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The Ultimate Guide to Leather Scratch Repair

The Ultimate Guide to Leather Scratch Repair

Posted by The Green Tanners on 24th Jun 2024


Many people adore leather accessories such as bags, wallets, belts, and leather jackets. Leather is loved not just for its beauty but also for its durability. When cared for properly, leather can remain attractive for a long time. However, without proper maintenance, it can quickly show signs of wear and tear, especially scratches, which can detract from its appearance.

Scratches on leather are common, but fortunately, there are simple ways to restore leather goods at home. It is important to address scratches and small cracks early on. Left unattended, they can worsen over time and become more challenging to repair. Below, you will find five straightforward methods to help you remove scratches from leather.

Know your Leather

Type You probably know this already, but it is worth researching if not. Different types of leather react differently to chemicals and treatments. Here are some guidelines for each type:

Top Grain Leather

Top-grain and full-grain leather do not react well to strong chemicals. Avoid using harsh chemicals on high-quality leather because they can dry it out and remove its natural moisture, which keeps it soft and durable.

Synthetic Leather

PU and other synthetic leathers do not handle heat well. If exposed to heat during scratch repairs, the plastic in these leathers can shrink and lose its original texture. Avoid using heat-based methods on synthetic leathers.

Other Types

Bonded, genuine, and hybrid leathers can be tricky because their composition varies. To be safe, use milder chemicals and avoid excessive heat when treating these leathers, as they may react unpredictably.

Related: What Are the Key Differences Between Genuine Leather and Synthetic Leather?

Step to Address the Leather Scratches

Clean the Leather

Begin by cleaning the scratched area with a soft, slightly damp cloth. This will remove any dirt that could make the scratch worse. Avoid using strong chemicals or rough clothes, as these can cause additional damage.

Buffing the Leather

Next, gently buff the leather with a soft cloth dipped in leather oil or conditioner. Start from the centre of the scratched area and avoid back-and-forth motion. Keep buffing until the scratch blends in with the surrounding upholstery. This process helps to restore the leather's natural appearance.

After buffing, allow the oil to settle for about 10 minutes. Then, use a dry cloth to remove any excess oil from the surface. This will leave the leather looking refreshed and repaired.

Suggested Reading: Leather Care 101: How to Extend the Lifespan of Leather Goods?

Olive Oil, Vinegar, and Shoe Polish Method

For this method, you will need a leather cleaner, white vinegar, olive oil, colorless shoe polish, and a soft cloth. It can be used on various leather items, such as bags, coats, or couches.

  • Start by cleaning the surface with the leather cleaner.
  • Wipe the scratched spots with a cloth soaked in white vinegar. This makes the scratches swell up.
  • Once the vinegar-treated area is dry, apply colorless shoe polish with a soft cloth. Rub gently until it blends in well. If scratches are still visible, gently circularly apply olive oil with a soft cloth.
  • If needed, apply another layer of shoe polish, depending on the scratch depth and size.

Keep in mind that, in some cases, this method may only partially repair deep scratches, but it is still better than nothing.

Use Vaseline

For minor scratches, you can use Vaseline. Apply it gently with a paper towel or cloth and buff it for optimal results. Vaseline is a versatile solution with many uses, making it great for filling cracks in your leather items.

Use Leather Oil or Conditioner

Another way to remove minor scratches is to use a soft cloth with leather conditioner or oil. Gently rub the affected area in small circular motions, starting from the scratch and working outward to blend with the rest of the surface. This method can also help even out the color slightly by distributing the oil across the scratched area. After polishing, let the leather absorb the conditioner or oil for about 10 minutes. Then, wipe off any excess conditioner or oil with a clean cloth.

Once you have applied the conditioner, allow the leather to dry naturally. Avoid using heat sources as they can distort the leather's shape. Keep in mind that leather tends to darken as it dries, which may make the scratch less noticeable. After the leather is dry, check the results. If the scratch is still visible, you may need to repeat the process or seek professional leather repair service assistance.

Re-Coloring Method

If none of these methods helps, recoloring is a great way to fix scratches. You can get it done by a professional or do it yourself. Here's how:

  • Find a recoloring product that matches the color of your leather. Test it on a hidden spot first to ensure it matches.
  • Buff the scratched area with a soft cloth and a bit of oil.
  • Follow the instructions to apply the recoloring product.

Final Word

The leather care tips provided in this blog are general suggestions. However, it is important to treat your leather according to the product and leather used to manufacture it. Your priority should always be following the manufacturer or professional guidelines for the best repairs.