A DIY Guide on How to Restore Old Leather Furniture

Restoring old leather furniture

One great thing about leather furniture is that it’s quite durable. So, if the furniture in your home is starting to look a little old, don’t throw it out yet and just learn how to restore old leather furniture!

Whether it looks old, has a dirty surface, or has holes or tears on the surface, you can fix it. With the right technique and the proper tools, your leather furniture can look as good as the day you placed it in your home. Restoring old leather furniture is a fairly simple process, albeit a long one. So, you won’t need any real previous experience to execute the process well. If you’re ready to learn how to restore old leather furniture, then keep reading!

How to Store Leather Furniture

Step 1. Clean Your Leather Furniture

The first thing you must do is clean your leather furniture thoroughly. If there’s any wooden surface on your furniture, you may have to restore that as well.For a lot of people, this process should be enough to bring life to the piece. If your furniture doesn’t have any tears or holes, and if its finish is not worn, then all you need to do is clean it. Here’s what you must do.

Vacuum Your Couch to Remove Debris

Use your vacuum to pick up any dust or debris lodged into the crevices fo your couch. For the best results, attach a brush at the end of the vacuum. Next, vacuum the entire surface of the couch or whatever furniture you’re cleaning. Make sure to vacuum in between the crevices as well. Also, try to be gentle with the vacuuming. Applying too much pressure could damage the furniture.

Create a Cleaning Solution

After you’ve vacuumed the furniture thoroughly, you’re going to have to scrub it clean. For that, you’re going to need a cleaning solution of diluted apple cider vinegar. Not only is apple cider vinegar great for your health, but it’s also a great cleaning agent. Pour both apple cider vinegar and water into a bowl. Both liquids should be approximately the same amount.

This solution should be good enough to remove most stains. However, some stains may require an even stronger cleaning solution. Here’s what you should use for the following types of stains.

Baking Soda for Greasy Stains

Sprinkle some baking soda liberally on the greasy stain. Next, you must let it sit for about three to four hours. After that, use a clean cloth to wipe away the stain. Repeat the process if it doesn’t provide the desired result. You can also consider letting the baking soda sit for a longer period in your second attempt. Baking soda works well for this purpose because it does an excellent job of absorbing the grease.

Diluted Rubbing Alcohol for Mold and Mildew

Mix equal quantities of rubbing alcohol and water into a bowl. Follow the same cleaning procedure as you would with the diluted vinegar solution. This solution is effective because rubbing alcohol kills mold. Thus, you can wipe the mold off of your furniture after that.

Cream of Tartar and Lemon Juice for Dark Stains

This cleaning agent is useful when cleaning light-colored leather furniture—white or tan, specifically. Combine equal quantities of cream of tartar and lemon juice in a bowl. This combination should turn the mixture into a paste. Once the paste is ready, rub it onto a dark stain on the leather. Let it sit for about ten minutes. This should be enough time for the mixture to lift the dark stain off of the leather. Thus, it will restore the original light color of the leather. After letting the past sit, use a damp cloth to wipe it off. Also, avoid this cleaning agent on dark-colored leather as it will brighten and ruin the original color.

Use Eucalyptus Oil or Hairspray to Remove Pen Marks

Pour just a bit of eucalyptus oil to a bowl, and dip a cotton swab into the oil. Next, rub the swab directly over the pen mark. This oil should be able to remove ballpoint pen marks without a problem. However, for permanent marker stains, you’ll need aerosol hairspray. Spray it directly on the mark, and use a clean and dry cloth to wipe off the excess. Rubbing alcohol can also help with ink stains. However, whatever cleaning agent you use, make sure to first test on a small portion of the furniture. This way, you’ll know if it’s leaving any marks behind.

Use the Solution to Clean Your Leather Furniture

Now that your solution is ready, you must dip a microfiber cloth in the solution. Wring the cloth so that the excess goes back into the bowl. Use a microfiber cloth instead of any other type of cloth because it will prevent any scratches to the surface of the furniture.

The next step on how to restore old leather furniture is to use the cloth to wipe the surface of the furniture. Cover the entire surface in small circular motions and keep dipping the cloth in the solution every time it dries. Small circular motions will do a better job of pulling the grime or dirt from the fibers of the leather.

Dry Your Leather Furniture

Once you’ve worked through the entire piece of furniture, use a clean towel to dry it off. Make sure that no part of the surface is still wet. Air-drying the leather furniture will leave marks on the piece. So, you’ll have to clean that part again.

Step 2. Repair the Tears and Holes in the Furniture

After your furniture is clean, the next step on how to restore old leather furniture is to repair the tears and holes in it. Here’s how you should tackle different types of damage.

Use Super Glue to Repair Small Tears

Use superglue to repair tears that are smaller than an inch. Pinch the tear together with your fingers. Next, run a line of super glue on the tear. After that, set the glue aside and hold the two parts of the leather together. It should take a minute or two for the glue to dry. You can let go after that.

To conceal the glue, add a bit of leather binder on top of the glue once it sets. Use a sponge or a paper towel to rub it in until it’s hard to see the tear. Instead of that, you can also consider using 220-grit to 320-grit sandpaper to sand down the repaired area. Once that’s done, refinish the affected part for concealment.

Use a Sub-Patch for Large Tears and Holes

You must use a sub-patch for large tears and holes. Use a pair of scissors to cut the sub-patch into a round piece. Also, make sure that you leave about an extra quarter-inch around the edge of the patch. This way, you’ll have material to glue on the inside.

Next, you’re going to need a pair of tweezers to position the sub-patch behind the hole in the leather. Once you’ve positioned it correctly, run your hand over that area to check if there are bumps. If not, you must move onto the next step in our guide on how to restore old leather furniture.

Use a cotton swab to apply fabric glue inside the leather to fix the sub-patch in position. Make sure to apply the glue to the patch as well. Wipe off any excess with a paper towel. After that, line up the two parts of the tear, and use your fingers to close the gap between the two. Next, apply a line of super glue to close the gap completely. That said, you don’t have to do this step if you’re satisfied with how your furniture looks with the sub-patch. In either case, use fine sandpaper to finish the process.

Step 3. Refinish Your Worn Leather Furniture

The final step in our guide on how to restore old leather furniture is to refinish your worn leather furniture. Here are the steps you must follow.

Prepare the Room

To begin, place old newspapers or a drop cloth below and around the piece of furniture. Also, wear disposal gloves before you begin refinishing.

Apply Leather Repair Compound to Your Furniture

Once you’ve prepped the room, use a clean sponge to apply leather repair compound or binder to the furniture. Start from one corner of the piece and move to the rest of it. The binder will help the leather absorb the new finish. Let the first coat dry for about half an hour before you apply the second. Worn leather will require more coats of repair compound.

Apply Leather Colorant

Now, it’s time to apply leather colorant to the surface of your furniture. Make sure the color matches the existing finish exactly. Use a foam applicator or a sponge to apply a small amount of the colorant to the surface of the leather. Like with the repair compound, start in one corner and move the rest of the piece of furniture from there. Make sure the coat is even and that you redo a surface while it’s wet. Let the first coat dry for about half an hour, and then apply a second one.

Finish with Leather Conditioner

Wait for about an hour or two after applying the colorant. After that, use a clean sponge to apply a coat of leather conditioner to the surface. This will ensure that the leather is soft and shiny.


And that was it! Now that you know how to restore old leather furniture, it’s time for you to take it upon yourself to make your furniture look like the day you bought it.

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