Leather is a beautiful, natural material that can be used for a variety of purposes. For instance, it’s often used for clothes, bags, shoes, and even in the construction of furniture and automobiles.
It has many benefits, but one downside is that it tends to darken with age. In this article, we’ll discuss 7 easy ways to keep your leather from getting darker so you can enjoy its aesthetic appeal for longer.
You can keep your leather from darkening by;
- Clean The Leather Regularly
- Do Not Over-Conditioning Your Leather
- Avoid Cleaning Your Leather With Harsh Cleaners
- Avoid Over-Exposure To Direct Sunlight
- Avoid Direct Skin Contact On Leather
- Using Distilled Water To Clean Your Leather Items
- Prevent Mold And Mildew Growth On Your Leather
Let’s get into the details of how to keep leather from darkening.
1. By Cleaning The Leather Regularly
One of the simplest ways to keep leather from darkening is by cleaning it regularly.
Usually, leather becoming darker would be a result of dirt or stains clogging the pores of the leather and preventing it from breathing.
Cleaning leather regularly will help to remove any dirt or grime that could be lingering on the surface and keep your leather looking its best for longer.
Doing this does not only remove the dirt or stains causing the leather to darken but also prevents that dirt from building up.
Depending on how often you use your leather items, you can clean them every few weeks or months.
When cleaning leather, you can either use a commercial cleaner or make your own using natural ingredients.
To make your own DIY leather cleaner: mix together one part white vinegar with two parts water or 3 drops of mild dish soap in water.
Soak a clean microfiber cloth in the mixture and wipe down the surface of the leather item. Let it dry completely before using it.
Make sure to use a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser when cleaning your leather – you don’t want to damage it by using harsh chemicals or scrubbing too hard.
Tip: Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning your leather if you go for a commercial leather cleaner.
2. Not Over-Conditioning Your Leather
While conditioning leather can help preserve it and prevent darkening, over-conditioning it can cause the leather to darken.
Leather has to be conditioned every few weeks or months to keep it supple, soft, and nourished. When conditioning your leather items, it is important to only apply a very thin layer of leather conditioner.
But doing this, you apply just about the right amount needed for the leather to be nourished but not too oily or wet.
If you apply too much conditioner, it will sit on the surface of the leather and can cause it to darken over time.
So remember, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to conditioning your leather.
Tip: Test the conditioner on an inconspicuous area of the leather first to see how it reacts. This will help you determine whether or not your leather needs conditioning and if so, what conditioner is best suited for it.
3. Not Cleaning Your Leather With Harsh Chemicals
As mentioned before, it’s important to use a gentle cleanser when cleaning your leather. Harsh chemicals can damage the surface of the leather and cause it to darken over time.
When cleaning your leather, avoid using bleach, ammonia, alcohol-based cleaners, or any other harsh chemicals. These can all potentially damage your leather and make it look darker than before.
Instead, you want to go for a leather cleaner that is pH balanced and specifically meant for leather. This will help clean your leather without damaging it and keep it looking its best.
Also, avoid homemade leather conditioners or cleaners as some of these may also contain harsh chemicals that can darken your leather.
Tip: If you’re not sure whether a product is safe to use on leather, test it on an inconspicuous area before using it all over the surface of the leather.
4. Avoid Over-Exposure To Direct Sunlight
Direct sunlight can damage leather and cause it to darken. Leather is a natural material so when exposed to the elements, especially direct sunlight or heat, it will start to show signs of aging like discoloration or darkening over time.
This is often the case when the leather has just been previously over-conditioned. When leather is saturated with oils or any kind of conditioning agent and the leather is exposed to direct sunlight, this can easily cause the leather to darken.
This is actually one of the common methods for darkening leather items without using dyes or any coloring agent.
So to prevent this from happening, avoid placing your leather items near direct sunlight or heaters especially if they have just been conditioned or oil – as it can cause your leather to instantly darken.
Tip: Leather is a natural material so when you’re storing it for long periods of time without using it, make sure the item is in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight.
5. Avoid Skin To Skin Contact With Your Leather
This is especially important when it comes to leather clothing and furniture. When skin touches leather, the oils and sweat from our skin will start to transfer onto the leather and over time, this can cause the leather to darken.
Sweats contain salt and other minerals that can also deteriorate the surface of the leather over time.
To prevent this, it’s a good idea to keep skin-to-skin contact with your leather to a minimum. If you’re going to wear leather clothing or sit on leather furniture or a car seat, make sure you do not have sweats on your body.
You should also give your leather surfaces a good wipe after contact with your skin to remove any oils or sweat that may have transferred.
This way you avoid any form of body oil build-up or darkening of the leather.
Tip: If sweat happens to get on your leather, clean it off immediately with a slightly damp cloth or sponge. Make sure you are gentle when cleaning as wetting leather can cause water damage if you apply too much moisture.
If you’re going to be in contact with your leather for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to apply a protective coating like a sealant or conditioner before so the leather doesn’t absorb the oils and sweat from your skin.
6. Use Distilled Water To Clean Your Leather Items
This is one of the best ways to keep leather from darkening. Using distilled water when cleaning your leather will help prevent any chemical build-up that might cause your leather to naturally darken over time.
Distilled water has zero chemicals or minerals and it’s a great way to remove dirt. If the water you use happens to contain any rust or metals it can cause the leather to darken over time.
The metals in the water can react with the tanning agent in the leather which can cause it to darken.
In addition, using this type of water will help prevent any chemical reactions that might darken your leather or leave an unpleasant smell behind on the surface of the leather material.
Tip: Wipe off as much dirt and other debris from your leather before cleaning it with distilled water and mild dish soap.
7. Prevent Mold And Mildew Growth On Your Leather
Mold and mildew can grow on leather if it’s not properly taken care of. This is often the result of moisture or humidity.
Mold and mildew will start to form on the surface of the leather and over time, this can cause discoloration and even permanent damage to your leather item.
So to keep your leather from darkening you need to prevent mold growth by keeping the surface of your leather clean and dry.
Storing your leather in a temperature-regulated environment and away from moisture is the best way to prevent mold and mildew growth.
Tip: If you live in a humid environment, it’s a good idea to use a dehumidifier to help regulate the humidity level in your home. Do not place your leather items in an airtight container or bag when not in use.
How To Restore Darkened Leather
If your leather has already darkened, there are ways to restore it back to its original color. However, this will require some work, and depending on the level of damage, it might not be possible to completely restore the leather item.
Using Leather Cleaner And Conditioner Kit
- One way is to use a Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit which can help remove any built-up dirt or oils from the surface of the leather.
- It will also help condition and restore the natural oils to the leather, which can help delay any further darkening from happening.
- All you do is to follow the instructions on the kit and apply it to the leather surface. Let it dry and then buff it off with a clean cloth.
Tip: Make sure you test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire surface of the leather item.
Using A Leather Dye Kit
- Another way is to use a Leather Dye Kit. This will require you to completely strip the leather and dye it back to its original color.
- This will require a great deal of work and expertice to get it done properly.
- You should carefully read the instructions to determine if this is an option you can do on your own.
- Otherwise, you would want to hire a professional leather repair service to restore the color back to its original state.
Embrace The Darkening
Leather is a natural material that will become richer and darker with time. So if you love the patina of leather, you can embrace it and wear your darkening leather with pride.
This will be especially true if you choose to use darker colors like black or brown for your leather items. These colors are known for becoming richer over time as they age naturally.
This essentially means you would have to embrace the fact that your leather will darken over time even if you stick to the best practices of leather care and how to keep them from darkening.
Tip: If you decide to embrace the natural darkening of your leather, make sure to take proper care of it so that it doesn’t become damaged in the process.
Clean and condition it regularly using a Leather Cleaner and Conditioner Kit. And store it in a cool, dry place when not in use.