The estimated time does not include passive drying time and can vary depending on which fix fits your needs.
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What you'll need:
Leather restoration kit
Note: The materials list includes items for all of the repair types, so be sure to read on and choose your method before heading to the store.
Caring for leather furniture is crucial to ensure longevity, but accidents happen. Leather, unfortunately, is susceptible to scratches from our animal housemates and from general wear and tear. Before giving up on your favorite leather sofa, try out some simple DIY fixes that should only take you an afternoon.
4 Ways to Remove Scratches From Leather Couches
Each leather couch is different, so each piece will require unique procedures to clean and maintain. Before getting started, you’ll want to read the manufacturer’s instructions or tag to check out any specific care instructions.
These guides will be your best bet, but whether you can’t read an old tag or want some fairly universal methods to try, read on for some ways to fix scratches on your leather couch.
Gently Buff the Leather
If your scratches are fairly light, try a quick buff using a leather oil or conditioner. There are different oils for differing leather types, so figure out what type you’re working with and shop around. These products cost between $10 to $30.
Once you have that on hand, follow these steps:
Dab a clean microfiber cloth in a bit of the leather oil and rub a tiny bit on the scratch or scratches.
Wait 10 minutes or so to allow the solution to sink into the leather.
Use the same microfiber cloth or a dedicated buffing pad and begin gently buffing the impacted spots, starting at the center of the damaged area.
Work slowly and gently and move in circular motions, working your way out toward the edges.
Continue buffing until the scratch disappears. Buff away any excess oil or conditioner with another clean, dry cloth.
Use a Recoloring Solution
If your leather scratches run a bit deeper, or if buffing them produces inadequate results, try a recoloring solution to hide the imperfections. You may find the exact color to match your leather couch by contacting the original manufacturer. If not, go with a similar color at the hardware store or from an online marketplace. Recoloring balms cost, on average, $30.
Start by testing the color in an inconspicuous part of the couch to ensure a proper match. If it looks weird, try a shade brighter or darker. Some balms sell as color-matching kits that include several different shades for the purpose of mixing to find the perfect match.
Once you find the right color, clean the impacted area with a simple leather cleaner. This opens up the pores, allowing the balm to do its job.
Next, apply the balm to a clean microfiber cloth, though some balms ship with dedicated applicators. If so, use that.
Gently rub the balm on the impacted area in a circular motion.
Take a clean, dry cloth and gently buff the area, removing excess balm as you go.
Repeat if necessary, but wait 24 hours to allow the initial application to dry.
Opt for a Dedicated Leather Restoration Kit
Photo: Kilito Chan / Getty Images
Deep scratches require more than recoloring balms and buffing oils: That’s where leather restoration kits come in. These all-in-one kits include products to strengthen and reinforce the leather, a solution to raise the scratch flush with the undamaged leather, and a coloring solution for the final step.
Leather restoration kits cost anywhere from $20 to $100, with some more expensive outliers for antique pieces of furniture.
The most important thing here is just following the manufacturer’s instructions, as each kit features different solutions and application methods.
The leather strengthening solution typically requires a clean cloth for application.
The filler, which raises the scratch for easy access, demands a full day to dry and move on to the next step.
Many kits include sandpaper for buffing out the scratch once it raises flush with the rest of the couch.
As for the recoloring step, which is the final one, follow the above instructions for using a recoloring balm.
DIY Fixing Leather Couch Scratches vs. Hiring a Pro
If you are not sure what kind of leather your couch is made of and the type of care and maintenance it needs, contact a local furniture repair pro for a consultation. At the very least, they’ll take a look at your couch and let you know the leather type and the proper method for removing the scratch. They can also use their years of expertise to quickly and efficiently get your couch looking as scratch-free as the day it rolled off the assembly line.
Additional Questions About Fixing Scratches on Leather
How do you prevent future scratches?
Now that your leather couch is back to its old self, use these steps to maintain it.
Keep claw-happy animals off of the couch. Purchase them a dedicated bed near the couch so they can still have plenty of quality time with you.
Cover the leather couch with a protective barrier of some kind, usually a waterproof slipcover.
Keep the couch away from direct sunlight and heat sources like radiators and air vents. Excess heat and light dry out leather, increasing susceptibility to scratches.
Vacuum the leather couch with a soft-bristle attachment every week to eliminate abrasive dust, which is a common cause of small, annoying scratches.
Purchase a leather conditioner and apply it every six months. This keeps the leather hydrated and soft, which allows it to fight off potential scratches.
Can the manufacturer help with repair tips?
If you recently purchased your leather furniture item and you have the manufacturer’s contact information, give them a ring. Each furniture item is different, with differing recommendations regarding scratch repair.
This step is an absolute must if your item is still covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty. Even if the warranty is expired, some companies send out free or discounted repair kits to help.