How to Restore Damaged Leather

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Repair scratches or cracks on your leather items to have them looking like new.
Repair scratches or cracks on your leather items to have them looking like new. (Image: leather bag image by Alex White from Fotolia.com)

Properly maintained leather can last for years, but it can easily become damaged with cracks and scratches. Restoring your leather's luster when it starts to show signs of wear-and-tear takes some patience and "elbow grease."

Things You'll Need

  • Leather cleaner
  • 2 soft white cloths
  • Mink oil, or another leather moisturizing/conditioning product
  • Leather filler (optional)
  • Leather scratch repair paste (optional)
  • Sandpaper (optional)

Cleaning

Test the leather cleaner to ensure it will not further damage your item. Spray a small inconspicuous area with the leather cleaner, rub it in with a soft white cloth and leave it to dry. It should dry clear and leave the leather unmarked. If it leaves a mark, purchase another leather cleaner.

Clean your leather item. Spray the leather cleaner onto the damaged areas, and use a soft white cloth to massage it into the leather. You can also use a soft toothbrush to gently clean particularly difficult areas.

Allow the leather to dry completely.

Repairing A Deep Scratch

If there is a particularly deep scratch in your leather, apply a small amount of leather filler to the area using your fingertip. Wipe off any excess with a damp cloth and allow to dry. Repeat until the area is level with the surrounding leather and allow to dry completely, approximately one hour.

Use sandpaper to lightly smooth the repaired area.

Apply a small amount of the leather scratch repair paste using your fingertip to lightly blend the color in with the surrounding leather. The paste should be color-matched to your leather item, although it may take two or three applications to get the exact shade. Make sure you allow the repair paste to dry in between applications.

Allow your leather to dry overnight.

Moisturize and condition

Apply a generous amount of mink oil or other leather moisturizing and conditioning product, using a soft white cloth to rub it into the leather with a gentle circular motion. Pay particular attention to the damaged areas.

Wipe off any excess moisturizing residue with a clean, white cloth.

Allow the leather to dry completely.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look for a leather cleaning kit before purchasing the repair materials separately.
  • Do not use hand creams or lotions on leather, as the mineral oils and waxes they contain can damage the materials. It's best to invest in cleaning and conditioning products specifically formulated for leather maintenance.

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