restore leather

Leather items look great, and help people to feel at their best. However, when your leather shoes or leather bag is far from its best, or has seen better days, the impact is lost. Old leather can lose its sparkle, with cracks, wear and tear and faded colour, but there are ways to bring a tired and faded leather bag back to life.

Items to buy when restoring the entire surface of the leather

Things to consider when restoring leather include:

  • Leather conditioner
  • Reusable protective gloves
  • High quality leather polish 
  • Materials such as a cotton rag or lint free cloth, old cotton T-shirts work well
  • Rubbing alcohol, White Vinegar and Olive Oil

These items make the process of restoring leather and other surfaces easier.

faded leather sofa

Restoring the colour of leather items

Regardless of whether you are dealing with a leather jacket, leather bags, leather car seats or even a leather sofa, you can bring leather items back to life, but there are some things to consider. If the leather is in good condition physically, but the colour is faded, the restoration process is simpler. If the leather is cracked or has tears, it will require more work to restore it but doing something like this is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on buying a new couch. If everyone up-cycled / restored old furniture it would be a great contribution to sustainability.

Look out for stains when you restore colour to leather

The restoring process starts with the cleaning phase. Remove dirt and debris from the couch, and be sure to clean the leather with warm soapy water, with a sponge or soft cloth. Lukewarm water is enough for simple cleaning work.

If there are stains or the leather is dirty, you might need something more substantial, such as white vinegar or rubbing alcohol (always test a small area first).   You can also buy leather cleaning products if you need more help.

Prepare the leather

If you are looking to add colour to a leather item, it is best to prepare it first, as this helps leather take up a more permanent feature on the surface. Removing wax, oil or silicone which prevent leather colour from permeating makes sense, and apply preparer with a dry cloth, and with a thin layer to start.

You can buy leather preparers but often, an abrasive pad or sandpaper works. If colour transfers from the leather item to your pad or cloth, exposing the initial colour, you know the process is working.

If there are cracks or notable wear in the leather, using a leather binder makes sense. The leather materials absorb the binder, helping to pull the leather fibres together. Apply with a binder with a sponge, and allow each coat to dry. Depending on the leather goods and area covered, you might need up to five thin coats of binder.

Be mindful of leather binding around stitching and the surrounding area, you should wipe excess amounts away with a cloth.

Fixing a cracked leather surface

The leather binder helps prevent cracking and tears in the future, but if you have existing cracks or a scratched area, you need to repair these when revitalising your leather.

There are leather repair kits and filler material, and you apply this with a flat surface (say a spatula or palette knife or for small sections, a bamboo cotton bud) to a cracked area. Smooth this material out, and when the crack is full, allow it to dry.

This might take around 30 minutes to dry naturally and when completely dry, use fine sandpaper to smooth out the section. You can apply a layer of binder to the newly restored section.

Recolouring the leather

Given it is the loss of colour that impacts most people when looking at faded leather, it is natural people want to add colour to leather items. If you’re keen to restore the original colour, look for a sofa dye or colourant that matches the initial colour. (Bear in mind that the initial colour is likely faded.)

If you want to apply a new colour to your leather, work out what colour you want to see, and then buy that.

Always start with a small amount in an inconspicuous area, so you can colour match and ensure no problems arise when you cover it with dye.

New colour revitalises faded leather

With leather colourant, shake the bottle well, and then pour a minor amount of colourant onto a sponge. With circular motions, rub a thin coat of colour into the leather material, including cracks, gaps and places you cannot reach.

If you rub too much colourant in, leather dye or excess polish, wipe excess material away with a sponge or clean rag. Always use gentle strokes when applying dye or colouring to leather in an even layer.

Allow each layer to dry but you can speed the process with a hair dryer or heat gun. Apply as many coats or layers as required to ensure the leather looks good.

Buff, polish and finish the surface to great effect

Once you have the colour you want, you can start the leather finish process. Again, apply this substance in thin layers, allowing each new layer to dry before applying the next. Leather finisher protects the leather, but it also adds a soft touch, making the leather feel more luxurious. If you care about the feel of leather as much as the look, this is an important step.

leather sofa

Leather conditioner is a good investment

If you are serious about caring for leather products, such as leather furniture or clothes, investing in leather conditioner is a smart move. With proper care and attention, you don’t need professional help to remove scratches and prevent further damage. Remove excess conditioner with a rag or cloth.

When you restore colour, and buff out the surface of the leather, it looks shiny and as good as new, and you can enjoy leather jackets, furniture and items for a long time and help save items ending up in landfill.

Written by 

Hi, I’m Frankie. This is my blog (Thoroughly Modern Grandma) about blending old fashioned values with modern technology, whilst trying to reduce our waste and be a little kinder to our Planet.

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