6 Reasons Why Bonded Leather Peels Plus How To Prevent It

why does bonded leather peel

Bonded leather is a material that is often confused with real leather. While real leather under normal circumstances wouldn’t peel, bonded leather inevitably will. So in this article, I’m very excited to share with you my findings on a research I did on why bonded leather peels.

So why does bonded leather peels? Here are 6 main reasons why bonded leather will peel.

  1. Bonded Leather Will Peel Due To Its Structure
  2. Bonded Leather Will Peel When It’s Stretched
  3. Body Oils Can Cause Bonded Leather To Peel
  4. Dirt & Grit Causes Flakes & Peels On Bonded Leather
  5. Using Harsh Chemicals
  6. Direct Sunlight Can Cause Bonded Leather To Peel

If you came for a quick and brief answer then there you go! But if you want to learn more details about why bonded leather peels, keep reading this article.

1. Bonded Leather Will Peel Due To Its Structure

One of the primary reasons why bonded leather will peel is due to how it’s structured.

Bonded leather is essentially scrap pieces of recycled leather that are bonded together with a strong adhesive and then usually finished with a coat of synthetic substances like Polyurethane (PU).

With such a structure, bonded leather is like a time bomb ready to go off. Due to this structure, a lot of things could go wrong and cause bonded the leather to peel even with the smallest amount of pressure, use, or wear.

First of all, the bonded scrap pieces of leather will eventually weaken and fall apart.

Secondly, the fact that natural leather shavings are attached to an unnatural material like PU is definitely one cause of alarm.

This is definitely not going to be a permanent bond no matter how good and solid bonded leather looks from the beginning.

This simply means these two materials, that is, PU and leather shavings will not hold up for a very long time no matter what.

All in all, the structure of bonded leather does not allow it to have the most solid surface. It’s just a matter of time before the bond keeping the entire structure of the bonded leather together fails.  


There’s almost nothing you can do to the structure of bonded leather itself to help prevent it from peeling.

But what you can do is to make repairs as timely and as soon as possible. This can help to keep the structure of the bonded leather intact without getting worse.

2. Bonded Leather Will Peel When It’s Stretched

Another weakness of bonded leather that contributes to it peeling is how non-elastic bonded leather as a material is.

The non-elastic quality of bonded leather means it has the tendency to crack and peel once it gets to its stretching limit from constant pressure being put on it during its use.

A piece of a bonded leather material will essentially be made up of a length of very small leather scraps meshed together over a polyurethane coating. This as stated before will not help to create a very solid surface.

So what’s going to happen is that with continuous use, the strips of the polyurethane will start to peel away from the leather shavings or scrap backing causing the heartbreaking and unsightly peeling. 


If you have children or pets, they are the ones who may put a lot of stress on the bonded leather item – causing it to peel on not time.

What you might want to do is to reserve bonded leather goods such as furniture as special guest seats – Obviously, this is not going to work if you always have a lot of guests coming in and out of your home. 😀

If it’s a bonded leather item such as jackets, shoes, etc, you would want to limit your usage of such goods to only special occasions.

Gentle use and a lot of care can make bonded leather items to possibly last as long as 2-3 years without having any issues.

3. Body Oils Can Cause Bonded Leather To Peel

Body perspirations such as oils, as good as it is for our skin are will not be friendly especially on both real leather and bonded leather.

The worse part is body perspirations and oils will easily get on anything we come into contact with.

So it’s no surprice body oils and perspirations from our skin and palm will be one of the main causes of bonded leather goods peeling.

The reason why our body oils and perspirations are bad for bonded leather or any other kind of leather is that they are made up of fatty acids, salts, and enzymes that can alter the pH level of any form of natural leather.

Remember, it’s still natural leather shavings that are used for bonded leather and our body oils can still cause serious distractions to it even though it’s combined with polyurethane (PU).

Anytime our body sweats touch bonded leather, especially from the inside, it starts a chemical reaction that is absolutely not very friendly to the leather shavings on the underside of the bonded leather.

Thus, the sweat builds up within the leather fibers of the bonded leather causing it to weaken over time.

The same kind of harm can be done even on the polyurethane finish on the bonded leather. Body perspirations and oils can build up on the surface of the bonded leather and cause it to weaken with time.

When this build up on bonded leather is allowed for quite some time, the adhesion on the bonded leather will be compromised and it will end up peeling.


There are several ways to protect your bonded leather from body oil. The prevention methods you would want to try out are the ones that create a barrier between the bonded leather item and the oils from your body.

One of the effective prevention methods would be to use specially formulated protectors meant for synthetic surfaces like vinyl, Polyurethane (PU), or Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) leather.

A good example is the TriNova Leatherette Protector. You can find this product via the link on Amazon!

You can also try leather cases, throw on some towels or rags (in the case of furniture and car seats), and simply avoiding using your bonded leather when you’re covered in sweat.

4. Dirt & Grit Causes Flakes & Peels On Bonded Leather

Leather generally as a material can become very dirty because leather is a hardwearing material.

Dirt build up is not leather-friendly. That’s why cleaning leather items on a regular basis is such an important thing to do.

Unlike 100% real leather that can to a large extent withstand a lot of dirt and grit, bonded leather will perform poorly against the dirt and grit it takes up if not timely cleaned.

Essentially, the dirt and grit bonded leather takes on can cause serious abrasion on the surface of the bonded leather causing the bonded leather to scratch and peel.

This can in the end shorten the lifespan of your bonded leather items.


From time to time you would want to use a soft clean cloth dampened with water to wipe the surface of the bonded leather item.

You can do this as frequently as possible as ordinary water will not abrade or affect the polyurethane finish on the surface of the leather.

Another thing you can do is to apply leather protectors on the surface of your bonded leather items whenever you clean your items.

5. Using Harsh Chemicals

Most people do not know when they are using “Harsh chemicals” on their leather articles so let me clarify.

These harsh chemicals will usually come in the form of low quality leather cleaners, conditioners, and protectors.

Usually, these types of product will come with pH levels that’s either too alkaline or acidic in which case either of these pH levels can harm your leather.

This doesn’t only apply to only ready-made products but also using the wrong cleaners like detergents for your bonded leather can also cause it to peel.


It’s obviously a no brainer – use the right cleaners, conditioners, and protectors for your leather goods.

To take away the guesswork as to what brands are good to go for, look out for the well known brands like Leather Honey, CarGuys, TriNova.

If you want to DIY-clean or condition your bonded leather items make sure to use fewer chemical-based substances and go for all-natural ingredients.

For example, you can mix equal parts of white vinegar and Lemon oil, flaxseed oil, or any natural oil. Then you simply dip a lint-free cloth into the solution, wring it out, and then gently begin to wipe the surface of the bonded leather item.

This is one of the safest ways to clean bonded leather at home without abrading it.

6. Direct Sunlight Can Cause Bonded Leather To Peel

Direct sunlight is an arch-enemy of leather. Even for an all-natural leather item, the direct sunlight can cause it to fade, dry up, and crack.

This is why we never leave leather in direct sunlight to dry. The same thing can be said for bonded leather.

When bonded leather items are placed or left outdoors at the mercy of direct sunlight, it can lead to the leather not only peeling but also deteriorating rapidly.


Let me state the obvious by saying as far as preventing bonded leather from peeling goes (when it comes to direct sunlight), you would want to ensure good and proper placement for your goods.

For example, you don’t want to position your bonded leather furniture close to a window with direct sunlight.

Don’t also put bonded leather items in a place where there is direct sunlight to dry. You always want to air-dry your bonded leather items.

General Bonded Leather Care Tips To Prevent Peeling

  • Make sure to regularly dust all crevices and seams on the bonded leather item with a soft brush.
  • Wipe down bonded leather items with clean water-damp cloth.
  • After cleaning, dry the leather with a dry cloth and only air dry if necessary. Never use a hair dryer.
  • Never use soap or harsh cleaners, bleach, soap, or detergents for your bonded leather items as they can destroy the Polyurethane (PU) finish.
  • Condition bonded leather items regularly.
  • Before using any product on the entire surface of the leather, test it out on an inconspicuous part of the bonded leather article.
  • When your bonded leather begins to peel get a leather filler and fix it asap.
  • Clean spills and stains as soon as they occur. You would want to simply blot spills and stains from food, drinks, and other liquids with a soft damp cloth or a lint-free rag.


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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