Leather is a versatile and durable material, widely used for accessories, clothing, furniture and more. However, just like any other material, leather is also prone to wear and tear. It may fade in color or dry out and crack over time. This is due to lack of proper leather care and environmental influences such as dust, sunlight, oils and rain damage and other things.
Are these signs of wear and tear showing up on your leather? Here are six tips to help with the restoration of leather.
WHY LEATHER CRACKS AND REQUIRES RESTORATION
Before we dive into the proper steps for restoring leather, it's helpful to know why leather deteriorates. Leather, as we mentioned, is animal skin. So think of it this way: What happens to your skin when it is left to excessively dry out? That's right — it can crack. The same goes for genuine leather products. The restoration of leather is basically reversing the drying out process. Properly cleaning and conditioning your leather will restore it and make it last for many years to come.
1. CLEAN LEATHER REGULARLY
Leather restoration starts with cleaning the surface of the leather on a regular basis. We’re often asked how often you should clean leather, and the answer is twofold: Generally, it makes sense to clean frequently used leather items — especially furniture and car seats — at least once a month to remove dirt, dust and oil build up. You’ll also want to clean as needed to remove spills and prevent stains. You can remove any dirt, debris, or surface stains with a leather cleaning product, like Leather Honey Leather Cleaner.
Apply the cleaning product to the surface of the leather using a circular and steady motion, making thin, even strokes. Then, wipe it off with a clean, lint-free towel with the same motion.
If you are restoring a leather item that is exposed to the sun often, we recommend using our newest product: Leather Honey Leather Cleaner with UV Protectant. This is the same non-toxic leather cleaning formula that consumers love, with the added bonus of a UV protectant. Sunlight can speed up the aging process of leather, so it's important to protect your items — think leather car seats, leather jackets, leather couches, anything that gets heaps of sun — as much as possible.
2. REMOVE SCRATCHES FROM LEATHER
Scratches are one of the primary reasons you might decide your leather needs to be restored. Finished leather, which is commonly used in furniture, may become scratched with pet claws, jewelry, and other sharp items. To properly repair your leather couch or restore scratched leather, use a moisturizing leather conditioner like Leather Honey Leather Conditioner to recondition the area, restore lost moisture, and camouflage scratches or marks.
We advise testing in a discreet area first and applying leather conditioner to the entire piece — instead of spot treating — as conditioning can darken some leather. The original color often returns over time, as the conditioner dries, but the scratches should remain repaired and hidden by the leather conditioner.
Read More: How to Remove Scratches From Leather
3. RESTORE CRACKED LEATHER
Many leather owners don’t know how to fix cracked leather, so they often end up getting rid of cracked leather items, like couches and shoes, assuming the damage is beyond repair. While that can sometimes be the case, there are many instances where you can fix cracked leather seats, shoes and sofas, and you can certainly prevent leather from cracking in the first place with care.
The best way to deal with cracks in your leather is to prevent them from happening in the first place. To prevent cracked leather, keep the leather hydrated with a leather conditioner — you should begin conditioning even new leather every six months to make sure you’re maintaining proper hydration. Preventing cracks is much easier than repairing them once they’ve formed.
» Learn how to condition leather
If your leather is showing only minor cracks, like fine lines in the surface of the leather, leather conditioner will restore the finish of the leather and prevent the cracks from worsening. Again, to prevent new cracks and fix existing cracks, be sure to adequately condition the leather every six months. If the leather absorbs the conditioner quickly, that’s a good sign that the leather is very dry and additional conditioner may be needed.
Unfortunately, once cracks are deep and have formed significant groves or separations in the leather, you can’t repair them with a topical product like a leather conditioner. You will likely need to work with a local leather restoration specialist who can help repair the cracks. Patches or fillers are used by professionals to fix deep cracks in the leather’s surface, especially on leather couches, chairs or car seats.
One side note: leather car seats often harden and crack over time, especially if the leather was coated, which is common with some mass car manufacturers and older vehicles. You can’t condition coated leather, as a conditioner won’t penetrate that thick, synthetic coating. But the coating does typically wear off with use, so it’s important to regularly test whether a conditioner can penetrate the leather. Once it can, start conditioning immediately to prevent cracking. Fixing cracked leather car seats is extremely difficult, so protecting them from the start is key.
4. CONDITION YOUR LEATHER
While cleaning leather is a key part of restoring leather, conditioning leather is just as important. Regularly conditioning will help you avoid the restoration of leather in the future. To start leather restoration and conditioning, apply our all-natural leather conditioner to the leather surface in thin coats, using a lint-free cloth. If you'd rather not use a cloth, you can use our Leather Care Wipes, which come pre-made with the proper amount of conditioner. Allow the conditioner to absorb for at least two hours (preferably 24). Once the leather is dry, wipe off any excess conditioner using a clean lint-free cloth.
5. RESTORE FADED LEATHER
The original color of leather may fade over time due to exposure to sunlight or just general everyday use. Leather Honey Leather Conditioner will bring back the lost color. Again, we recommend applying to the entire piece rather than spot treating. If you need to add additional color, leather color balm is available in a wide variety of colors and shades, which match every original color of the leather. You can apply leather color balm or even leather dye after conditioning.
6. RESTORE WATER-DAMAGED LEATHER
Restoring water-damaged leather can be a tough job, but our products can make it manageable. If the leather is soaked in water, the best way to keep it dry is to wipe the water using a dry cloth. Avoid using heat to dry the wet surface as it will only cause further damage. Time is the best remedy, followed by Leather Honey Leather Conditioner. Water damage can leave leather dry and brittle, so you’ll want to restore lost moisture by conditioning. If the water damage has left water marks on the leather, you should clean the leather thoroughly before conditioning.
MORE ABOUT RESTORING LEATHER
Here are some common questions people have about the restoration of leather.
What is the best way to restore dry leather?
The best way to restore dry leather is to clean and condition it. If the conditioner soaks up quickly, that is a sign that you should make another application.
Can you restore damaged leather?
In most cases, you can restore damaged leather. You just have to properly clean it and then condition it.
How do you make leather look new again?
Leather products look "old" because they are dried out. The best way to restore that leather to its "new" look is to clean and condition it. Remember to condition your leather at least once every six months to keep it from drying out.
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