How to Repair Scuffed and Scratched Leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Leather shoes and furniture will scuff and scratch over time owing to general wear and tear. But, you can give the fabric a new lease of life by performing some simple at-home repairs to scuffs and scratches. To get the best results use leather-friendly products that are designed to fix scuffs. It is possible to fix smaller problem areas by polishing them away.

Determine what kind of leather you are going to repair to make sure you use the right products. Find the tag on a leather couch to figure this out, or look at the car upholstery labels. The code is: A for Aniline leather, P for Secured leather, and N for Nubuck leather.

Perform basic cleaning techniques first. Squirt a microfiber cloth with some mild detergent, then generate soap suds by adding water. Make the cloth damp, but squeeze out excess water.

Wipe over the leather surface with the cloth. This is a basic technique to remove non-severe marks but not for heavy scratches. If needed, it is also good practice to wash the leather surface for preparing it to be treated more thoroughly.

Wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol. Then, rub the leather surface with small, firm circular motions to remove scuffs. Use another dry cloth to buff the surface dry and get rid of excess liquid.

Fix Aniline leather with wax. Firstly, use a hairdryer to heat up the surface to be repaired. Then, use a cloth to rub the area with wax. This restores shine, and removes superficial scuff marks.

Remove scuffs from P, or safeguarded, leather with a simple leather polish, then apply acrylic lacquer to the surface. Use a rag to buff the surface with polish, then spray the lacquer onto the area for repair.

Trim back excess leather surrounding a deep scratch using scissors. This is to prepare it for painting. Since it is already clean, just check that the area is dry by touching it with your hand.

Sand down excess leather fibres with 400-grit wet and dry sandpaper. This removes smaller fibres or bits of material that would otherwise be visible once the scratch has been painted over.

Spray the leather with leather topcoat paint. Scratches can be removed this way, because the colour is restored to the leather where the scratch has caused it to discolour.


Get an exact colour match for your leather by sending a sample of material to a paint company. They will be able to manufacture the exact colour for your needs.


Use only light sprays of acrylic lacquer when fixing safeguarded leather. Spray one layer, then leave it to dry before adding another. But only do this two or three times, as it could worsen the problem.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Water
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab
  • Hairdryer
  • Cloth
  • Leather Wax
  • Rag
  • Leather Polish
  • Leather topcoat spray
  • Scissors
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic lacquer spray
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About the Author

Based in Bristol, Philippa Jones has been a music journalist and script writer since 2007, working across a range of radio programs in the U.K. and Australia. Her articles have appeared in "Impact Magazine," "The Mic" and in local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from the University of Nottingham.