How to Repair Aniline Leather

Pure aniline leather is colour dyed without any finishing pigments added. This leather retains its natural scars and blemishes, and the colour fades when exposed to direct sunlight. Since protected aniline leather is finished with pigments and topped with a durable clear coat, blemishes are hidden and the material is fade resistant. However, despite its durability and low-maintenance characteristics, protected aniline leather can pick up scratches and tears --- especially if you have pets or small children. Fortunately, you can repair tears and bleach surface scratches.

Condition your aniline leather furniture by cleaning periodically with saddle soap applied with a damp cloth. Go over the furniture section by section using a circular motion and enough water to create a light lather. Wipe the lather off with a clean, dry cloth and allow time to dry. The natural oils in saddle soap will blend in tiny scratches and make most of them disappear.

Cover scratches that are still visible after cleaning by first removing saddle soap residue with rubbing alcohol and a soft cloth. After the leather dries, apply colour matching cream leather polish to the scratches with a toothpick. Buff the surface briskly with a soft cloth before the polish dries. Keep buffing until you achieve a high gloss. Repeat until the scratches are fully blended.

Stick flaps of leather made by cat's claws --- or other types of tears --- back into place with the flexible adhesive supplied in a leather repair kit. Dip a toothpick into the compound, lift the flap with the side of a darning needle and apply a thin layer of adhesive to both surfaces. Allow about 30 seconds for the adhesive to become tacky while holding the flap open with the needle. Use the side of another darning needle to roll the flap back into place. Smooth down with an alcohol pad provided in the kit.

Allow 30 minutes for the adhesive to cure. Remove any ragged edges by rubbing the surface lightly with a piece of 600-grade emery paper. Apply a thin layer of matching cream leather polish to the visible edges of the repair and buff to a high gloss. Repeat until the tear is no longer visible.

Fill bare hollow indentations with thin progressive layers of flexible repair compound supplied in the kit. Overlap the edges by 1/2 inch on all sides. Dip your finger in water and blend in the surface as smoothly as you can. Finish with one of the alcohol pads supplied, but do not overwork enough to make the surface drag. Allow 10 minutes drying time between coats. Continue applying layers of repair compound until the damaged area is level with the surface. Leave overnight for the compound to cure.

Fold a pad of 600-grit emery paper. Rub the area lightly. Refold the pad and use a fresh layer as soon as the abrasive surface becomes clogged. Keep going until the area is perfectly smooth.

Blend pigment into the flexible colour finish supplied in the kit until you have a perfect match. Lift a cushion and apply a little blended mix to the surface as you progress. Since the finish lightens slightly as it dries, allow the test area to dry completely before settling on your final match.

Dip the foam applicator supplied with the kit into the blended solution. Wipe the applicator once smoothly over the repair area. Ignore any streaks left as the surface dries. Wait 15 minutes. Smooth the surface down with 600-grit emery paper. Remove surface dust with a microfiber cloth before applying the next coat. Apply progressive coats and smooth down until you have a perfect colour match and the repair is no longer visible.

Apply the final coat of flexible colour finish with the fine mist sprayer provided in the kit. Allow any tiny droplets left on the surface to flatten by themselves. Let the piece stand for 24 hours before using it.


Wear latex gloves while using a leather repair kit.

Things You'll Need

  • Saddle soap
  • Cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cream leather polish
  • Toothpick
  • Leather repair kit
  • Darning needles
  • 600-grade emery paper
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Latex gloves
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About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.