Should I store my leather jacket in a plastic bag?

Quick Answers

Storing leather jackets in plastic bags is generally not recommended. Plastic bags do not allow leather to breathe, which can lead to mildew and other damage over time. However, for short-term storage, a plastic bag can help protect the jacket from dust and pests. Consider storing leather jackets in cloth garment bags or uncovered in a cool, dry place instead.

Is It Okay to Store a Leather Jacket in a Plastic Bag?

Storing leather in plastic bags or non-breathable materials is generally not recommended. Leather is a natural material that needs some airflow to prevent mildew and other damage. Plastic traps moisture next to the leather, creating an environment for mold and bacteria to grow. This can lead to stains, cracking, and deterioration over time.

However, for very short-term storage, like a few weeks, a plastic bag can help protect a leather jacket from dust, pests, and light damage. Make sure the leather is completely clean and dry before bagging. Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag tightly to minimize condensation. Never store leather wet or damp in plastic.

For long-term storage, leather jackets need space to breathe. Non-breathable materials like plastic will likely cause issues over months or years of storage.

Why Shouldn’t You Store Leather in Plastic Bags Long-Term?

There are a few key reasons why storing leather items in plastic long-term is problematic:

Moisture Buildup

Plastic bags create a humid microenvironment when sealed, as moisture has nowhere to escape. This provides optimal conditions for mildew, mold, and bacteria to grow, which can stain and break down leather. Even if stored leather seems dry initially, natural humidity can condense inside the bag.

Lack of Airflow

Leather requires some airflow to prevent moisture buildup. Without air circulation, humidity gets trapped inside the bag, encouraging mold growth. Breathable materials like cloth or burlap allow ventilation while also protecting from dust and pests.

Cracking and Stiffening

Lack of airflow also causes leather to dry out and become stiff or cracked over time. Leather needs occasional air circulation to remain conditioned and flexible. Keeping it sealed in plastic long-term accelerates the drying process.

Risk of Condensation

If leather gets even slightly damp then is sealed in plastic, moisture condensation can form inside the bag. This creates prime conditions for mildew and bacteria. Never store damp leather in plastic. Always let items fully dry out first.

Light Damage

Plastic bags can magnify and focus light onto leather, which can cause fading and damage over prolonged exposure. Light can pass through clear or semi-translucent plastic.

For these reasons, most leather experts advise against keeping leather goods in plastic for extended periods. Limit plastic bag storage to a few weeks at most.

What Is the Best Way to Store Leather Jackets Long-Term?

Instead of plastic bags, use breathable storage methods for leather jackets in long-term storage:

Cloth Garment Bags

Loose-fitting, light-colored cotton or canvas garment bags allow airflow while protecting from dust and pests. Make sure the bag is large enough that the jacket is not compressed inside. Shake the jacket occasionally to circulate air and hang unzipped every few months.

Acid-Free Tissue Paper

Wrap jackets in acid-free, archival-quality tissue paper then place in a cloth garment bag. The tissue paper helps absorb excess moisture and prevent folding creases while still allowing some airflow.

Uncovered in Cool, Dry Storage

Hanging leather jackets uncovered in a closet or storage area is an easy, plastic-free method. Make sure the space is clean, dry, dark, and well-ventilated. Avoid attics, basements, or garages if prone to moisture or extreme temperatures. Maintain temperature control between 60-75°F.

Leather Conditioning

Before storage, apply a leather conditioner to prevent drying and cracking. Use conditioning products specifically formulated for leather. Test in an inconspicuous spot first and follow product directions. Recondition every 1-2 years.

Cedar Planks, Shavings, or Strips

Natural cedar has an aroma that acts as a mild pest and moth repellent. Place cedar panels, strips, blocks, or shavings in storage containers to help deter insects. Cedar also absorbs extra moisture.

Storage Chests or Cabinets

Well-ventilated storage chests, armoires, and cabinets allow airflow while protecting jackets. Look for versions with slatted or mesh sides for breathability. Cedar-lined options provide enhanced pest protection.

How Should You Prepare a Leather Jacket for Storage?

Proper preparation is key to prevent damage when storing leather jackets long-term:

– Clean the jacket thoroughly before storage to prevent attracting pests and Growth of mold. Vacuum lint, gently brush suede, and spot clean stains. Do not immerse leather fully in water. Allow to dry completely.

– Inspect for damage like mold, discoloration, or signs of pests. Address any issues before storage.

– Store in a climate-controlled area away from extreme temperatures, humidity, and light exposure. Ideal conditions are 60-75°F and 35-55% relative humidity.

– Use non-plastic, breathable storage materials. Cotton, burlap, and cedar are good options. Or store jacket uncovered in a clean, dry place.

– Fill out any creases or wrinkles and hang jacket on a wide padded hanger to prevent indentations. Stuff shoulders with acid-free tissue.

– Condition jacket with a leather protectant before storage. Test product on small hidden area first. Reapply conditioner periodically.

– For extra pest protection, place cedar panels, mothballs, or sachets in storage container. Use temperature-controlled cedar cabinets if possible.

– Check periodically for any signs of damage like insects, mold, or excessive dryness. Air out jackets every 3-6 months.

Proper storage conditions, breathable materials, and preventative conditioning will help preserve leather jackets in pristine condition for many years. Avoid plastic bags for long-term leather storage.

What Are the Risks of Storing Leather in Plastic Bags?

Storing leather goods in sealed plastic bags comes with certain risks:

Mold Growth

Trapped moisture allows mold colonies to grow, especially if stored leather gets damp. Mold causes permanent stains and damage.

Bacteria Formation

Bacteria accumulates in humid environments, leading to foul odors, stains, and deterioration.

Loss of Conditioning

Moisture loss and lack of airflow can cause leather to dry out and become stiff, cracked, or brittle over time.

Pest Infestation

Insects or pests can chew through plastic and breed inside if leather is not cleaned before storage.


Plastic magnifies light, which can fade or discolor leather. Darker plastic reduces this risk.


Improper storage may lead to warped or misshapen leather items over time.

Odor Absorption

Leather can absorb plastic or rubber odors from the storage bag.

To limit these risks, store leather uncovered or in breathable, acid-free tissue for long-term storage. Frequently monitor for any signs of damage. Limit plastic bag storage to less than a month when possible.

How Long Can You Store a Leather Jacket in a Plastic Bag?

For short-term storage, leather jackets can be kept in a plastic bag for 2-4 weeks at most. Any longer increases the chance of moisture buildup, light damage, odor absorption, and other issues:

– 1-2 weeks: Safe for temporary storage like moving or travel. Inspect frequently.

– 2-4 weeks: Maximum recommended time frame before problems develop.

– 1-2 months: Not recommended. Will likely cause odor and stiffness. Higher risk of mold or bacterial growth.

– 3+ months: Dangerous for leather. Will cause cracking, warping, discoloration, pest damage, and decay over time.

Even if storing a jacket for a few weeks, take precautions like:

– Cleaning and drying leather thoroughly first
– Pressing out all air pockets from bag
– Keeping bag sealed and away from light
– Monitoring for condensation buildup
– Maintaining cool, dry conditions

For any storage beyond a month, use archival tissue paper in breathable garment bags or uncovered hanging storage. Never store leather long-term in non-breathable plastic.

Short-Term Leather Storage Tips Using Plastic

If you need to use plastic bags for temporary leather jacket storage:


Clean jacket thoroughly with leather cleaner first and let dry completely before bagging. Leave at least 24 hours to dry.

Moisture-Absorbing Inserts

Place archival blotting paper or acid-free tissue inside the bag to absorb excess humidity. Change paper if moisture develops.

Air Squeezing

Press out as much air as possible before completely sealing bag to minimize interior condensation.

Breathing Periods

Unseal plastic bag once a week to allow airflow and release trapped humidity, resealing afterwards.

Dark Storage Area

Keep bag in cool, dark closet or cabinet away from light to prevent fading or damage from plastic magnification.


Frequently check bag for moisture accumulation or any pests. Address issues immediately if found.

Leather Conditioning

Apply leather conditioner before bagging to protect against drying. Avoid products with alcohol that may damage finish. Test first.

With vigilance and care, plastic bags can provide temporary protection for leather storage up to a month. But for long-term needs, use more breathable archival methods.

How Should You Store Leather Jackets for Seasonal Changes?

Switching leather jacket storage between seasons comes with unique considerations:

Spring Transition Tips

As weather warms:

– Dry clean jacket first and allow 1-2 days to fully dry before bagging
– Store with cedar blocks or sachets to deter pests from spring warmth
– Use lightweight cotton bags vs. plastic to prevent overheating
– Fold jacket with acid-free tissue paper to absorb moisture
– Avoid attics or garages that get too hot in summer

Fall Transition Tips

As weather cools:

– Take jackets out of storage 1-2 weeks before wearing to recondition
– Unpack and air out in cool, dry place away from direct sun
– Inspect carefully for any pest damage before wearing
– Use leather cleaner and conditioner to restore supple feel
– Check pockets for items left from previous season
– Safely store any removed summer linings until needed again
– Assess for any repairs needed from prolonged storage

General Principles

For both seasons:

– Store off-season jackets in breathable garment bags, not plastic
– Maintain temperature between 60-75°F with 40-50% humidity
– Prevent direct light exposure which can fade colors
– Use cedar lining or blocks to repel moths and insects
– Check periodically for pests, mildew, or excess dryness
– Limit plastic bag storage to one month maximum

Proper transitional storage protects leather and prepares jackets for wearing in the next season. Take time to clean, condition, and aerate before returning to use.

Signs of Damage from Storing Leather in Plastic

If leather develops issues from plastic storage, watch for:


– Black, green, or white fuzzy mold colonies or spots, often with musty odor
– Permanent staining even if mold growth is removed

Bacterial Damage

– Noticeable stench from bacterial accumulation
– Discoloration or slimy/sticky residue on leather


– White cracks or fissures on surface of leather
– Increased brittleness and stiffness


– Twisting, misshaping, or distortion of leather item’s form
– Parts that used to lay flat becoming wavy or curled

Pest Damage

– Visible nibbling, holes, or edges chewed by insects
– Frass (insect debris or droppings) inside packaging


– Noticeable lightening in color from light damage
– Patchy loss of dye especially near seams or edges

Catching issues early is key before permanent damage sets in. Be vigilant when temporarily bagging leather in plastic.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you store leather jackets in plastic garment bags?

Storing leather in plastic garment bags long-term is not recommended, as plastic traps moisture and prevents airflow. Use breathable cotton or canvas garment bags instead. Plastic bags are only acceptable for very short-term storage of 1-2 months maximum.

Does leather need to breathe when storing?

Yes, leather requires some air circulation to prevent issues like mold, mildew, and drying out. Non-breathable materials like plastic can damage leather over time. Use garment bags made of canvas, mesh, or cotton for storage instead.

What happens if you store leather in plastic?

Storing leather in sealed plastic long-term may cause cracking, stiffening, mold or bacterial growth, pest damage, odor absorption, and other issues from lack of airflow and light magnification. Limit plastic storage to 2-4 weeks at most.

Should you cover leather jackets when storing?

Some light coverage is recommended to protect leather jackets from dust and pests during storage. But avoid non-breathable plastic bags or sheets. Use loose cotton or canvas garment bags, uncovered hanging storage, or archival tissue instead.

Where should you store leather jackets in the off-season?

Store leather jackets in the off-season in a cool, dry place away from direct light and humidity extremes. Ideal conditions are 60-75°F and 35-55% relative humidity. Use cedar-lined closets or chests if possible. Never use attics, basements, or garages prone to moisture.

Key Takeaways

– Storing leather jackets in plastic bags long-term often causes damage like cracking, mold, and pests. Limit plastic bag storage to 2-4 weeks maximum.
– For proper seasonal or long-term storage, use breathable cotton/canvas garment bags or archival tissue paper instead of plastic.
– Leather needs airflow to prevent issues. Completely sealing leather in plastic traps moisture and bacteria over time.
– Prepare jackets for storage by cleaning, conditioning, and drying thoroughly. Check periodically for pests or deterioration.
– Ideal leather storage conditions are 60-75°F with 35-55% relative humidity and limited light exposure. Use cedar lining for enhanced pest protection.
– Signs of plastic storage damage include warping, stiffening, odor, and mold or bacterial colonies. Address any issues immediately.
– With vigilance, plastic bags can provide very temporary protection. But for storage over 1-2 months, always use breathable archival methods.

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