How to Remove Scuff Marks on Leather

Leather furniture is wipe-down easy to maintain, until it gets scuffed or scratched. Signs of wear may not be so charming when the library loveseat is rubbed rough by cufflinks or the leather-covered dining chairs are sporting scuff marks. You don't have to live with those imperfections -- use a few simple remedies to restore your real or faux leather to near-pristine shape.

  1. Full- or Top-Grain Leather

    • Minor scuffs on full- or top-grain leather may respond readily to a light application of olive oil or another plant-based oil. Always check the manufacturer's cleaning instructions and test your remedy on an inconspicuous part of the furniture to be sure it won't stain or darken the leather. Just pour some room-temperature olive oil on a clean cloth and rub it into the scuff mark until the mark disappears. Let the oil soak in, and wipe the area several hours later to remove any excess oil. Alternatively, rub wax shoe polish in a matching color into the scuff mark and buff it with a lint-free cloth. For dark marks on white or light-gray leather, white toothpaste with baking soda, gently rubbed in with an old toothbrush, should clean off the scuff mark.

    Suede Furniture

    • Luckily, suede is a rough-textured leather, so buffing and even filing it will remove scuff marks. Use a suede brush, like the kind you use for shoes, to tackle the scuffed area. A household "magic" eraser may remove a dark scuff mark from light suede. Try an emery board, carefully rubbing the scuff mark to remove the microscopic bit of surface stain. Test on an unseen spot first for color damage, and, if there is none, use a very mild detergent on a damp clean cloth to rub off the scuff. As a last resort -- and with extreme caution -- shave the scuff off the suede with a very sharp knife. Obviously, this method is the riskiest approach and it will only work on very thick suede.

    Patent Leather

    • The patent-leather-covered dining room chairs are your Modern or Art Deco delight. Keep them showcase-perfect and shiny with a damp -- not wet -- cloth and very mild soap and water. When they get scuffed, restore their gorgeous gleam by rubbing the area with a microfiber cloth or a gum eraser. Test before trying, and then tackle stubborn marks with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol; be careful to wipe the area dry with a soft cloth immediately after you remove the scuff mark. You could also try a small amount of petroleum jelly on a clean cloth. Rub the petroleum jelly into the scuff, followed by a wipe-down with a damp cloth to remove any film.

    Bonded Leather

    • Bonded leather is actually vinyl. It's an economical faux-leather made with leather fibers bonded into a synthetic base. Unfortunately, it doesn't wear anywhere near as well as full-grain leather -- but there is one thing you can try if your bonded leather sofa or chair gets scuffed. Get a leather-and-vinyl repair kit with tints you mix to match the color of your furniture. Test the tint on the back or bottom of the piece to be sure it blends unobtrusively. Then follow the directions in the kit to cover the scuff mark.

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