How to Clean Lederhosen Properly (and not damage them!)

Made a mess and now you need to know how to clean Lederhosen without ruining them? Been There. Done that!

Let’s be honest, you don’t wear lederhosen to a tea party. You wear them to drink beer, dance on tables at a fest, and have a good time! And with all that fun comes a lot of sweat, spills, and stains. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly clean your lederhosen.

What you NEED to Know:

I’ll give you step by step instructions in a bit, but I don’t care what ANYBODY else says:

DO NOT DRY CLEAN YOUR AUTHENIC LEDERHOSEN! And oh sweet Beer Gods, above, pleeeease don’t tell me you’ve thrown them in the wash, right????

But in all seriousness, cleaning lederhosen is actually not that hard. But first, we’ve got to know what we are working with!

Living in Bavaria for the last 10 years myself, I have been to my fair share of fests, from Oktoberfest to our local village’s Volksfests to the amazing Almabtriebs! And while I personally don my Dirndl, my hubby busts out his Lederhosen each time. Let’s just say after many-a-night of festing it up, we’ve had to learn how to wash Lederhosen without ruining them a time or two!

Luckily, leather is extremely durable! According to the “Leather and Hide Council of America” (yes, that is apparently a thing!) many people today are actually choosing leather because of its sustainability. See!? Germans were SOOO ahead of the fashion trends when they picked their Trachten (Traditional Clothing)


How do I clean Lederhosen?
Answer: You don’t. Wipe off the mess and let it air dry to remove smells


First and foremost, lederhosen are made of leather (Leder= Leather. Hosen= Pants). And I am assuming that if you bought REAL German leather pants that you paid a pretty penny for them.
And since leather actually requires special care, you can’t just throw them in the washing machine with your jeans and call it a day. Leather needs to be cleaned and conditioned properly to avoid damage.

Note: Lederhosen often has decorative elements like embroidery, buttons, and buckles. These embellishments can be delicate and require extra attention when cleaning. You don’t want to accidentally damage them in the process.

Lederhosen Care

Look, we’ve all been there. You are at a traditional German festival, maybe even Oktoberfest. Or, you possibly even tried out one of the more unique festivals in Germany that AREN’T Oktoberfest. I also know there are some pretty fun “Oktoberfests” now all over the US as well.

And then it happened.

You were eating that delicious bratwurst and just right at that next bite……PLOP! A giant glob of mustard found its way RIGHT onto your brand new (very expensive) authentic German Lederhosen!

how to wash leather pants
The day Andy dropped mustard onto his Lederhosen (Wah. Wah!)

Oh wait….no? That was just my husband that that happened to???? Ok, well, I can’t tell you how many times he’s also had:

Beer Stains

Let’s face it, if you’re wearing lederhosen, you’re probably drinking beer. And beer spills (or worse!) WILL happen. But beer stains can be tough to remove, especially from leather. You don’t want to end up with a permanent stain on your beloved lederhosen.


Dancing on tables singing your heart out to Sweet Caroline (yes, seriously) can be hard work, but someone’s gotta do it! This problem is that sweat can leave behind unpleasant odors and stains.

Other…(let’s call them)Mishaps

Nobody wants to be THAT guy at Oktoberfest but look, it sometimes just happens. The Maß just hit differently here and it can sometimes be easy to overdo it. If you find yourself in a situation where you are suddenly finding that Schnitzel Semmel (Sandwich) on your pants hours after actually enjoying it the first time, way more than the second time, you are going to need to do some serious damage control.

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How To Wash Lederhosen

Ok, so you’ve got a mess on your hands. Well, in this case, your Lederhosen. You can’t very well head to next year’s Oktoberfest with mustard stained pants……or can you??? Dun Dun Dun!!!!

Step 1: Absolutely, Positively, DO NOT Machine Wash

Hey, I am as lazy as the next person and I am not ashamed to admit that I throw things in the washer and dryer that were absolutely not supposed to be in there. And there are SO many reasons why tossing Lederhosen in the washing machine is a terrible idea:juftrem

  1. The heat can discolor them
  2. So why not wash them in a cold wash? Because when leather gets too wet, as it begins to dry, it pulls out the oils in the hide, which leads to cracking and ultimately ruining that smooth, soft leather
  3. Detergents and soaps can easily ruin leather
  4. Water and leather do not go hand in hand- it will ruin authentic leather!

Step 2: To Dry Clean Lederhosen Or Not To Dry Clean. That is the Frage! (Question)

This is where the hot debate comes in. If you ask a real Bavarian (you know, those men with the twisty comical mustaches, felt hats with giant feathers coming out of them, and a guy who clearly knows his way around a Maß) he would tell you that you’d be crazy to get your Lederhosen dry cleaned!

However, I’ll admit that sometimes, something so terrible happened that there really is no going back from. So, even though many people will say that dry cleaning Lederhosen is the best way to clean them, I (well, most BAVARIANS) would probably argue that this is a last ditch effort.

Tip: If you absolutely must get your Lederhosen professionally cleaned, don’t just go to any dry cleaner. There are so many different types of leather and it’s a difficult material to care for, so check to see if they know how to work on Lederhosen first. If you were in Munich for Oktoberfest, your best option is to find someone locally before heading home, as they probably have years of experience in the matter.

Step 3: Brush It Off

It sounds a bit gross at first, buuut the reality is that most (let’s just call it all) “stuff” will eventually dry on top of Lederhosen. Since it’s leather, most material (yes, even vomit) won’t actually soak into the leather.

You can get really affordable Leather Brushes which can work wonders on even the toughest of mistakes stains. Just be sure that the bristles aren’t wire, which can scrape and damage the leather.

You might have to but some elbow grease behind the brush, but a few rounds of this and most everything should start to come off, so you can head onto the next step.

Step 4: Air Out The Lederhosen

This sounds strange, but when Germans come home from a fest, the way they “clean” Lederhosen is by setting them outside in the fresh air. And it’s actually pretty surprising just how well this works! It’s pretty amazing how quickly the fresh air helps to eliminate any orders (including that horrible day-after beer spill smell!)

So, if your Lederhosen smell or just have a few small stains, go ahead and set them outside first.

IMPORTANT NOTE: While it’s true that fresh air is one of the best things for Lederhosen it is absolutely imperative that you do NOT set them out in direct sunlight! This can bleach out the colors of the Lederhosen.

Step 5: Microfiber Cloth and (Juuuust a little!) Water

If you’ve done the above steps and are still stuck with an unsightly stain, then it’s time to move on to the next step. With a clean, microfiber rag you can get it damp. Notice I did not say wet. Damp! The water should be lukewarm but not hot.

Start blotting the stain and try to remove as much of it as possible with as little water as possible. Getting your Lederhosen wet like this won’t ruin them, but you still want to be careful as to not overdue it.

Tip: While it should be your absolute last resort, if you’ve tried everything else, you can attempt in the ever so smallest amount, a special soap, like this one, that is specially made for leather products. But honestly, I wouldn’t even do this.

Step 6: Air Dry Wet Lederhosen

If you did have to wash your Ledhosen with some water, don’t panic. Your authentic leather Lederhosen can still come out looking dashing for that next festival! However, this next step is pretty crucial if you got them wet.

  1. At this point, air-dry your pants. Room temperature is best for this as you don’t want them to dry out too fast from any heat.
  2. Drying them flat is best
  3. IMPORTANT: Depending on how wet you needed to get your pants, be sure to move them frequently and gently as they dry.
  4. It could take several days for Lederhosen to dry completely

Step 7: Kneed The Leather

Movement is Lederhosen’s friend! This is why the more you wear a pair of authentic Lederhosen the more comfortable they will be become. So, after your Lederhosen are dry, you can almost “kneed” the pants, but if nothing else, give them some gentle pulling, tugging, etc to make sure that they haven’t gotten stiff from the drying

Step 8: Condition the Lederhosen

Again, this is not needed if you could simply just air out your pants. You definitely do NOT need to wash and condition your Lederhosen after every use! In fact, that could wear down the leather faster.

However, if you did need to wash your Lederhosen, especially if you had a lot of clean up to do, then it’s not a bad idea to condition the leather at this point.

Note: While it’s not something to do regularly (and definitely not if you are someone who is just wearing your Lederhosen once or twice a year for a festival) but conditioning your leather pants every FEW years probably isn’t the worst idea, either. But again, this should be done pretty sparingly and only really when needed.

Step 8: Forget ALL The Other Steps and Wear Your Stains With a Badge of Pride!!!

I know the idea of wearing stained or dirty clothes sounds less than appealing and while some gentle brushing of stains (and definitely airing out) for your pants is never a bad idea, the reality is that most Bavarians very, very rarely ever actually wash their Lederhosen.

It’s not uncommon to see faded mustard stains, past beer stains, etc and truly it’s seen as a badge of honor for many people.

Trust The Leather Patina: The more you wear Lederhosen, the better they become!

Patina is more or less basically the sheen and look that leather takes on after a long life of love (and plenty of fests!) It’s the natural aging process of leather but really only happens to high-quality leather. Some people call it “grease” but thinking of it more like the natural oils in the pants sounds less gross than “grease.” Therefore, the patina of each Lederhosen takes on its own life since there are many different tanning processes and procedures.

This is why many Bavarians are “proud” of their loved and worn in Lederhosen. Because it tells a story of all the events, special occasions, and festivals that it’s seen!

Breaking In Lederhosen for Comfort

Part of this “Patina” process is the more you wear Lederhosen, the more it takes on a life of it’s own. Since leather often starts out stiff, the more and more you wear them, the more broken in it will become. Instead of hard, stiff leather, they actually become super soft, super pliable, and shockingly, pretty darn comfortable (albeit maybe a bit warm)!

How Do You Store Lederhosen?

Let them Breathe.

Keep them out of the sun.

Lederhosen shouldn’t be folded.

The two most important parts of storing Lederhosen properly are allowing them to breathe and keeping them out of direct sunlight.

Welcome to the “Ask LeAnna” Series

Have a unique question that only a Germany Travel Expert may answer? Hit me up! Send me an email at [email protected] re: “Ask LeAnna Series”

So, when Ben Anderson in my Travel in Bavaria Facebook asked the hive mind, “Just got back from our amazing trip to Germany (thank you LeAnna and this group for so much helpful advice, it truly made our trip so much easier!) Unfortunately, while at Oktoberfest, I got hit by a ketchup squirt and now I need to clean my Lederhosen. I know I can’t toss them in the wash, should I send them to a dry cleaner or are they done for?”– I just knew I had to answer it in more detail here. I hope you enjoyed and learned a thing or two (and didn’t ruin those Lederhosen!)


How do you clean authentic lederhosen?

The easiest way to clean Lederhosen is to get a Leather brush and just brush off any stains. Airing out Lederhosen is one of the best ways to do “lighter” cleaning. Absolutely do not machine wash Lederhosen and even dry cleaning can be risky. It’s best to just spot clean with very minimal water at home.

How do you soften Lederhosen?

The best way to break in Lederhosen is to just simply start wearing it more! If you need to break it in quickly, even just doing things like squats in the pants can help break them in. Another easy way to soften Lederhosen is to put them over a rounded chair top and move them back and forth over the chair getting gentle movement into the pants.

Are Lederhosen Comfortable?

The first time you put on Lederhosen they should actually be just a little snug because as you break them in, they will become more pliable and “stretchy.” After your Lederhosen have been properly broken in, they are actually shockingly pliable, soft, and surprisingly comfortable!

Why Don’t you Wash Lederhosen?

Lether contains natural oils from the tanning processes and when Lederhosen gets wet, as they dry, the oils will evaporate from the pants. Instead of a soft, smooth leather, this leaves Lederhosen as a more dried out hide. When leather dries out, it becomes extremely stiff resulting in cracking. This is why you should never wash a pair of authentic German Lederhosen.

Can you get Lederhosen Wet?

While you shouldn’t wash Lederhosen completely with water, if they do get wet, or you do need to spot clean them with a little lukewarm water, it’s not the end of the pair of pants! Just make sure that they air dry at room temperature lying flat. As they dry, continually move them around so that they keep their shape and form and they should still be good to go.

Will Lederhosen Stretch?

Yes. The more you wear Lederhosen the more it will stretch! This is why you should actually buy Lederhosen a bit snug, so that as it stretches out with wear it becomes the perfect fit to your body!

Is It Offensive to Wear Lederhosen in Germany?

No. Most Germans don’t even wear Lederhosen and the ones that do, truly do not see it as cultural appropriation if tourists wear them. The thing about Lederhosen is that it’s not worn everywhere in Germany. In fact, IF Trachten (Lederhosen and Dirndl) is worn, it is going to be worn in the more southern parts of Germany and typically only for special occasions and festivals.

Is it Ok to Wear Lederhosen at Oktoberfest?

Yes, it is true that the vast majority of people (Locals and Tourists Alike!) wear Trachten (Lederhosen/ Dirndl) to Oktoberfest! If you want to wear Lederhosen as a tourist, nobody will care that you are not German. Alternatively, if you come wearing “normal” clothes, nobody will think twice about that either. Just come and enjoy, no matter your clothing choice!

Are lederhosen German or Austrian?

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