How To Clean, Maintain and Repair Your Leather Bench

Leather benches look great and offer a comfortable place to sit. However, when the leather starts peeling the look can be unpleasant to the eyes. You need to repair and maintain the bench to avoid irreparable damage. Using proven strategies and household items you can keep your leather bench looking great.

In this article, you will discover how to clean and execute basic repairs. Keep in mind that these repairs require no special tools or expertise. Anyone can complete them fast and it will prolong the life of your furniture. Do you own a bench that’s seen better days? Then read onwards for the tips and hints that will restore the quality and visual aesthetics.  Let’s dive in!

Leather types

Before we can decide how to care for the furniture we need to figure out the leather type it’s manufactured from. There are 2 types you need to know about:

1.   Unprotected leather

This type has a soft and luxurious feel that does not have any surface color pigmentation. In most cases, there is no protective coating, but you may find a dirt-resistant treatment. Unprotected leather feels softer and of higher quality.

However, you need to decide if quality improvement is worth the reduced durability. Unprotected leather stains easily and it can be difficult to remove the stains. Therefore, you’ll need to be extra cautious with this leather type.

2.   Protected leather

Protected leather is the most commonly used version. It can also be called aniline plus, pigmented leather, and semi-aniline. This leather has a uniform visual aesthetic and offers amazing durability.

You will have to complete less maintenance with protected leather without a huge dip in the luxurious feel. Protected leather also feels good to the touch but is stiffer. Therefore, it might not be as soft as you’d like.

How to clean your bench

Cleaning furniture requires no special equipment. In fact, DIY tools can ruin the visuals’ aesthetics if used too aggressively. Therefore, use household cleaning items, and here is a commonly used list: 

  •         Distilled water
  •         Microfiber cloth
  •         Drop cloth
  •         PH-neutral liquid soap
  •         Vacuum cleaner and a brush attach

Can you fix a leather couch that is peeling?

Once the leather starts peeling the visual quality of the bench can deteriorate quickly. You may need to throw away the bench if the damage is unrepairable. However, giving the repair job a shot is a smart idea. 

5 step leather repair process

Step 1: Pull off peeled leather

Start by tearing away bits that are already peeling. It is important to create a smooth and flat surface for the subsequent steps. Peel the leather gently to avoid removing more than is needed. You can use scissors to cut pieces away if tearing is proving to be a hassle.

Step 2: Add leather paint

Paint is required to hide the gaps where the leather is torn. You can buy some at your local hardware store. Choose a color that matches your bench. You may need to contact the manufacturer to get the color code.

Get a brush and apply paint on the part of the bench that is usually hidden from view. It gives you a chance to see how the color looks and if it does a good job. You should apply paint to the affected area but may need to cover the entire furniture piece. It is important to get a finish that offers consistency.

Step 3: Paint must dry

Allow the leather paint to dry for around 30 minutes before moving further. Also, wait 30 minutes if you want to add a second layer. Otherwise, the coats will blend and you will not receive the benefits of the 2 coat approach.

You will see a lot of smearing, which reduces the visual athletics of the paint job. Check to see if it has dried using your finger. Make sure to test on a section of the couch that is usually not visible.

Step 4: Finish with high-gloss paint

Take the extra step of adding a high gloss finish. It will add a sparkle to the bench that makes it look good as new. Leather finishes are not expensive and available at most hardware stores. Furthermore, you do not need to apply a thick coat. Add a single thin coat to complete the job.

Do not use the same brush as you did for the paint job. Also, wait for the second coat of paint to fully dry before adding the high-gloss finish. Using consistent horizontal strokes is a good way to avoid brush lines that can also ruin the look of your bench.

Alternative bench repair option

Instead of using leather paint, you can complete the job using filler. You will need to start by peeling the torn bits as with the previous method. It is an easy method that is quick and inexpensive.

Next, using a putty knife add the leather filler. If you don’t have one then you can purchase it at your local hardware store. They are handy for home DIY jobs so look at it as an investment.

Finally, let the filler cure and add more if required. You may need to practice adding if it is your first time. Also, use plastic wrap to add texture to the leather repair job.

How long should a bench last?

Leather comes in a variety of quality levels, so the durability differs. However, you can expect around 5 to 7 years’ worth of durability. The material starts to crack and peel because it is not designed to stretch. However, the process of sitting on a bench stretches the bench, which over time leads to the peeling effect.

Once you have completed the repair jobs above you can extend the life of your bench by another 2 to 4 years. The durability depends on the repair quality and the ingredients used. For example, the leather paints and oils used for the finish.

Furthermore, you need to look after the bench to increase longevity. In the next section, you will learn about the top maintenance that you can do today to prolong the life of the leather.

Top 5 tips leather maintenance tips

In this section, we will cover a few tips that you should practice to avoid damaging your bench. Damage from stretching is unavoidable but you can practice good maintenance to do your bit.

1. Moisturize the leather

The process of moisturizing the leather smooths the scratches and softens them. Also, it avoids the buildup of creases when the material is being forced to stretch. Also, there is a lower chance of peeling setting in early during the lifespan of your bench.

You need to moisturize regularly – once a week is a good idea. However, it depends on the usage frequency. When applying products to the bench, more can be better. That is because it can get expensive and also offer up nasty side effects. Therefore, concentrate the moisturizer on the parts of the bench where creases naturally occur.

2. Repair immediately

Do not wait for the leather to peel significantly before you start repairing. The peeled leather will propagate the problem and can quickly become a lot worse. It is harder and more expensive to repair leather benches that were not immediately looked at.

You might be tempted to let the problem get worse before it is worth your time attending to the issue. However, you might end up with cracks that are too hard to fix. Professionals might be required when the damage is too severe. 

3. Restrict pets

    Pets like dogs and cats will inevitably scratch your bench. No matter how tough the leather, your pets will make light work of tearing the fabric. Cats are especially a hazard because they might use the bench as a scratching post. It is possible to get tears on day 1 of purchase, which would be disappointing.

    • Thick blanket

    Consider investing in a thick blanket that will cover the entire bench. The blanket will act as a shield to avoid the pet nails digging into the leather. However, this tip depends on your preferences. You may not want to purchase furniture just to cover it with something.

    • Train your pets

    Train your pet from day 1 to not go near the bench. If you allow them on the bench for a few days and then change your mind, then it will confuse them. Have a strict policy of telling your pets off and you will set the right tone.

    • Buy a scratching post

    Cat owners need to have a scratching post in their home for the cat to use. It will give them a way of scratching that itch and not using your bench. However, keep an eye out for your pet around the bench during the first week. Once they get told off a few times, then they will get the idea.  

    4. Bench placement

    Choose a suitable location for your bench to minimize the risk of damage. Leather does not do well against extreme temperatures. Therefore, do not place it near a radiator or air conditioning unit. Close proximity to these units will dry the material, which increases the likelihood of cracks appearing.

    5. Understand your leather

    Some leather types naturally have a rough look. No matter how much maintenance you complete you won’t change the appearance. You will do more harm trying out every leather oil and finish to change the look.

    Best bench cleaning practices

    Cleaning your bench is easy and you should do it regularly to keep it looking new. Frequent maintenance ensures there is no significant buildup of dirt that will be tough to deal with. 

    • Equipment

    Start by organizing your equipment to complete the cleaning process. You will need a cotton swab, rag, bucket, rubbing alcohol, soft cloth, leather cream, water, and soap. These are household items you most likely won’t have to buy.

    Don’t use strong cleaning solutions that can deteriorate or damage the leather material. Keeping it simple ensures the natural leather will stay new and look in its original state.

    • Get rid of dust

    The first step of the cleaning process is to remove the dust. You can remove it by using the rag and water. Don’t use a dry rag because it won’t stick the dirt so easily to the surface. You’ll end up moving it from one part of your bench to the other.

    Using a strong vacuum cleaner is another viable strategy for removing dust effectively. Corners are a likely place where the dirt will accumulate. The amount trapped in your bench depends on the design.

    • Clean with water and alcohol

    Next, remove the build-up of dirt using a clean rag and a fresh batch of water. Scrubbing hard is a good way to discard tough stains. However, avoid causing damage to the leather material in the process.

    Finally, small alcohol doses can be used when stains won’t disappear with water alone. 

    • Dry and apply leather cream

    Once you’ve cleaned the bench make sure to dry it thoroughly. Allow the moisture to escape using a door or window. 

    The final step is to moisturize the bench with leather cream. It’s inexpensive and you don’t need to apply much. A thick coat of cream after each cleaning session is more than enough to keep cracks away.

    Final thoughts

    Leather benches offer a lovely place to relax, read a book or chat with others. They are comfortable and look visually appealing. However, maintenance and cleaning are important to avoid wearing them out. Also, carrying repairs when you notice tears is critical to avoid making the problem worse.  

    The information in this article is to keep your leather bench clean and functional. The quality and functionality of these furniture pieces are of industry-leading quality. They look great alongside most interior decor designs and are very comfy. Get one for yourself to see what all the fuss is about.