Oktoberfest - ein Fest der Landeshauptstadt München
Photo: Sebastian Lehner

Lederhosen - to wash or not to wash?

How to handle deerskin properly

Beer, chicken fat, sweat - anyone who has partied hard during Oktoberfest season knows that lederhosen can withstand a great deal, but will, at some point, require a clean. Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as simply popping the mighty pants into the washing machine, rather you must exercise caution when washing your lederhosen to protect the sensitive material.

When do you need to wash lederhosen?

In many minds, the firm belief continues to prevail to this day: you don’t wash lederhosen. Never! Of course that depends on your own pain threshold for stains. But when you consider the things that lederhosen comes into contact with over time, the need to wash them becomes almost unavoidable. Not every stain immediately calls for a full wash. Smaller stains can often be treated easily with stain remover. For more, check out the next section! A good pair of leather pants made from fine deerskin should have a certain patina, but if this later develops too strongly, it’s time for treatment. You know it’s high time for a wash when the leather begins to harden. That happens when the leather below the patina suffocates, i.e. it is practically sealed.

Different cleaning steps

The item must be aired prior to washing. Unpleasant stenches from festival tents can be removed from lederhosen by hanging them outside in the fresh air for a time. Don’t forget to take them inside — they can’t deal with rain. A wash isn’t necessary as soon as lint and similar defects appear, a lint roll or one-sided scotch tape can remove these effectively. You can first try to tackle any stubborn stains that have landed on your lederhosen with stain remover from a specialist store. A leather brush with soft rubber bristles that don’t change the color of the leather or a special eraser for leather goods are optimum solutions.

That’s how your lederhosen can survive a wash unscathed.

If a brush and eraser don’t do the job, you will have no other option but to give your lederhosen a thorough clean. The golden rule: Never use hot water to hand wash your pants as the leather will become as stiff as a board, making them highly uncomfortable to wear. Everyday curd soap has proven itself as an effective cleaning medium: it ensures that leather remains soft and retains its ‘oily’ shine. Carefully apply lukewarm water and soap and remove both, ensuring not to leave any residue. In certain circumstances, this process may take longer, much like drying. After you have carefully squeezed the water out of your lederhosen (don’t wring them out as it will damage the structure), place them down flat to try, ideally on a hand towel. You should turn the pants regularly while drying. If they appear harder than they were before washing, knead, stretch and expand them until they feel like they did before.

Cleaning your lederhosen: Leave it to the experts!

If you think cleaning your lederhosen is too risky or time consuming, you can always seek out an expert. They know exactly what your pants can and cannot withstand, and spend as much time washing and drying, as they do working the leather so that it is as supple as it was before. Professional dry cleaning for lederhosen will set you back between 40 and 50 dollars a pair - a worthy investment. Die-hard wearers of lederhosen know: People may come and people may go, but deerskin will never leave you flying solo. In other words: if kept in good condition, your lederhosen will outlive every other item of clothing in your closet.