Storing a Motorcycle Jacket Without Ruining It

Joanne Rushton
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Is this your first winter storing a motorcycle jacket? 

I’ll get right down to it, because I know the feeling of staring down a winter without any riding, and it’s no fun. 

Get these few steps right, and you’ll avoid pulling out a mold-ridden, smelly mess for that glorious first ride next spring. 

It all starts with cleaning. Then I’ll walk through how to store leather and textile jackets properly, long term, plus tricks for avoiding a bad outcome when you go to break out that gear again. 

Let’s get into it. 

Cleaning Your Jacket (The Most Important Step) 

Before we even think about storage, you need to clean that jacket. 

I know you’d rather run yourself over with your bike. 

But if you don’t clean that jacket before you store it, you’re inviting all the smells, fungi, molds and whatnot creeping around in the fibers to have a banger while your jacket is stored away. 

This goes for all your gear, helmets too

Clean BEFORE you store. Or else you’ll be buying a new jacket next season. 

Cleaning does not have to be hard, though. However, it can literally involve just a trip to the laundry room and back. 

Here’s my full guide to in-depth cleaning of textile and leather motorcycle jackets. 

In this guide I go through:

  1. Prepping your jacket for cleaning (including understanding the all-important label hieroglyphics) 
  2. Tossing it in the machine with the right cleaning product (NOT the regular detergent that will RUIN your jacket)
  3. Drying and conditioning it (without destroying waterproofing)

Your jacket is already clean? I’ll take your work for it. Here’s how to store it. 

Storing a Leather Jacket (Easy, No Mold)

Ah, leather. The caviar of the motorcycle world. Storing leather jackets is an art form, and I’m here to turn you into a master. 

Let’s begin our journey.

  1. Make sure your jacket is absolutely, positively, 100% dry. It should have that classic leather sheen to it. Humidity? Not today, Satan.
  2. Time for some TLC: repair any damage, like loose stitching or tears. You will thank yourself when that first sunny day of spring comes, and you can go straight out with your good-as-new jacket. If you need help with repairs, I’ve got an article for that too.)
  3. Remove any armor or protectors, and store them separately.
  4. Find a sturdy, broad-shouldered hanger (see below*) that’ll treat your jacket with the respect it deserves. No wire hangers, ever! Your jacket needs room to breathe and air to circulate to keep mildew and smells away. 
  5. Store your leather masterpiece in a cool, dry, dark closet. The ideal humidity level is below 50%. No sunlight, no dampness, and no stuffy spaces. 
  6. If you must cover your jacket, use a fabric suit bag or paper. Plastic is a big no-no. Leather needs to breathe, remember?

You’re done!

* Don’t have any good hangers laying around? Modify a wood one with some cardboard, or pick up this specialized ‘shoulder saver’ hanger that keeps your jacket open, allowing air to circulate all around. That will prevent mildew and smells from developing. Is saving your beautiful jacket worth the cost of that hanger? Only you can decide.

Should you store your leather motorcycle jacket in a container? 

Avoid storing your jacket in a plastic container. Leather needs to breathe, otherwise mold can develop. Hanging is best, but if you must keep it elsewhere at least put it in a wood box or fabric suitcase and try to fold it as little as possible. Folds create areas where moisture can build and mold can start to grow. 

storing meme

Can you store a leather jacket outside, in a garage or shed? 

Store it inside if you can. Garages and sheds can trap a lot of humidity, and if your winter goes below freezing that cold can damage your jacket. Trust me, you don’t want to deal with the aftermath.

Storing a Textile Jacket (Low Maintenance AF)

Textile jackets – nylon, polyester, Kevlar, Cordura, and the like – are easy. The fibers in a textile jacket typically doesn’t erode or mold like leather on contact with moisture. It’s a pretty close cousin to plastic, which doesn’t care about much of what you throw at it. 

Follow the same storing process as I outlined above for leather jackets, but you can be a little looser with where and how you store your textile jacket. 

Plastic bins and trunks are fine for storing textile jackets. Just make sure the bin and jacket are clean and dry, and toss some silica gel packets in there to soak up any humidity. You can fold the jacket but not tightly: tight creases over long periods can create weak points (read: will tear in crash) on the fabric, and create points where mildew can take root. 

having no storage

If storing in a garage or shed, protect your textile jacket from temperature extremes, humidity, insects, and rodents. Some creatures will stoop to eating your Kevlar. 

BONUS 1: Storing Gear on the Go

There’s a shocking number of Reddit threads on the topic of what riders do with their gear on a break while they’re out on a ride. Given I’ve done a few cross-country trips myself as well as regular commuting, here’s my advice:

  1. Lock your gear down with a steel cable and padlock. Loop the cable through the arm of your jacket, the eyeport of your helmet, and the frame or forks of your bike. Padlock the ends together. That’ll stop most thieves. Though if I parked in the same spot every day, I’d go for the next option. 
  2. Store your gear in a top case and side bags. Toss your gear in those so it’s out of sight and much less likely to be nabbed. Revzilla carries plenty of cases and you can shop by the bike(s) you ride to find all the compatible options. You can also toss extra layers, rain gear, backup gloves, and groceries in those bags. 
  3. Suck it up and wear it. Get a jacket you love, and this may not be a big deal at all. Clip your helmet on your backpack with a carabiner and set off!

BONUS 2: Buy or Build a Gear Cabinet

Don’t want to think about storage every fall? Build or buy a dedicated motorcycle gear cabinet or hanger. 

The one pictured above has adjustable shelves so you can build it to fit your gear, whether that’s MX boots and armored shirts or race suits and slim boots. Pick this one up on Amazon.

If you’d rather DIY, get some ideas here and here

Image Source: Pinterest


Is it OK to store leather in plastic?

No, it’s not a good idea to store leather in plastic. Leather needs to breathe, otherwise, it can mold. Make sure not to crowd leather against other leather items and apply leather conditioner to keep it in tip-top shape.

How do I keep my motorcycle jacket from smelling?

Keeping your motorcycle jacket smelling fresh starts with proper cleaning, or just a couple spritzes of Febreze. Check out my article on cleaning your motorcycle jacket for tips and tricks on how to clean your jacket and prevent unwanted odors.

Should leather be hung or folded?

Leather jackets should definitely be hung on a strong hanger. Folds can cause damage to leather when stored folded for a long period of time, and create areas where mildew can build up. Always use a sturdy, broad-shouldered hanger to maintain the jacket’s shape and prevent creases.


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