How to Repair Scratches on Leather Furniture

Once you notice a scratch on your favorite leather chair, it may be the first thing your eyes are drawn to every time you walk past the chair. Instead of hiding a severe scratch under a pillow or throw blanket, repair it with a tintable liquid leather repair solution. Along with removing the mark, the repair liquid also mends the leather, making it strong once again -- otherwise the scratch may eventually result in a tear. Test any scratch treatment in an inconspicuous area first to make sure it blends well with the existing leather color.

Beagle Attacking Pug
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If pets are allowed on your leather furniture, protect the seat from scratches with a throw or blanket.

Cleaning the Leather

Cleaning the leather is a must before you begin scratch repair. The cleaning process allows you to determine the extent of the damage while revealing the true color of the leather, allowing for an accurate color match with the repair solution. Mix a squirt of dish soap into a bowl of warm water, and then dip an absorbent white cloth into the water, wringing out most of the moisture. Wipe the leather down with the cloth, and wipe it dry with a second white cloth. If the area looks grimy, wipe the dirt away with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.

Minor Scratch Solution

For scratches that are so minor they're more of a visual annoyance than anything else, you may not need a leather repair kit. Fingernail scratches, for instance, may cause a slight mark without truly damaging the leather. If you have aniline leather, aim a low-temperature hair dryer over the leather to warm it up, rubbing the surface with your hand after it's warmed. Sometimes this is enough to shift the color to correct minor scuffs and scratches. For other types of leather, apply a dab of white vinegar over the scratches to swell up the leather fibers. Then rub a clear shoe polish over the area once the leather dries. Use a soft white cloth to apply the shoe polish -- dyed cloth may transfer color over to the leather. You can also use a dedicated leather-hydration cream in place of the vinegar and shoe polish. Shoe polish in the same shade of the leather may be used to repair a minor scuff in an area you won't normally touch, such as the back or side of a leather sofa. Rub it in with a soft white cloth.

Severe Scratch Preparation

Scratches so deep they have lifted some of the leather fibers require a bit of maintenance before you make the repair. Trim stray fibers with small scissors, otherwise the fibers will stick up through the repair, making it obvious. If the scratch created a minor tear as well, cut out a piece of iron-on patch or a fabric scrap and tuck it into the hole. For an iron-on, place the patch sticky-side up. Align either the patch or fabric with a toothpick so it's centered beneath the tear, extending at least 1/8 inch beyond all edges. The fabric patch under the rip provides extra support for the repair compound.

Mixing and Applying the Repair Liquid

A leather repair kit comes to the rescue when simply hydrating or masking the scratch won't do. Mix the repair treatment with tints included with the kit until the color resembles the damaged leather. Apply the tinted repair solution over the scratch, extending slightly beyond the damage in all directions. A small spatula included with the kit allows you to manipulate the solution into a somewhat thin layer. Place the leather grain paper from the kit grain-side down over the wet substance, and then iron the paper with a low or medium heat setting. Place a brown paper bag over the grain paper if the repair area is small, to prevent the hot iron from directly touching the leather. Iron for 15 seconds or so, or as directed on the repair kit instructions. After a minute or two, peel the cooled grain paper from the repaired area.