The age-old problem with leather as a material is all the peeling and flakes that you usually have to deal with.
The fact is that real high-quality leather never peels. But as you will see in this article, leather is used as a broad term in order to fool the masses by retailers and manufacturers. Bonded leather and faux leather, which are sometimes included in the umbrella term of leather, are the ones who are usually the culprits behind peeling.
Nevertheless, let’s jump back to the original question.
How to prevent leather from peeling?
There are a few different things that you can try in order to prevent your leather item from peeling.
Buy quality leather in the first place
The best thing you can do for your peace of mind, and for your return on investment, is to simply buy a quality leather item in the first place.
Although leather may be pretty pricey at first, over time it proves to be more cost-effective than faux leather or bonded leather. This happens because of the longevity of leather as a material.
If you buy a faux leather jacket, you cannot expect the garment to last longer than 2-3 years. On the other hand, a real leather jacket will cost you thrice as much but would last you a lifetime. So the cost per wear value comes down significantly in this case.
Avoid direct sunlight on the item
Sunlight is a major reason for the peeling, cracking, creasing, and general wear and tear a leather garment goes through.
So if you want your leather pieces to last longer and not peel, store them in shady areas that are well protected from direct sunlight. Leather shoes (which are obviously made from bonded leather or faux leather) are especially susceptible to damage in direct sunlight.
A closet is therefore the best place to store your leather pieces. It is cold and dry, and probably quite safe from the trials and tribulations of the sun god.
Use good quality leather conditioners
Now that the sunlight issue is taken care of, the next step in preventing the peeling of leather items is simply taking good care of them. And using a decent leather conditioner is probably the first step in that procedure.
Leather conditioners are used to make sure that a leather garment such as a jacket or a pair of shoes remains as soft and well-hydrated as possible. Although leather conditioner is generally used for real leather only; in my experience, I have found it to be a great tool for faux leather and bonded leather as well.
Just take a dab of this conditioner and rub it all over your leather piece. You need to do this every couple of months in order to prevent peeling. If you don’t know which leather conditioner to buy, here’s my favorite on Amazon. It is quite cheap and gets the job done.
Clean your leather items every couple of weeks
Adding on to the previous point, your job is not going to be completed just by applying leather conditioner to your shoes or jackets every few months. Regular cleaning is absolutely a necessity to prevent faux leather from peeling.
So how regular should this cleaning be and how should you be doing it?
Nothing out of the world. Just clean your leather pieces every couple of weeks by wiping them with a damp cloth. Make sure that the cloth is not dripping wet, as we do not want to inflict discoloration or water damage on the leather.
But the good thing about bonded leather is that it is usually water-resistant, so you do not have to obsess over the dampness of the cloth. Whether the item is a leather jacket or a pair of leather shoes or something even more exotic, just wipe it properly and make sure that you cover all the nooks and crannies.
What causes leather to peel?
Good quality real leather never peels. Peeling only occurs in bonded leather or faux leather, and it is caused by dryness and overexposure to the sun.
If you do not take care of your real leather garments, that is, you never condition them and pay zero attention to storage, even real leather items may start to peel off.
Peeling in faux leather usually occurs within 3 years, even if dryness is combated with a leather conditioner and the garment is out of direct sunlight. This happens because bonded leather is usually of inferior quality compared to real leather.
Leather is a broad term, and bonded leather or faux leather are also considered to be leathers, even though they are not made from animal skin and are instead made from cheap polyester. Despite this fact, retailers advertise them as being “genuine leather”, and thus many consumers buy these products thinking that they would be getting all the benefits of real leather.
Can peeling leather be repaired?
No, peeling leather cannot be repaired or restored back to its original state. But it can be camouflaged so that the peeling leather actually does not show until closer inspection.
Despite what you may read on the internet, there is no way for you to actually make a faux leather garment or shoe go back to its original, non-peeling state. I have tried every method these so-called experts preach, but none of them did anything for the piece. In fact, many methods were downright harmful.
However, there are a few methods that would make it look like there is no peeling. For this to work, you would need to use some surface leather dye in a similar color that will stick to the faux leather.
For example, if you have a brown bonded leather shoe and the leather upper (Do not know what is a leather upper? Check out this article) starts peeling, use a brown leather dye (I prefer this one), and rub it all over the shoe. Leave it for some time and hopefully, most of the peeling would be camouflaged.
How to stop leather car seats from peeling?
- Always have a cover on your car seats as to not subject them to extreme heat damage.
- Give the seats a thorough cleaning every few months with a quality leather cleaner that is specially made for cars.
- Apart from that, regularly clean the car seats so that they don’t dry up or start cracking.
- Be quick with repairs if you do spot some peeling, and don’t put off going to a car repair shop.
Although going through this article may bring you to the conclusion that I hate faux leather and that it should be banished from the face of the planet, this is not the truth.
I think the question of choosing which type of leather you need is a question of nuance, and every one of us is going to have a different answer to that question which is completely okay.
Also, something that I do not mention in this article is faux suede and all the issues related to it, because I have done a separate post all about faux suede.
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.