One of most people’s first investments when they move into a new place or their first home is a couch. If you buy a leather couch, you may find that in a few years, it will get faded and might incur damage. My problem came when I had no idea how to fix my leather couch discoloration, and I had to contact professionals to find out what I could do.
If you are fixing your leather couch, the first step is determining what type of leather your couch is made of. Match a dye kit with the color of your couch. Dust it and clean the surface with a microfiber cloth. Then clean the stains and dry off the couch. Now you retouch the leather couch color.
Fixing a leather couch can be intimidating for most people, but there are a few ways for you to fix your leather couch. I took it on as a DIY job, and I was pleased with how it turned out. I thought I would share what I researched and my experience during this project in this article.
How to Fix Leather Couch Discoloration
After a few years of owning a leather couch, you will notice the leather will fade and get damaged; no matter how well you maintain it, time will take its toll on the leather. The color will fade, and the texture will soften, crease, or crack.
When you take on fixing the discoloration as a DIY project, you also have the opportunity of fixing minor nicks, scratches, and cracks in the leather. Here are the steps to fixing the discoloration of your couch.
The Materials You Will Need Before You Begin
There are certain materials and products that you need to get before you begin restoring the color of your leather couch:
- A vacuum cleaner with upholstery attachments.
- A cleaning solution you can use on leather.
- A container or bucket to mix the solution in.
- A leather dye kit.
- A leather repair kit.
- Three dry and clean microfiber cloths.
- Leather conditioner.
- Tarp or old blanket to lay down under the couch.
- One thin and one medium-sized paintbrush.
- Elastic gloves to protect your hands.
- Old clothes to wear so you don’t stain your clothes.
Preparing the Leather Couch
Before restoring the color on the couch, it will need to be cleaned the right way and patched if required. Here is how you do that:
The first step is finding out what kind of leather your couch is made of. Some of the common types of leather couches and other furniture is made of include:
- Top-grain leather is polished to look more smooth than some other rougher leather.
- Full-grain leather is kept more natural and doesn’t undergo extensive processing, so it will keep the feel and look of animal hide.
- Bonded leather is made by rolling and pressing off cut and scrap leather pieces together to bind them.
- Split grain leather is very similar to full-grain leather but feels harder, and it needs more maintenance to keep it in good shape.
- Bi-cast leather is a cost-effective alternative to split-grain leather. Bi-cast leather is coated in a top coat of polyurethane. Manufacturers coat bi-cast in this solution to give it the expensive look of top-grain leather.
- Nubuck leather is made from rawhide and is much more challenging to maintain. The manufacturers need to waterproof the leather to protect it from the wear and tear of everyday use.
- Faux leather is a budget-friendly alternative to genuine leather for those who want the look of leather but not the price tag. It’s not leather but an artificial alternative and needs regular maintenance to keep it from cracking and peeling.
Secondly, you should remove all items from the couch and vacuum it thoroughly, remember to get into all the nooks and crannies. Lay down the blanket or tarp to protect the floor from the dye. Next, you need to use the upholstery attachment and run the vacuum over the couch again.
Next, you should use a microfiber cloth and a leather-safe cleaning solution or warm water to clean the surface debris from the leather couch. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t soak the microfiber cloth in the cleaning solution; it should be damp.
Wiping down the couch’s surface will clean up any dust that might have settled back after vacuuming.
Next, you must deep clean all the stubborn stains that are not wiping easily. There are a few tough stains that aren’t easy to remove and need special attention. Before using any cleaning material on your couch, test it on an unseen spot of the couch to ensure the product won’t damage the couch’s surface.
Here is how to remove them before continuing to the next step:
Cleaning Food and Blood Stains
Food stains or blood stains are removed by mixing one part lemon juice and two parts cornstarch into a paste and rubbing it into the stain with a microfiber cloth. By mixing these two household ingredients, you can make a paste that will remove food and blood stains but be gentle enough not to damage the leather.
Cleaning Oily or Greasy Stains
You can use baking soda or another absorbent powder to lift the grease and oil stains. Pour the powder liberally on the stains and leave it to absorb the grease and oil for at least a few hours. You should dust off as much of the powder as you can with a dry microfiber cloth. After that, you can use step three again to clean up the now oily powder.
Cleaning Ink Stains
If your leather couch has ink stains, you can use a cotton swab or q-tip and rubbing alcohol to remove it. Move-in small circles to get the stain to lift. When you see the swab has ink on it, you need to swap it for another one, so you don’t spread the ink around.
You need to buff the surface of the leather dry to ensure there are no streaks left after the stain removal process. Use a fresh microfiber cloth for this step. Use circular motions all over the couch until it is dry.
Next, you should look for any cuts or places where the leather has been damaged. If the damage is only deep scratches, you can slightly wet the crease of the scratch; if the leather darkens, the leather is absorbent, and you need to adjust the amount of dye to ensure even application. The more dye gets absorbed, the less you need as it will color quicker.
If there is more extensive damage, you need to take the leather repair kit and follow the instructions carefully to fix those problem areas. You need to leave it to dry and cure completely.
Now you need to get the dye ready to retouch the color of the leather couch. Follow the instructions that come with the dye kit to mix or prepare the dye. Taking some dye on the thin paintbrush, apply the dye to the seams and piping of the couch.
Take some dye on the sponge applicator that comes with the dye kit and start at one end of the couch, wiping the sponge from top to bottom in sections over the surface in even strokes. Use even pressure to get a thin layer of dye on the couch (you don’t want to push too hard as the dye will pool around the sponge, and your leather couch will look like it has stains.)
Be careful not to overlap the sections, or you will have streaks of dye on your couch. Using the medium paintbrush, very lightly covered in dye, coat the cracks, crevices, and corners to ensure you apply an even first layer of dye.
You can add around six thin layers of dye to the leather couch to get a more vibrant and deep color. When you are satisfied with how the couch looks, you should leave your leather couch to dry thoroughly for around 48h.
Remember to leave your leather couch to dry for 15 minutes between each coat of dye so it won’t get muddled and streaky.
After letting the leather couch dry thoroughly, you need to recondition it. It will help protect the new repaired and restored color. Use a clean sponge to apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to the couch’s surface.
Start in the corner and work in small circular motions to get the best results. Buff and polish the leather with the conditioner and let it dry for at least three hours. You may find a leather conditioner in the leather repair kit or buy it separately.
Tips for When Fixing the Discoloration of Your Leather Couch
Restoring the color to your leather couch might feel like a huge undertaking, but below are a few steps you can take to make the process much easier and help keep the leather couch in good condition for years:
- If you are not sure about choosing the right color to match your leather couch, you can ask an expert in upholstery for advice. They will help you choose the right color to match your couch or the best replacement color if they don’t have the right color.
- You can use throw blankets or sofa covers to reduce the everyday wear and tear, and it helps keep dog hair and other damaging debris from scuffing up the restored leather.
- Put sofa covers over the leather couch on hot summer days to help reduce the discoloration and help the restored color last longer before the next touch-up.
- It’s essential not to use regular polish on leather couches. It will damage the leather, and the build-up might cause the leather to become stiff, discolored, and sticky when there is hot weather.
- Do not use harsh chemicals to try and remove stubborn stains; the chemicals can damage the leather and cause fading, bleached spots, cracks, and tears in the leather.
- If you want to keep your couch’s shine without using polish, buff it regularly. It will keep the shine without the use of harsh chemicals or the use of unnecessary products.
- Clean spills up immediately but don’t rush it. Use the right product for the job, or it might further damage the leather; research how to clean the stain or call an expert for advice.
- Ensure you know the type of leather your couch is made from, as different types of leather will have different care needs, and you need to be sure you don’t use the wrong products on your couch.
- If your couch is not too faded, you may only need to recondition the leather. If you are new to restoring the color of a leather couch, then you can use some conditioner on a small section of the couch, and if the color is restored, you won’t need to dye it.
- Remember to put down a blanket or tarp to keep the dye and conditioner from staining and messing up your floor.
- Remember to always clean the couch before touching up the leather color and condition. Failure to do so will impact the finished look of your couch.
- Vacuum your leather couch thoroughly at least once a week. You can also use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down to ensure you get all the surface debris off of the couch.
- Apply a leather care protection cream every 3 to 4 months to ensure you keep the leather couch in good condition. It keeps the couch soft and supple without damaging the color or texture.
When you see your prized leather couch looking a little worse for the wear, you might want to refresh your leather couch’s color and condition. You can repair the nicks and scratches with a leather repair kit and restore the color of your leather couch.
It will take around 48h to dry completely. You can deepen the color by adding up to 6 thin layers of dye to the leather couch and making it look almost new.
I have two Associate’s degrees, one in Medical Assisting and the other in Computer Technician, and I am roughly five classes from a bachelor’s degree. Though I never ended up working in the medical field, I have five and a half years of experience in IT. I recently became a stay-at-home mom to my two young boys, and I’m so excited to start this adventure with them! In my spare time, I love to bake and read pretty much anything I can get my hands on.