Soften Up That Old Dried Leather
April 11, 2023
Jane Smith, Managing Director
Soften Up That Old Dried Leather
When leather is made in a tannery, the leather pelts are given enough softness by adding in fatliquors, these leather fatliquors are introduced into the leather skins whilst the hides are being tanned.
If you don’t care for your leather correctly and keep it conditioned or if you’re not feeding the leather if its open pore skin then this can become dried out and cracked.
Over time if you don’t have a regular routine to care for your leather it can become dried out. This is typical in classic cars over the years they become dried out, particularly convertible roof cars, these can become dried out with the open roof down and direct sunlight on the leather seats drying out the leather and, in some cases, distorting the leather skins.
Once the fatliquors have evaporated from the leather hide this is when the skins dry out, they begin to get brittle, cracks and tears start to appear when you sit on your leather seat, and they are flexed with movement.
Heat plays a major role in your leather skins condition, keeping items near heat sources will cause your skins moisture levels to drop and dry out, keeping them near open fires or radiators will cause drying out of the leather.
Keeping your leathern protected with conditioners is important for the life of the leather to last and be expanded, this will help keep the leather soft and supple, helps to retain the natural leather oils and softness.
Using a specialist leather massage roller on a regular basis will help to keep your leather looking sharp and always revived.
Other things that can cause leather to dry out and crack are steam cleaning leather, using the wrong cleaning solutions like APC’s (all-purpose cleaner) using silicone-based balsams, using high speed brushes attached to drills again can cause drying out as they are taking off the surface the clearcoat lacquer that’s protecting the surface of the leather skin this accelerates drying out of the leather.
Leather that has become wet at some point will dry out again, but in most cases when it dries out it changing the chemical make up of the hide from when it was tanned, as it dries out it will suck out with it all the natural fatliquors causing the skin to go hard and the leather to become stiff. This can also be caused with wet steam cleaning, yes steam cleaning the leather may make it look great, but the damage its doing is staggering, over time you have speeded up that drying out process of your leather item.
1: The first stage is to deep clean the leather surface. This will help in the softening process of the leather. For the Leather Softening Crème to work, you need to make sure the leather is fully deep cleaned, free of dirt, grease, grime, silicones and waxes, it may be worth lightly vacuuming off the leather to remove small particles of dirt, but this is best done before any cleaning process is started. You’re advised to use the LRC1 Leather Cleaner on pigmented leather, LRC7 on aniline leather, LRC2 luxury leather cleaner on nappa leather for professional results.
2: Leather Repair Company produces an outstanding Softening Crème with natural Oils. The purpose of this is to aid in the restoration process of old worn dried out and cracked leather, the leather surface would be prepped if you are carrying out a colour restoration, the surface leather paint would be partially removed to allow the leather skin to be absorbent. This can be used as a standalone product if you wish without the need to carry out a restoration process as it’s designed with a professional result in mind to soften old, dry leather and can be used just to do that without any further restoration required.
3: You can either apply the Softening Crème to a sponge, allow this to be massaged in or apply directly to the leather and massage in with your hands to ensure it perfectly penetrates every single time. A specialist massage roller can be used to aid in the softening of dried worn old leather. During this process it’s very important that you massage this leather Softening Crème in as much as possible moving / flexing the leather to ensure it gets deep down into the dried-out leather pores and cracks. This will give a professional result every time making sure it’s covered perfectly.
4: If you wanted, for serious cracking on extremely rare objects you can apply an additional generous coating of the Softening crème and allow this to sit on the surface to penetrate over a period of time, where leather is extremely dry, its best to massage in by hand, then fully wrap your leather in cling film or shrink wrap, this can be left for a few days to soak into the leather skin. Once removed apply an additional liberal coating and wrap once again, keep repeating this process until the leather is soft and supple again.
5: Once you’re happy that the leather has been softened sufficiently if you are not restoring the leather and the leather paint has not been removed, you can use a damp cloth with leather cleaner and wipe over the surface. If you don’t want to remove any products to carry out a restoration process then you can just simply apply the Leather Protection Cream over the top of this, softening the leather even further with this process. If you are restoring the leather, wipe with a damp cloth with alcohol cleaner to remove any excess softening crème that’s not soaked into the leather hide.
Keeping leather moisturised is the best policy, feed the leather on a regular basis, use the items as often as you can if items like leather jackets, don’t speed up drying leather jacket or leather handbag if you get caught in a rainstorm. Only use natural leather cleaners and natural leather protection creams, using the leather softening crème often will help keep the leather soft and to help put some life back into your leather item. Use a leather massage roller on your car seats often this helps to put softness back into the seats.
This video shows how to soften dried out cracked leather seats in a classic car Riley Pathfinder Restoration.