Your favorite pair of leather pants have been hanging in the closet for a while, and when you look at them, they’ve got a deep crease and lots of wrinkles. So, can you iron leather? I will explore this and tell you how it can work great for more than just leather pants.
Leather can be ironed using low heat at 120 degrees Fahrenheit and a pillowcase or butcher paper for protection. Wrinkles can also be removed from leather using a steamy bathroom, clothes steamer, or hair dryer. Hanging or storing leather properly is important for preventing wrinkles.
Do you have a leather jacket that looks wrinkled, but you are unsure how to remove them? There are several ways to iron leather without damaging the material to keep your leather items wrinkle-free and looking sharp.
What Is Ironing Leather?
Ironing leather is an effective method for smoothing wrinkles on leather pants, skirts, jackets, and more. Ironing is also part of the tanning process to make leather smoother and shinier by flattening the grain.
Using an iron at a low temperature and a few other supplies, various leathers can be ironed depending on their type and finish. Ironing leather not only removes wrinkles and creases, but it can also help fix leather fibers, adding durability to the material.
What We’ll Explore
- Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
- History of Ironing Leather
- Ironing Leather Overview Table
- Why You Might Want to Iron Leather
- Can You Iron Leather Characteristics
- Can You Iron a Leather Jacket?
- Can You Iron Leather Pants?
- How to Iron Leather Step by Step
- Can You Steam Iron Leather?
- Can You Iron Faux Leather?
- Pros of Ironing Leather
- Cons of Ironing Leather
- Alternatives for Ironing Leather
- My Personal Research Into Ironing Leather
- Helpful Ironing Leather Insights
- Key Takeaways
Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions
It has been said that ironing leather is just like ironing cotton or polyester. However, this is false because leather is a complex material that can be damaged if not ironed correctly. It has also been said that leather cannot be ironed, but this is also mostly untrue because the only leather that shouldn’t be ironed is suede and other full-aniline leather.
History of Ironing Leather
The practice of ironing clothing and materials began in China with a piece of heated metal. The clothing iron was invented in the U.S. by Henry Seely White in 1882. Ironing leather started sometime in the early 1900s as part of the tanning and processing practice and was used to make the material more durable and shiny.
Ironing leather at home emerged sometime in the 1970s as leather clothing became more popular. There have been many changes in the practice of ironing leather as manufacturers have found better ways to protect the leather and achieve a particular look while keeping the material wrinkle-free.
Ironing Leather Overview Table
|Suede and other full aniline leather||Should not be ironed|
|Wax coating||Can be ironed at low heat only|
|Faux leather||Can be ironed, 120 degrees Fahrenheit max and covered with a pillowcase or butcher paper|
|Real leather||Can be ironed using high heat on the back side or 120 degrees Fahrenheit max and covered with pillowcase or butcher paper on the front side|
|Suede and other full aniline leather||Should not be ironed|
Why You Might Want to Iron Leather
Leather is usually a soft and supple material, but with wear or usage, it can develop wrinkles. One might want to iron leather because it’s been worn for a while and has creases in the arms or legs where they bend.
It could be the leather pants that have been draped over the back of a chair or hanger for an extended time and have developed a bend. Even leather sofas sat on for a while will develop wrinkles and not look or feel as luxurious. These are all good reasons to consider ironing leather.
Can You Iron Leather Characteristics
One thing to consider before ironing is the type of leather. Most leathers can be ironed, but suede should not. Faux leather and real leather can be ironed at a max of 120 degrees Fahrenheit as long as they are protected with a pillowcase or butcher paper.
Wax coatings are necessary for ironing leather to protect the material. This is part of protected leather, which has a smooth finish. Semi-aniline is dyed, has a very thin protective coating, and can be ironed. Bonded leather is scraps bonded and coated with polyurethane to give a smooth finish and can be ironed. Full-aniline is brushed leather and includes suede which should not be ironed.
There are only a few items needed for ironing leather. First is the leather item and perhaps an ironing board, but a smooth and flat surface, like on top of the dryer, will work. Then one needs a clothing iron and a pillowcase or butcher paper. If there are deep or numerous wrinkles, one may also use a spray bottle with tap water. Leather conditioner is ideal for applying once the leather is cooled.
When ironing faux or real leather on the front side, set the iron to no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit and cover it with a pillowcase or butcher paper. If ironing the backside of leather (pants, skirts, shirts, etc.), up to 270 degrees Fahrenheit may be required.
Ironing leather only costs about $9 for a roll of butcher paper or $3 for a pillowcase, and $10 for a clothes iron. Then there’s a leather conditioner to apply once the leather has been ironed and cooled, which averages about $8 for a 5-ounce bottle. If one already has these on hand, it costs nothing to iron leather but a little time and patience.
Can You Iron a Leather Jacket?
Ironing a leather jacket isn’t usually suggested, but it can be done. Always protect the leather jacket with butcher paper or a pillowcase and use low heat to avoid damaging it. Another way to remove wrinkles from a leather jacket is by hanging it in a steamy bathroom for about 10 minutes.
Remove stubborn wrinkles by gently pulling or smoothing them by hand. Apply leather conditioner once the leather jacket has cooled to prevent drying out. Then hang it properly on a hanger and avoid any parts bending against the back wall or shelves.
For a detailed demonstration, watch this helpful video from Bruce Gershon as he irons a leather jacket.
Can You Iron Leather Pants?
Leather pants can be ironed to remove wrinkles. They can be turned inside out to protect the outside or covered with a pillowcase or butcher paper and ironed on the outside. Leather pants can also be hung in a bathroom with a hot shower running for 10 minutes.
Remove stubborn wrinkles by gently pulling or smoothing them by hand. Apply leather conditioner once the leather pants have cooled to prevent them from drying out. Use pant hangers with clips to prevent any bends or wrinkles from occurring while not in use.
How to Iron Leather Step by Step
- Set the iron to a low setting (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Lay the leather on a sturdy, flat surface.
- Cover the leather with a pillowcase or butcher paper.
- Slowly and gently run the iron over the cover to iron the leather.
- Don’t leave the iron in any spot for more than a few seconds to avoid burns.
- Allow the leather to cool completely before moving it.
- Apply leather conditioner.
- Hang or store properly to avoid future wrinkles.
Always protect leather while ironing with a pillowcase or butcher paper.
Can You Steam Iron Leather?
Absolutely not! A steam iron is too hot for leather and will burn it, while the moisture will lead to shrinking and drying out. A better option is steam from a hot shower in the bathroom. Simply hang the leather away from the moisture in the bathroom and let it sit in the steam for 10 minutes. Then wrinkles can be smoothed out by hand.
Can You Iron Faux Leather?
Yes, you can iron faux leather in the same manner as real leather. Faux leather usually contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyurethane (PU), which are plastics and can wrinkle if stored improperly. When an iron is used on faux leather, it causes the PU or PVC to relax, and wrinkles can be ironed out.
Cover the faux leather with a pillowcase or butcher paper to protect the material. Set the iron to the lowest setting to avoid melting. Then just don’t keep the iron too long in the same spot, as this will damage faux leather.
Pros of Ironing Leather
Ironing leather has many pros, starting with removing wrinkles and creases. It can also fix leather fibers and prevent overstretching, which adds durability. Ironing leather can also work to remove stains.
Cons of Ironing Leather
Ironing leather can take some time, so patience is required. Discoloration may also occur if there’s too high heat used or a dirty cloth is used to cover the leather. The heat from the iron will also dry the leather out as essential oils in leather are dried out.
Alternatives for Ironing Leather
Use a hanger to hang leather items like clothing to release and prevent wrinkles. Gently pull on the item to release wrinkles and apply a light water mist. Apply leather conditioner once the leather has dried completely.
A hairdryer can be used on the coolest setting and about 6 inches away to warm the leather gently, then pull by hand. Hang the leather item up and use a back-and-forth motion with the hair dryer for up to 30 seconds in each area. Apply leather conditioner once the leather has cooled to keep it supple.
A clothes steamer on low heat (less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit) can be used on the inside of leather items. Turn the item inside out and hang it. Apply the steamer about 6 inches away and all over the leather item to steam evenly. Keep the steamer moving, and don’t hold it in any one area for more than a second. Apply leather conditioner once the leather has cooled.
Hang in Steamy Bathroom
Hang the leather item on a hanger in the bathroom, away from any moisture. Run the shower with hot water and steam the leather item for about 10 minutes. Use a gentle pulling motion to smooth out any deep wrinkles before the item cools. Apply leather conditioner after cooling.
Properly Store Leather
According to research published in the Leather and Footwear Journal by Sefaah, Asante, and Duako, wrinkles naturally occur in animal hides before they are tanned and processed, and leather manufacturers use methods like dyeing and stamping to reduce their appearance. When stored improperly, sometimes, these natural wrinkles can reoccur.
Hang leather items carefully to prevent creases and bends. Avoid rolling up or folding leather items, and don’t throw them over the back of a chair. Always hang up leather items that have been cleaned immediately to prevent wrinkles.
My Personal Research Into Ironing Leather
I polled friends and family to find out whether or not they’ve ever attempted to get wrinkles out of their leather items and how they did it. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about ironing leather.
|Can You Iron Leather?||Times Selected|
|I’m not bothered by wrinkles in leather.||19%|
|I iron my leather items.||26%|
|I steam my leather items.||19%|
|You can iron leather?||46%|
Helpful Ironing Leather Insights
Can you steam iron leather?
A steam iron is not recommended for use on leather because it can damage the fibers and cause shrinking. Steam can be used to release wrinkles from leather but in an indirect method. To release wrinkles from the leather, hang the item in the bathroom (away from any water) and run a hot shower for about 10 minutes to produce steam for the leather.
How do I get wrinkles out of leather?
Wrinkles can be removed from leather by ironing the backside or placing a pillowcase or other protective layer on top of the leather and ironing. Steam can also be used by hanging leather items in the shower while a hot shower runs. The best method is to prevent wrinkles in leather by hanging them up or storing them properly.
Will an iron ruin leather?
An iron can ruin leather if it is not used properly or if the leather isn’t protected. Always iron the backside of the leather or cover it with a protective layer (like a pillowcase) to prevent the iron from burning the leather. Also, remove any water from a steam iron to avoid moisture or steam from coming into contact with the leather.
- Leather can be ironed at 120 degrees Fahrenheit max on the outside and 270 degrees Fahrenheit max on the inside.
- Always protect leather while ironing with a pillowcase or butcher paper.
- Never iron full aniline leather, as this will damage the fibers.
Wrinkles in leather can be unsightly, but now you have the tools to remove them using an iron and steam. Hopefully, the tips and tricks covered here will lead you to successfully getting wrinkles and deep creases out of your leather products.
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