Will soaking Cr- tanned leather jackets with hot water ruin the jacket?

Discussion in 'Outerwear' started by high-maintenance, Nov 21, 2020.

  1. high-maintenance

    high-maintenance One of the Regulars


    Do you guys have any experience in soaking the leather jacket in hot water? (of course not boiling hot) (tap water hot)

    Will this ruin the jacket? or will it release toxic chemicals? (I read hexavalent chromium can be harmful)

    I have a jacket that is now too big for me so I want it to shrink a bit.

    Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead

    TooManyHatsOnlyOneHead Practically Family

    Do it all the time. What's going to shrink it is heat when drying. Hot water on leather, I wouldn't suggest. You might scorch it. But you want to get the leather soaking wet and then either bright, hot sunny day outside or stick in dryer.

    Warning, due at your own risk. I've done like at least 6 jackets that needed a little shrink. All of them turn out great, but you really got to watch it in the dryer. Check every 10 minutes kind of thing. I'd keep zipped up too so hopefully the shrink in the torso is uniform.

    If you need to shrink like a full size or something, I wouldn't recommend. The liner is going to get all messed up and possibly sag and the zipper gets wavy. You also need to condition afterwards if it's in the dryer long time (I'd say more than 20-30 minutes), but make sure fully dry before you do it. You don't want to seal in the water in the leather if you're using some sort of wax based, etc. Keep in mind that conditioner will make it expand some.

    I just did a Schott cross zip I had because it was fitting a little wide and long. Hosed it down flat on the ground (otherwise water just runs down and the bottom will get soaked but not the rest) and let the water seep in. You can spin cycle it so it's not overly saturated, but you want to make sure the jacket is completely wet otherwise you risk mismatch sizing.

    I went probably like 10 minutes too long and I got a small overall wave in the zipper line but it's fine. I was trying to give it a more weathered look anyway. I might hit it with some extra conditioner tomorrow to see if I can sort of spot correct it along the zipper line but try and keep the shrinking in.
    high-maintenance likes this.
  3. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    No hot water. Luke warm is ok but really the shrinking comes when you dry it fast in a dryer. But this is not a science and you can end up with uneven shrinkage - too short in the sleeves but no difference in the width. I've washed many jackets and always dry them over several days in the shade. Never had shrinkage.
    high-maintenance likes this.
  4. Guppy

    Guppy My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Cleveland, OH
    It does go against the recommendation of every leather garment label to use heat to dry it. In general shrinking leather to fit is risky, and I wouldn't recommend trying it unless it was a jacket that you didn't care about ruining if it doesn't turn out well.
  5. high-maintenance

    high-maintenance One of the Regulars

    Thank you all for your advice! Guess I'll just leave it be. Thank you.
  6. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

    South of Nashville
    I had a vegetable tanned generic MC jacket that was a little too big for me after I lost some weight. Soaked it in warm water in the bathtub and let it slowly dry over a day or so. Worked a treat and shrank down to a good fit. When it was dry, I put a coat of Pecard on it. Turned out nice and supple, just the way it was before. That was 15 years or so ago, and it's still going strong.
    JustinW likes this.
  7. marker2037

    marker2037 A-List Customer

    Willemstad, Curacao
    The biggest threat to putting a jacket in the dryer is the liner and zipper fabric shrinking. That's why you could get a wavy zipper.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.