can leather pants get wet

Can Leather Pants Get Wet?

Leather pants may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, they can make a person look incredibly chic and sophisticated. They are available in a variety of different cuts and designs and can be worn by anyone.

However, since leather is a relatively sensitive material, special care must be taken to ensure that it remains free from any form of damage. Water can affect leather negatively and strip it of its essential oils and lubrication.

This is why many people will advise you against getting your leather pants wet, by shielding them from rain for example. Let’s take a closer look at what effects water has on leather pants.

Common Reasons Why Leather Pants Get Wet

Leather pants should normally not get wet, and it is advised to only wash them when necessary. To help you better understand common circumstances and scenarios in which your leather pants do get wet, we have compiled the following list.

Hopefully, this will make you more aware of these situations and as a result, you’ll be able to be more conscious to minimize their exposure to water and moisture.


Pants are clothing items that are worn every day. If you are a person who likes to wear leather pants every other day, you will likely plan for more frequent washing cycles.

Washing your leather pants exposes them to water, which can lead to water damage if done too frequently. While you may opt for dry cleaning or spot-cleaning your leather pants instead, using a washing machine on a cold cycle in the lowest setting minimizes any form of long-term damage.

Weather Conditions

Rain can come unexpectedly and catch you by surprise. Even though you may have packed an umbrella for protection against the rain, you will only be able to adequately protect your upper half of the body.

Your leather pants may be better protected if you do wear a raincoat due to a likely higher amount of surface area being covered. That being said, leather pants commonly get wet due to rain.


If you notice any puddles on the street or road, be careful to steer away from them. Splashes from puddles can cause your leather pants to get wet, as well. Contaminants from the puddles can also interact with your leather pants, further damaging them.

Accidental Spillage

Picture the following scenario, you’re going out with some friends for a fun night out and end up accidentally spilling your favorite cocktail on your leather pants. Although it may only be a small amount, accidental spillages of water can be damaging to leather and can also happen frequently (sometimes even without noticing it).

In this instance, alcohol exposure can also serve as a double whammy, further damaging your leather pants. Alcohol can remove its natural tan or dye if left untreated.

What Happens When Leather Pants Get Wet?

Water damage on leather pants can have different types of effects, depending on how long they were exposed to water, what substance was spilled on them, and how much of the leather pants were affected.

In short, if your leather pants are consistently exposed to excessive moisture, sweat, or water, you can realistically expect the pants to experience water-based damage, which can be tough to reverse. Let’s take a closer look at some of the other effects.

Leather Pants Can Shrink

Leather pants that are overexposed to water can often dry up and shrink. This can cause them not to fit well around your lower body and will start feeling a little too tight for comfort.

Therefore, always adhere to strict guidelines for leather care. Shrinkage can also happen if you are overwashing your pants. The likelihood for shrinkage to happen exponentially increases if you are drying your leather pants in an inadequate or unsafe manner.

Leather Pants Can Peel If Overly Stiffened

If the leather pants are made of a bonded material, there is a high chance that the material will become stiff and begin peeling. The area most vulnerable to damage is the section around the knees and it may begin to crease and crack.

This is largely due to the knee area of your leather pants being the section that experiences most movement. As you walk or sit with your leather pants, your knees will invariably bend, causing the respective area of your leather pants to go through a folding and unfolding motion.

If your leather pants have elements of bonded leather, this is especially noticed due to the movement as described weakening the adhesion between the different leather components.

Leather Pants Can Form Mold & Mildew

If you allow wet leather pants to be stored in humid, warm, damp, and unventilated areas, they can develop mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can deteriorate the appearance of the leather, making them unfit for wear.

In addition to mold and mildew being visually off-putting, you will also likely notice a pungent smell being emitted. As both mold and mildew are classified as fungi, you can also expect your leather pants to weaken structurally if they’re left unchecked.

How to Dry Wet Leather Pants

Once your leather pants get wet, you’ll need to dry them as soon as possible. This is because water will start to enter the pores of the leather, drawing out the natural oils and fats that give it its supple appearance.

It is also essential to dry wet leather pants appropriately so that they are suitable for use later on. Without properly drying them, you can end up with leather pants that either feel too stiff, show discoloration, are shrunken, or even cracked.

The following points will help you better understand the correct drying process using some of the best practices that we’ve tried over a long period.

1. Use Absorbent Cloth to Remove Excess Moisture

To prevent any excess moisture from clinging to or remaining on your leather pants, place your wet pants on a dry towel and sandwich them between another dry towel. Press the pants with the towels on either side without wringing the material.

Wringing will cause visual damage. Simply apply a little pressure, as this allows the towels in absorbing all excess water present in the leather material.

2. Air Dry Leather Pants

Never dry your leather pants in a dryer or by using a hairdryer with heat. This is because hot air can cause the leather to become warped over time and it may even shrink.

Instead, we recommend hanging your leather pants in a well-ventilated, shaded, and cool area. Be careful to avoid any exposure to the sun since drying leather pants in the sun can cause them to fade and dry out.

If you are looking to quicken this process, you can always place your leather pants under a fan or use a hairdryer set to a non-heated mode.

3. Store Leather Pants Appropriately

Leather pants must be stored appropriately to ensure that the material doesn’t form any mold or mildew. To achieve this, you can use hangers, clip hangers, or fold them for use later on.

Make sure to read our guide on how to store your leather pants, so that you avoid them from getting damaged and also extend their lifespan.

About Matthew

Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast turned artisan. Apart from crafting leather products, I’m passionate about writing in-depth guides and reviews on all things leather!