What Are The Most Common Causes Of Leather Damage?

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Leather Damage?

April 11, 2023

Jane Smith, Managing Director

Leather has been known as one of the most versatile, rugged and dependable materials since the very earliest civilisations, where people found a way to make already useful and protective animal hides into highly durable clothing, tools and bags.

As a result, leather has been seen as a rugged, dependable, highly flexible material that due to its history of being associated with cowboys, motorcycle riders and pilots has also become a very popular material in fashion.

Many, if not most people, have some form of leather item in their wardrobe, in their home or on their feet for a reason, after all.

However, whilst leather is a very strong material, it is not invincible, and some rather innocuous events can cause it to fade and crack, requiring leather repair to restore it to its former glory.

Here are some of the most common causes of leather damage.


The Sun

Sunlight and leather do not mix, and are the most common cause of two of the most frustrating problems with old leather; fading and cracking.

The reason for this is the same reason our skin dries when exposed to the light and heat from the sun; it dries out, wrinkles, cracks and peels off as a result of a critical loss of moisture.

Sunlight is most often blamed for this because sun damaging leather is well known, but most direct heat sources can cause the same problem, so if a leather sofa is placed too close to a heat vent or a radiator it will cause the same levels of cracking and damage.


Spills And Stains

There is an assumption that leather is completely waterproof and water-resistant; this is a belief that often lasts up until the point they are caught in a rainstorm wearing leather and notice that their coat seems to have doubled in weight.

In many historical battles involving the Ancient Greeks and Romans, boiling oil, water and even sand was used in a lot of battles, most notably the Siege of Tyre primarily because a lot of armour was made of leather and the oil could still find a way through.

Water, alcoholic drinks and greasy stains can cause a lot of long-term problems for your leather because it will sink in and ruin it. Build-ups of perspiration and body oil can eventually cause the same issue.

However, as long as you clean the stain immediately, it will not remain an issue for very long.


Using The Wrong Cleaning Product

Leather requires cleaning products that are specifically made for it, primarily because like our skin, leather’s strength, smoothness and winning look come from the oils found within its surface.

Most detergents, cleaning sprays and soaps are designed either for use with dry fibres or hard surfaces to eliminate grease and oily stains. These same cleaning materials can do a lot of damage to a leather object, causing cracks and breaks that can ruin it.

Most of the time, a dry cloth, lukewarm water and a towel is all that is needed to clean leather, although a leather cleaner can help bring its sheen back if it is looking faded.


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