How to Restore Leather Furniture [4 Steps]

Leather furniture can last for over 30 years if maintained properly. Given the cost of genuine leather furniture, isn't it worth it? At some point, you may need to restore your leather to get it back to its brilliant shiny self. You can do this in several ways, and we've researched the most commonly used methods. In this post, we will discuss how to restore your leather furniture so that you can have it looking brand new in no time. 

Here are a few steps that you can take to restore your leather furniture:

  1. Clean the Furniture
  2. Apply Leather Binder
  3. Apply A Colorant
  4. Apply Leather Finish

Finding the right method to restore your leather furniture is essential for a painless restoration process. Once your leather is renewed and restored, you will notice an immediate change in its appearance. Continue reading to learn more about each of these restoration methods.

Small leather sofa with a checkered blanket on it inside a gray living room, How to Restore Leather Furniture [4 Steps]

Steps to Restore Leather Furniture

A woman cleaning a brown leather sofa

1. Clean The Furniture

Prepare the leather by wiping it down with a leather cleaner. If the leather furniture is filthy with lint, debris, or pet hair, you may want to run a handheld vacuum across the sofa first to ensure that these things are removed from its surface before you begin your restoration tasks.

Next, apply a high-quality leather cleaner to your furniture to remove any oils, waxes, or silicones that may be on its surface, as they can cause adhesion issues as you began to apply your binder and colorant. Using a leather cleaner can also help remove any small surface stains on the furniture.

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To apply the cleaner, take an abrasive rag or leather cleaning cloth and apply the cleaner directly to it instead of spraying it on the leather directly. If you are restoring a leather couch, work on the back and sides of the couch first, and then move on to the seating area. If you are restoring a leather chair, start on the back and sides of it as well before working on the seating area.

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The back inside of leather couches don't come under as much stress as the cushions, so it is okay to spend less time prepping them. The seating cushions tend to endure more wear and tear, so it is important to clean them thoroughly. As you rub them down with the leather cleaner, be sure to pay special attention to the center of the couch and the areas around the seams, which are known to crack and peel first. 

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2. Apply Leather Binder 

After you have thoroughly prepped and cleaned your leather furniture, it's now time to apply a leather binder. To do this, you will need a leather applicator sponge, which can be bought online for under $20. Apply the binder to the sponge, wipe the back and sides of the leather furniture first, and then follow up with the seat cushions. 

Depending on your leather's condition, you may need to apply anywhere from three to five coats of the binder. Also, check the drying time for your binder, and be sure to wait for the correct amount of time before applying the next coat. As you apply the binder, use a non-abrasive rag or microfiber cloth to wipe up any excess solution.

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3. Apply A Colorant

After your binder has been applied, it is now time to apply a leather colorant. Shake the colorant bottle for about one to two minutes to ensure that the solution is thoroughly mixed. Next, take one of your sponges and apply a quarter-sized amount of the coloring onto the sponge, rubbing it into the leather. Again, be sure to start on the back and sides if you are restoring a couch or a chair.

Apply pressure to the furniture to ensure that the colorant penetrates the surface of the grain. Follow this up by applying the colorant to the seat cushions. As you work the color into the leather, pay special attention to any crevices, gaps, and hard-to-reach areas. You don't want to miss any spots during this process, as it will show once the leather dries.

Most colorants will dry within a matter of minutes. However, you can speed up this process by simply applying a hairdryer to the furniture. If you prefer a quicker method for applying the color, you can also use a spray gun or airbrush. The trick to effectively spraying on the color is to keep the spray gun's nozzle about 10 to 12 inches away from the furniture and apply thin, even coats. This prevents the colorant from running and makes the finish look much more polished and even. 

4. Apply Leather Finish

The last step in the process is to apply your leather finish to the furniture. The finish can be applied using the same methods as the colorant application. It can be buffed into the furniture using a sponge or sprayed on using a spray gun.

The most important thing to remember when using the spray gun is to keep the spray gun 10 to 12 inches away from the furniture as you spray it, applying thin layers to prevent the solution from running down the furniture. It's best to apply two layers of finish to ensure that it completely coats the furniture. You will notice that the finish will improve the leather's texture and feel after it dries, leaving it softer to the touch.

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How to restore leather furniture naturally

If you are looking for a quicker or an all-natural way to restore your leather furniture, we've got you covered. The good thing is that most of the products used in these methods may already be in your pantry.

Use Lemon Juice and Cornstarch

Using a mixture of lemon juice and cornstarch is a relatively unknown way to restore your leather furniture, but it's definitely effective. To create this paste, combine half a cup of lemon juice with one cup of cornstarch. Work the paste into your leather to remove any protein-based stains such as blood and food.

After the stain has been lifted, use a damp non-abrasive cloth to remove the paste and then buff it dry with a dry cloth. Lastly, you may want to add a bit of oil to the newly cleaned area to restore its moisture.

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Use Olive or Baby Oil

You can also use baby oil or olive oil to remove any surface scratches from your leather furniture. To apply either oil, use a cotton swab or soft cloth to massage the oil into the scratch until it fades away. Let the oil sit for about three to five minutes and gently buff it away using a dry cloth.

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Use Vinegar and Olive Oil

If you are looking for a complete cleaning and conditioning solution for your leather furniture, you've found it. Vinegar works wonderfully to remove stains and restore leather furniture, while olive oil is a great polisher. The best way to use these products together is to combine one part olive oil with two parts white vinegar in a spray bottle and apply it to a clean cloth. Massage the solution into the leather furniture using circular motions. You can use the solution to clean stains or to do a deep cleaning. You may want to keep an extra cloth handy to wipe up any excess oil.

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Use Coconut Oil

You can also revive your leather furniture using coconut oil. Coconut oil works great to buff out surface scratches and to restore luster from fading leather furniture. You can apply coconut oil using a dry cloth by rubbing it into the furniture using circular motions--similar to a shoe polish application. Let the coconut oil sit on the furniture for about 10 minutes, and then buff it out with a new dry cloth.

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How can I make my leather couch shine again?

An old wrinkled leather sofa

There are also a few all-natural solutions that you can use to restore the shine to your leather couches.

Here are a few common ones:

  • White vinegar & olive oil
  • Anhydrous lanolin 
  • Castile soap
  • Neat's foot oil 
  • Coconut oil

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When applying any spray or liquid leather products, always apply the product directly to a sponge or soft cloth and then wipe down the leather. This will prevent splotches and other discolorations. 

Can you restore color to leather furniture?

Yes, leather furniture that has become discolored or has developed wrinkles and scratches can definitely be restored using a few different restoration methods. Common methods to restore leather furniture include applying leather polish, natural oils, binders, and leather colorant.

Can I use Murphy's Oil Soap to clean leather? 

Yes, Murphy's Oil Soap can be used to clean leather furniture and removes surface stains. For general cleaning, you can combine two to three drops of the oil with two cups of water and apply it to the furniture using a soft cloth.

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Is Vasaline good for leather?

Yes, petroleum jelly can help soften up the leather's surface to prevent it from peeling and cracking. 

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Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has introduced you to the numerous ways to restore your leather furniture. The key to maintaining leather is keeping it moist and conditioned and reducing its exposure to direct sunlight.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

7 Good Rug Colors For A Black Leather Couch 

9 Types Of Leather Couches By Leather Type 

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