7 Ways Sunlight Affects Leather (Tips On Prevention & Fix)

Sunlight affects leather in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll explore the effects that sunlight has on your favorite leather items.

So, does sunlight affect leather? Here are 7 common ways sunlight affects leather items;

  1. Sunlight Can Discolor Leather Itmes
  2. Leather Can Dry Out And Crack In Sunlight
  3. Sunshine Speeds Up Aging Of Leather
  4. Sunlight Rays Can Cause Leather To Shrink
  5. Sunlight Causes Leather To Lose Its Finishing
  6. Leather May Get Brittle In Sunlight
  7. Sun Can Cause Permanent Stains On Leather

Keep reading the article to learn the details on how to prevent these things from happening, and how to fix them if they do occur.

1. Sunlight Can Discolor Leather

When leather is exposed to the sun, it can discolor. This means that your favorite pair of leather boots might become more faded or lighter in color over time if they are frequently left out on sunny days.

As well as lightening the shade of tan leather, exposure to sunlight will make dark brown and black items stain faster than ever before.

Not only does leather fade in sunlight but it can also darken in some cases especially if the leather item has just been conditioned or oiled.

This means that when you apply leather conditioner on your leather items and you leave it in the sun for it to dry the newly oiled or conditioned leather can significantly darken.

Freshly conditioned or oil leather shouldn’t be left in the sun to dry because it can cause the leather to darken or have serious discolorations over time.

2. Leather Can Dry Out And Crack In Sunlight

Another way the sunlight affects leather is that it can dry it out and make it crack. If your favorite leather purse or leather jacket has been sitting in the sun for a while, you will start to dry out and in no time you will begin to notice some cracks in the leather.

This happens because leather is a highly porous material and the sun’s harsh rays are only going to cause the moisture and essential oils in the leather to evaporate leaving the leather dehydrated, stiff, and prone to cracking.

Leather is a natural material that needs its natural essential oils or moisture to keep it looking and feeling good.

When leather becomes dry, the fibers in the material will start to separate and this will cause unsightly cracks in the surface of the leather.

Over time, if these leather items are not given some TLC, they might eventually fall apart – and that will be hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the drain.

3. Sunshine Speeds Up Aging Of Leather

Sunlight also greatly accelerates the aging process of leather. If you’ve ever left a pair of leather shoes outside for a long time, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

The sun’s UV rays will rapidly break down the natural fibers in the leather, leading to an overall aging effect.

This means that your favorite leather bag might start to look old and tired after a few days or weeks of being exposed to direct sunlight.

This means that the more exposure to sunlight your leather items have, the faster the fibers in the leather will break down and this will cause your favorite leather jackets, wallets, or shoes to age prematurely.

So, if you want to keep your leather bag looking new for as long as possible it is best not to leave them out on a sunny day because over time the sun’s harsh rays can break down the leather material of your items which can lead to an aging effect.

Of course, if your intention is to age your leather items then you know leaving them at the mercy of the sun’s rays is a good way to speed up the aging process.

So, if you want your leather jacket or shoes to look old and distressed then be sure to leave them outside for as long as possible

4. Sunlight Rays Can Cause Leather To Shrink

I find it weird that sunlight can cause leather to shrink, I would have assumed that it made the leather stretch due to the heat.

Leather is a natural material and as such, it is susceptible to the elements – including the sun’s rays.

One of the ways that sunlight affects leather is by causing it to shrink. This means that if your favorite leather jacket or pair of shoes has been sitting in direct sunlight for an extended period of time, you will start noticing that the leather is becoming noticeably smaller.

This happens because as the leather fibers become exposed to the sun’s UV rays, they will start to shrink and this can cause some parts of the leather item to become tighter while other areas might loosen up.

Similarly, if you’re looking for a way to slightly shrink your favorite leather jacket or shoes, then leaving them outside for a few hours and letting the sun’s UV rays do their damage is one of the best ways to achieve this.

However, you should know that if your leather item has been exposed to sunlight over an extended period of time will lose its original shape as well as some or all of its natural texture – which is another reason why you should avoid leaving leather items outside for too long.

5. Sunlight Causes Leather To Lose Its Finishing

Sunlight will not only fade leather items, but it can also cause them to lose their finishing.

Leather as a natural material is susceptible to the elements and this includes sunlight among other things.

This is why most leather items are finished with a protective coating which will not only preserve the leather but also protect it from further damage.

This means that if you have a favorite pair of shoes, jacket, or purse and they are finished with some kind of coat – whether this is wax, varnish, or paint finish then exposure to sunlight can cause this finishing to fade away quickly over time.

This will leave your leather goods unprotected and more susceptible to further damage, including fading and staining.

So, if you want to make sure that your leather items last as long as possible then it is best not to expose them to sunlight for extended periods of time.

6. Leather May Get Brittle In Sunlight

Another thing that you should be aware of is the fact that leather can get brittle in sunlight.

As mentioned before leather consists of natural fibers that make it flexible and soft. Those natural fibers also contain essential oils that keep them lubricated giving the leather its luxurious supple feel.

But when leather is exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time, one of the things that can happen is that the natural oils within the leather will start to evaporate and this can cause it to become brittle.

When this happens the leather becomes very uncomfortable to wear or use due to the fact that it is stiff and inflexible.

So, if you want to keep your leather items in perfect condition for as long as possible then the best thing you can do is avoid exposing them to direct sunlight over an extended period of time.

7. Sun Can Cause Permanent Stains On Leather

The sun’s UV rays are very powerful and can be overbearing on leather and other natural materials.

This is why you should never expose your leather goods to direct sunlight for extended periods of time as one of the things that might happen is permanent staining caused by UV rays.

UV rays can cause all kinds of stains, some are barely noticeable while others are completely impossible to remove – even if you have used professional cleaning products.

Sunlights can also make salt stains worse and rust stains worse by catalyzing their development and permanence on the leather.

So, if you want to keep your leather items looking as good as new for as long as possible then the best thing you can do is avoid exposing them to direct sunlight.

How Do You Protect Your Leather Items From Sunglight

There are a few things that you can do in order to help preserve your leather belongings from the damaging effects of sunlight.

Do ‘NOT’ Leave Your Leather On The Sun To Dry

Usually, our first instinct when our leather items get wet is to leave them out in the sun to dry.

This is a big mistake as the sun’s heat and UV rays will only cause the leather to fade, dry out, and crack over time.

The best way to dry wet leather items is by using a towel and gently dabbing at it until it’s mostly dry and then leaving it to air dry over time.

Be Mindful of Where You Store Your Leather Items

One of the first things you can do to avoid exposing your leather items to direct sunlight is to store them in a place where they won’t get exposed to them.

As a general rule of thumb, the darker and cooler the storage space – such as a closet or cabinet, the better it is for the leather item.

This is the perfect storing solution if you have a lot of leather items in your wardrobe.

Limit The Use Of Your Leather Items In Direct Sunlight

Another thing you can do is to limit the amount of time your leather item spends in direct sunlight.

If you have to go outside on a sunny day, make sure not to do so consistently or too often.

You may want to get other materials or different leather items so that you can rotate and have a variety of different items to wear or use in the sun.

Use A Leather Protector For Your Leather Items

If you really want to protect your leather items from the harmful rays of the sun, then using a leather protector is the best way to do so.

The leather protector will act as a sunscreen for your leather items and will help protect them from the damaging effects of sunlight.

If you apply a protector to your leather goods, make sure it’s one that is designed for use on natural materials as these types of products tend to be less aggressive than those intended specifically for synthetic or petroleum-based fabrics.

There are many different brands and types of leather protectors that you can choose from and they range in price.

When applying a protector to your leather goods, follow the product’s instructions for application and take care not to get any onto areas where it might cause stains or damage such as suede leather surfaces.

Clean And Condition Your Leather Items Regularly

Another way to help preserve your leather items is by cleaning and conditioning them regularly.

Cleaning your leather will help remove any dirt or stains that the sun rays could make worse.

Conditioning your leather will help keep it hydrated and flexible, which will make it less likely to crack or become stiff in direct sunlight.

You can buy commercial leather cleaning and conditioning products or you could use a natural homemade recipe.

Whichever route you choose, be sure to follow the product’s instructions for use to avoid any negative consequences.

Final Thoughts

Sunlight can have a powerful and detrimental effect on leather and other natural materials.

However, by being mindful of where you store your leather items, limiting the amount of time they spend in direct sunlight, using a leather protector, cleaning and conditioning them regularly; you can help preserve their condition and appearance.

I hope this article has been helpful on how sunlight affects leather and the best ways to protect your leather items from the sun’s harmful rays. Thank you for reading! 🙂

Macwilliam K. Appianing

Hi! I’m Macwilliam, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leatherwork 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!

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