Steaming a Jacket | Down, Leather & Everything in Between

can you steam a jean jacket

One of the most frequently asked questions about specific clothing pieces is whether you can use a clothing steamer on them. I often get asked “Are clothes steamers good for jackets?” and the answer really depends on the type of fabric.

Therefore, in this blog post, I’ll cover the most common jacket and coat fabrics and how they react to a steamer. Let’s start with the two fabrics that you need to be the most careful with – leather and suede leather.

Steaming Leather and Suede

If you have a leather jacket, hanging the jacket in the bathroom whilst you take a long hot shower is the safest way to remove wrinkles. Just make sure you hang the jacket somewhere that it will not get wet. Water will remove natural oils from leather and cause damage.

The back of the door, or the off the washbasin are two areas you could hang your leather jacket, if your curtain rail is long enough hang at the opposite end of the shower head. Running the shower for at least 15 minutes will help relax the wrinkles.

Naturally, close the door and windows, and do not use the fan to allow the steam to build up in your bathroom. Don’t forget to open it all back up afterwards and allow the fresh air to help dry out your bathroom so mold does not occur.

Smooth your hand over your jacket to help remove the wrinkles after steaming. Hang it on a clothes hanger to dry out of direct sunlight.

If you have tried hanging your leather jacket in the bathroom and it is still wrinkled get out your clothing steamer. Generally, heat causes shrinkage in leather, so it’s important to use a low heat and steam setting.

Turn your clothing steamer on to the lowest setting – you do not want huge bursts of steam pouring out onto your leather jacket. This is likely to damage the leather. Using the lowest setting, hold the steamer head at least 4 inches away from the leather and gently steam the wrinkles.

If you feel like your leather has shrunk from the heat or steam, you can stretch it again using rubbing alcohol – but… you will need to condition it again afterwards as the alcohol will dry out the leather.

Suede is more delicate than leather but can also be very gently steamed. Applying steam to suede will bring out the leather’s pores and cause any loose material on the surface to fall away.

You can also use steam to remove wrinkles from suede – but you have to be careful not to get suede wet. Using a suede brush will help buff up the nap and remove dirt particles from your suede jacket.

Whatever you do, please don’t put your suede or leather jacket in the washing machine or clothes dryer.

Can You Steam a Faux Leather Jacket?

Faux leather can be steamed, using the same method for steaming leather and suede above.

Please keep in mind that faux leather has a plastic composition which can easily shrink with too much heat. Make sure you keep your clothing steamer on the lowest setting and at least 4 inches away from the fabric.

You could also try turning your jacket inside out before steaming. Again, run your hand over the faux leather after steaming to smooth out the wrinkles. You may want to keep a soft cloth close by to assist with this and be careful, as the fabric may be warm. Touching it directly before it has cooled down may cause burns.

Can You Steam a Down Jacket?

Down jackets can be steamed and are best steamed on a low heat and steam setting. Steam the jacket on the inside, rather than the outside.

If the down gets wet it won’t fluff back up until it is completely dry. You’ll want to give it a good shake and hang to dry completely.

You can also put your down jacket in the clothes dryer on a low heat setting and add in a few tennis balls with the jacket. The tennis balls will help to break up any clumps of down that have formed when they have got wet.

Can You Steam a Wool Jacket?

A garment steamer is an excellent choice for wool. Wool is relatively easy to steam, however wool doesn’t like high heat. Use the lowest setting of your clothing steamer and don’t press the sole plate of the steamer against the wool fabric.

Instead, hold the steamer head at least 3-4 inches away from the wool jacket and let the steam penetrate the fibers. Slowly move the steamer over the wool jacket. If the jacket is lined, you could also try steaming it from the inside out.

If you don’t have a steamer, use the steamy bathroom method I’ve talked about above, or boil the kettle and let the steam flow up into the wrinkles of the jacket.

Can You Steam a Denim Jacket?

Denim will respond better to higher heats to completely get rid of the wrinkles, so you’ll want to set your steamer to the highest steam setting. Being a thicker fabric, it may take a couple of goes over the wrinkles to remove them (this really depends on how powerful your steamer is).

Steaming a denim jacket won’t give you flat, pressed look like an iron will, but is an effective way to remove creases. For more information on steaming denim, including photos of my jeans steamed (versus ironed) take a look at this post here.

Can You Steam a Velvet Jacket?

Velvet is incredibly delicate and can be easily damaged. Even though you can steam a velvet jacket, you should still do so with care.

Hang the jacket on a sturdy coat hanger (padded will help to alleviate hanger marks), and using the lowest heat and steam setting, gently run the steamer over the wrinkles, holding the steamer at least an inch away from the fabric.

Follow with smoothing your hand over the velvet to brush the nap and help relax the wrinkles. Test the heat of the fabric before you do this to avoid any burns to your hand.

If you don’t have a garment steamer, hang the velvet jacket from a shower rod and fill the bath with hot water. Let the steam rise and penetrate the velvet jacket for around 15 minutes, gently smoothing wrinkles with your hand.

After steaming the jacket, give it a light brushing with a soft clothes brush to lift the nap. If there’s persistent wrinkles, or visible stains it’s time for the dry cleaners.

Can You Steam a Polyester Jacket?

Polyester is one of the toughest fabrics around, but it does not respond well to direct heat. Using a steamer is an excellent choice for a polyester jacket, although be careful not to touch the jacket with the hot steamer head.

Have you every seen shiny marks on polyester that won’t come out? That’s what happens when polyester is exposed to too much direct heat. Set your clothing steamer to a medium temperature or steam level. Hold the steamer an inch away from the jacket and steam lightly.

Don’t hold the steamer in one place for too long, make a sweeping type motion with your hand to gently remove wrinkles. Despite being an incredibly durable fabric, if you scorch polyester there’s a good chance the damage might be permanent.

Can You Use a Steamer on a Suit Jacket?

You can steam a suit jacket, but like other delicate fabrics, you should steam with care. Here’s a few tips to not ruin your suit!

  • Start with a lower heat and steam setting. If this isn’t enough, gradually increase heat and steam (if your steamer has multiple settings). If it doesn’t have settings, simple hold the steamer further away from the fabric.
  • Don’t pull on the suit, it can easily lose its shape. This includes the arms.
  • Hold the steamer head at least 1 inch away from the fabric.
  • Steam the inside of the suit if the fabric has a pattern or particular design on it.
  • Use a sweeping motion over the fabric, don’t hold the steamer in one place for too long.

How to Steam Wrinkles in a Nylon Jacket

Nylon is best ironed on a low heat without the use of steam. If you don’t have an iron, use the lowest steam setting and use a steamer bonnet to help diffuse the steam. If you don’t have a bonnet with your steamer, you can also cover the head of the steamer with a lightweight sock or footlet.

I show you how to do that in another post here.

Work from the inside of the jacket, rather than the outside.

Conclusion – Can You Steam a Jacket or Coat?

Steam is gentle on fabrics and very versatile. Most fabrics will tolerate a gentle steam as opposed to ironing. I steamed a dry clean only coat with excellent results, and avoided a trip to the dry cleaners.

The best advice I can give you with steaming a jacket is to start with a low steam setting and work up from there. You can always steam again or turn the steam up to a higher level if needed.


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