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How to Repair Patent Leather

Updated February 21, 2017

Seth Boyden perfected the process of creating patent leather in the 19th century. Patent leather is just like regular leather, except it is harder and glossier due to adding varnish or lacquer during the next-to-last steps of tanning. While popularly used for dance shoes, children's shoes, tuxedo shoes, handbags and jackets, the most common problems that occur with patent leather are scuffs and tears. It's relatively simple to fix such imperfections yourself.

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  1. Rub the scuff marks aggressively with a material that will cause a great deal of friction, yet not create new scuff marks. Use a microfiber cloth, terry towel or gum eraser.

  2. Dip a clean cotton ball in rubbing alcohol, if Step 1 is not completely effective. Wipe vigorously against the scuff marks. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.

  3. Apply shoe polish to the scuff marks using a dry cloth. Allow the polish to dry completely. Using clear nail polish, paint on a sheer coat of shine directly on top of the shoe polish. Give it at least 10 minutes to dry.

  4. Find extra patent leather that you can use as a patch. This might be from an old purse, pair of shoes, or a swatch of patent leather at a craft store.

  5. Cut your patch down to size to just cover the hole or tear. Using a razor blade, scrape the edges of the patch down to their thinnest composition, so that when you apply the patch there isn't a ridge.

  6. Apply contact cement to the hole or tear and then press the patch down, fitting it exactly upon the damaged area. Allow it to dry for at least an hour or per the directions on the contact cement. Once dry, gently shine it with a soft, clean cloth.

  7. Tip

    In Section 2, when the cement is drying, consider placing a flat weight on top of the patch to help adhere it. A heavy dictionary would work well.

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Things You'll Need

  • Microfiber cloth, terry towel or gum eraser
  • Cotton ball
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloth
  • Shoe polish
  • Clear nail polish
  • Patent leather patch
  • Scissors
  • Razor blade
  • Contact cement
  • Soft, clean cloth

About the Author

Lane Cummings is originally from New York City. She attended the High School of Performing Arts in dance before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in literature and her Master of Arts in Russian literature at the University of Chicago. She has lived in St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lectured and studied Russian. She began writing professionally in 2004 for the "St. Petersburg Times."

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