It’s only for a little while, but we’re fast approaching the time of year when it’s not practical to wear a heavy leather or suede jacket. That means it’s also time to send it to your local laundry and dry cleaner for a professional cleaning.

Once you get it back…not so fast! Don’t just store it away in the closet. There are a few preparatory steps to take.

Cleaning First

It’s important to always have your leather and suede coats cleaned before storing them for the warmer season. Regular minor cleaning requires just a damp cloth and cold water, but a professional cleaner is likely the only one who can remove ink stains and strong odors from leather or suede.

Do you own a suede coat? Keep it looking good by regularly brushing it. Ask your local laundry and dry cleaner for help locating a suede brush with short bristles. These brushes help to remove pieces of the napped leather. It’s best to gently rub the bristles against the suede’s grain. This will lift off dirt.

Stains left on leather for extended times can oxidize, and you may discover that they’re impossible to remove—even with the help of a professional cleaner.

Goodbye for Now

Once your leather or suede coat returns from a professional cleaning, it’s time to prepare it for storage. You don’t need anything special, but there are a few precautions.

The most important one is to store your leather or suede jacket away from excessive heat. Leather will expand when exposed to high temperatures—and this includes heat from an exposed closet light bulb or from a closet vent. Unfortunately, once leather expands, it’s not possible to restore it to the original shape.

Up for Air

While there’s nothing wrong with the local laundry and dry cleaner sending your leather or suede jacket home in a protective plastic bag, it’s not recommended to use the plastic for storage. Some people choose to fold and store cold-weather garments like sweaters and jackets. If that’s your plan for the leather or suede jacket, avoid using a non-porous container.

Leather garments need to breathe while being stored, metaphorically speaking. Plastic or a sealed container will dry out leather products. Instead use a cloth or netted garment bag. If you don’t have one, take an unused white sheet and tie it around your leather garment for storage.

No Wire Coat Hangers!

Joan Crawford allegedly hated them, and wire coat hangers are not a friend of your leather or suede jacket, either. They’re not substantial enough to support the weight of even a medium-sized leather coat. Wire coat hangers will bend and lose their shape.

Use a strong wooden hanger, instead. One made of cedar will also help to remove light odors that linger in the lining of your leather or suede jacket.

Follow these storage tips after you take your leather or suede jacket to a professional laundry and dry-cleaning service. It’ll be all set for wearing again when the temperature starts to fall.