How to Restore Old Leather

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How to Restore Old Leather

Restoring old leather saves money as it negates the need for hiring the services of a professional. Old or vintage leather, after restoration, looks fabulous, as each piece has unique patinas and striations that develop with age. Vintage pieces are very popular and fashionable as they hearken back to an earlier era. However, old leather often has cracks, scratches, and stains, along with mildew spots and other signs of neglect. Although this may seem daunting, it is actually reasonably simple to restore old leather with any or all of these problems. Successful restoration returns the leather to its original condition and appearance.

Cleaning Old Leather

Cleaning aged leather is one of the most effective restoration methods. Cleaning removes debris that gathers on the surface and brings back the natural sheen. To begin, vacuum the leather gently using a soft brush attachment. Do not use too much pressure or the leather may scratch. Make a mixture of one part white vinegar and two parts linseed oil and wipe it over the whole surface. Use a soft cotton or microfibre cloth to avoid scratching the leather and only use a white or natural coloured cloth or the colour may run into the leather. Leave the solution overnight, allowing it to pull out the dirt and grime. In the morning, use a soft dry cloth and buff the leather. This removes the solution and dirt buildup and restores the natural sheen.

Leather is absorbent and stains easily and many old leather items have stains embedded in the surface. Different stains require different methods of removal for the best results.

Type of Stain

Items Required

Ink Stains



Vinegar and water


Ammonia and water

Chewing Gum

Ice cubes

Super Glue



Rubbing alcohol and water

Newspaper Print


Leather picks up stains over time. However careful users are with their leather, wiping up spills immediately, and performing regular cleaning and maintenance, stains do occur from time to time. Old leather often has multiple stains from a variety of sources. Knowing what supplies to use for different stains allows consumers to effectively restore old leather to its original condition with ease.

Conditioning Old Leather

Conditioning old leather directly after cleaning or after stripping away surface sealant provides the best result. Conditioner acts as a moisturiser, penetrating down into the leather fibres. It strengthens and swells the fibres, replenishing lost moisture. Once the leather is completely clean and stripped of grime and sealants, take a soft damp cloth and apply leather conditioner. Apply the cloth with conditioner to the leather and massage it in using circular motions. Leave the conditioner for around an hour, allowing it to penetrate fully, then add a second coat.

Repairing Scratches in Old Leather

Leather is prone to developing scratches, whether from everyday use or animal claws. For very light scratches that do not break the surface of the leather, consumers can simply apply leather recolouring balm to the scratched area and allow it to dry. This renders light scratches invisible.

Repairing More Extensive Scratches on Old Leather

On furniture with extensive scratches or deep scratches, more intensive restoration is necessary. Clean the leather before beginning the task of repairing the damage. Take a pair of small, sharp, craft scissors and trim loose fibres, but do not pull fibres or puncture the leather with the scissors. Apply leather binder all over the damaged area using a small amount on a soft sponge. Allow this layer to dry completely then add a second layer. Continue building up a total of ten layers of leather binder for a durable, long lasting repair, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next. Use fine grain sandpaper to lightly sand the damaged area to create a smooth surface. Wipe the sanded area with a lightly dampened cloth.

Use a palette knife and add a thin layer of leather filler, covering the damage. Allow this to dry for at least 30 minutes. Examine the result. If the surface is still uneven or scratches are still visible, add additional coats. Once dry, sand the area again using fine grain sandpaper to get a smooth, even area. Wipe the area down with an alcohol-based cleaner to remove any residue. Apply a small amount of leather colourant to a soft, clean sponge. Rub the colourant over the leather and allow it to dry. For the best results, use an airbrush to gradually build up thin layers of colourant, allowing each coat to dry before adding the next. Consumers can also use a sponge to build up colourant layers instead of an airbrush. Once the final layer is dry, apply a coat of lacquer and allow it to dry. Then add an initial thin coat of sealant. Once dry add an additional three to four layers of sealant to provide an attractive, durable finish.

How to Buy Leather and Leather Restoration Products on eBay

You can find everything you need to restore old leather from reputable


sellers at very competitive prices. From old leather items, including furniture and clothing, to leather binder and sealant, all are readily available and easy to find with a quick search from any eBay page. Check out the home and garden section of

eBay Deals

to make great savings. Purchasing old or vintage leather and restoring it yourself is an excellent way of saving money and procuring a high quality piece of vintage furniture. Use simple restoration techniques and restore old leather to its former glory. Work slowly and carefully and make sure you complete each step thoroughly before moving on to the next.

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