Does Aniline Leather Fade? (Here’s An Expert’s Take!)

Does Aniline Leather Fade?

Aniline leather is known for many things – it’s often softer and more supple than many other types of leather, comes in some beautiful colors and finishes, and ages gracefully over time.

But one thing that may be on the minds of many potential buyers or owners is whether or not aniline leather fades. I did the research, and I’m happy to share all my findings with you.

In short, aniline leather does fade over time due to UV exposure and general wear and tear. However, this isn’t necessarily bad – while the color of aniline leather may fade or lighten, it often takes on a patina that makes it even better looking.

In the rest of this article, I will cover the following;

  • Why Does Aniline Leather Fade?
  • How To Prevent Aniline Leather From Fading
  • How To Restore A Faded Aniline Leather

Let’s get into the details of why aniline leather fades, how you can prevent this from happening and how to restore any faded pieces.

Why Does Aniline Leather Fade?

There are a few reasons aniline leather fades, and while the reasons will differ from one leather hide to another, there are a few general things that can cause your aniline leather goods to fade;

1) Prolonged UV Exposure

One of the first reasons aniline leather fades is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.

While the exposure of sunlight to any type of leather can result in fading, aniline leather is especially susceptible to the damaging effects of UV rays due to its lack of protection from a top coat.

This means that all the light, heat, and other elements exposed to the aniline leather can affect it much more quickly than other types of leather.

2) Natural Wear & Tear

Another reason for aniline leather fading is natural wear and tear.

When aniline leather ages, the oils in the hide can begin to evaporate and break down over time, leading to fading of color or a patina forming on the surface.

The dyes used to give aniline leather its color can also break down when exposed to natural elements such as water, heat, or sunlight.

This can lead to the aniline leather fading and losing its original color over time.

3) Cleaning The Aniline Leather Too Frequently

The wrong cleaning techniques can also lead to fading of aniline leather. Cleaning your aniline leather goods too frequently can strip away the natural oils and dyes, leading to fading.

As I mentioned, aniline leather is made of essential oils and dyes that keep the leather soft and supple.

If you clean the leather too often, these essential oils and dyes can be stripped away, leaving it looking duller than before.

On average, you want to clean your aniline leather goods about once to three times a year, depending on how often the item is used.

Meaning for aniline leather goods that get used very often, such as a leather sofa, you will want to clean it more often than items that get used less frequently.

4) Using The Wrong Cleaning Products

While you’re at it, it is important you also use the right cleaning products when cleaning your aniline leather goods.

Using the wrong cleaning product or one that is too harsh can lead to fading and discoloration of the aniline leather.

I recommend only using cleaners specifically designed for aniline leather, as these are less likely to strip away the oils and dyes in the leather.

Now that we know why aniline leather fades let’s look at how to prevent this from happening.

5) Body Oils

Aniline leather can also lose its color from contact with body oils. Body oils can transfer onto the leather when it is touched, which can lead to fading or discoloration of the aniline leather over time.

Body oil accumulation on leather is very common as it builds up in the pores of the leather around areas where our skin has direct contact with the leather, such as armrests, headrests, etc.

This is defined by the area turning dark and feeling oily and, in some cases, a lightening of the leather’s original color.

How To Prevent Aniline Leather From Fading

There are many ways aniline leather can fade, but these tips will definitely help to slow or prevent the fading from happening and keep your leather item looking its best;

1. Keep Leather Away from Direct Sunlight

Not to sound like captain obvious (I know you’re already imagining your leather sitting in the dark corner of a room), but it’s important to keep your aniline leather away from direct sunlight.

This means that if your furniture, bags, or shoes are going to be exposed to light or heat, make sure they are not in a spot that will receive direct sunlight for hours at a time.

2. Condition Regularly

Regular conditioning of your aniline leather item will help to protect it from fading and keep it looking its best.

Make sure to use a pH-balanced conditioner designed specifically for aniline leather in order to prevent any staining or fading.

3. Protect Leather From Water Damage

Like any other type of leather, aniline leather is susceptible to water damage, leading to fading and discoloration.

If you’re expecting a lot of rain or your furniture is going to be exposed to moisture, it’s important to use a water-repellent spray to protect it.

This will help to repel any moisture or liquid that may come into contact with the leather, preventing staining and fading.

Better still, avoid contact with water if possible.

4. Clean With The Right Products

As discussed above, using the wrong cleaning products can strip away oils and dyes in aniline leather and cause it to fade.

Therefore, make sure you use the right cleaning products specifically designed for aniline leather when cleaning your goods.

5. Use UV-Protection Spray

You can also use a UV-protection spray to protect your aniline leather item from fading.

These sprays will help protect the leather from UV rays, reducing the fading from prolonged exposure to sunlight.

How To Restore Faded Aniline Leather

Although restoring faded aniline leather can seem intimidating, with the right techniques and products, it’s possible to bring back the lost color and shine.

1. Clean Or Degrease The Leather

The first step in restoring faded aniline leather is to degrease or clean the item using the proper cleaning products.

If your aniline leather good has faded from body oil or other types of grease, use a degreaser specifically designed for aniline leather.

To degrease leather, apply a small amount of the degreaser to a soft cloth and gently rub it into the leather in circular motions.

Otherwise, clean your aniline leather with your regular leather cleaner.

2. Apply An Aniline Leather Dye

Once you’ve cleaned the item, it’s time to apply an aniline leather dye. The goal here is to restore the original color of the item as closely as possible.

Use a high-quality aniline leather dye that is specifically designed for the item you are restoring, and apply the dye with a soft brush or sponge in light, even strokes.

Make sure to allow each application to dry before applying the next coat.

3. Finish With A Leather Conditioner

Once you’ve applied the dye and allowed it to dry, finish off with a leather conditioner or balm specifically designed for aniline leather.

This will help to restore the natural oils of the item and add a protective layer that will help to prevent fading in the future.

By following these steps, you should be able to easily restore the original color and shine of your aniline leather goods.

Finish Thoughts

Aniline leather is a beautiful and luxurious material that can add sophistication to any home, bag, or shoe. However, it can fade quickly when exposed to light and heat for too long.

Fortunately, with the right care and maintenance, you can ensure that your aniline leather goods look their best for years to come.

Regular conditioning, protection from water damage, and cleaning with the right products are all key to preventing fading.

Additionally, applying UV-protection spray can help protect your aniline leather items from fading due to sunlight.

In the event that your aniline leather item has already faded, it is possible to restore the color and shine with aniline leather dye, a degreaser, and a leather conditioner.

So if you’re looking for beautiful and long-lasting leather goods that will stand the test of time, be sure to choose aniline leather!


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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