Old wives’ tales to repair leather furniture

There are dozens and dozens of old wives’ tales on different household products that can be used to clean and repair leather.  Heed my advice – don’t use any of the following products on your leather furniture!  I’ve seen countless pieces of furniture ruined by these very things and wouldn’t want you to find yourself in the same predicament.

1. Olive oil: Lots of people use olive oil to moisten and condition their leather from time to time.  It is also used to hide blemishes and dings on couches and chairs.  While oil might make your couch look nice right this minute, you are really doing irreparable damage to your furniture.  The oil will soak into the back side of the leather, eventually filling it up and causing ugly oil spots.  Also, while some older leathers required some sort of moisture, leather today is tanned to hold in all of the moisture it needs.  If you have a piece of leather that you want oiled because you want it to be soft regardless of how it looks (think baseball gloves), then oil may be OK.  But, it is never advised on any type of high end or furniture leather.

2. Shoe polish: There are several types of furniture leather, and all of those types are very different from the type of leather used in shoes.  Because of leather furniture’s different finishes, it will never mix well with shoe polish.  The polish will just make a gunky mess on your furniture.

3. Beeswax: I’ve seen people try to use beeswax to water-proof leather.  This can be a good option for leather work boots, but I do not recommend that you use it on leather furniture.  It can make the leather stiff and waxy to the touch.

4. Hair spray: According to many a wives’ tale, hair spray can be used to fix just about anything from runs in stockings to stains in cotton to marks on leather.  Don’t use it on your leather furniture.  It probably won’t help the stain, it might have alcohol in it (which damages the surface of leather) and it will leave a sticky mess on your furniture.  The sticky spot will attract dirt and oils, causing further damage to the spot.

5. Markers: People try to use markers to fill in spots on their leather furniture.  As the marker will not match your couch exactly, I do not recommend it.

6. Window cleaner: Most people think of window cleaner as being one of the mildest of all cleaners.  While it may be mild enough for most household chores, you should never use it on your leather furniture.  It contains alcohol that will damage the surface of your leather, leaving it more susceptible to damage.

7. Finger nail polish remover: People use this to try to remove stains from leather, but it will also remove the dye, leaving your leather with a bleached looking spot all around the spot you were originally trying to clean.

8. Disposable cleaning supplies and wipes: Most of these contain alcohol, and you should never use alcohol on leather.  It will break down the protective surface on your leather.

Good Rule of Thumb

Don’t ever use alcohol or acetone products on leather furniture.  These two things are very commonly found in household cleaning products and will do long term damage to your leather, breaking down its surface and stripping its color.


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