Submerge the jacket into the water. Rub parts of the jacket against other areas on it to create suds. The saddle soap helps soften the leather.

Step 2

Squeeze the excess water out of the jacket. Crumple, twist and roll the jacket while it is still wet to help distress the leather.

Step 3

Cover a flat surface with a towel. Lay the wet leather jacket out flat on the towel.

Step 4

Blow-dry the jacket, holding the dryer about 8 inches from the leather, with a hair dryer set on its maximum temperature. This will cause the leather to age and crack, creating a distressed look.

Step 5

Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol. Rub the damp cotton ball over the leather to dampen the fabric. Add more rubbing alcohol to the cotton ball as needed.

Step 6

Drag a wire brush across the leather to give it a worn look. Gently rub the leather with a piece of fine- to medium-grit sandpaper in a circular motion. Apply additional pressure to the sandpaper where needed.

Step 7

Dampen a clean cloth with water and wipe the leather jacket clean.


Beating the leather jacket with a baseball bat or hammer also helps give it a worn-out look. You can also use chains, washers or other metal implements to beat the leather and give it an old look.


Remember that anything you do to age the leather jacket cannot be undone.