Why Does Leather Feel Sticky? (Plus How to Get Rid of it)

why does leather feel sticky

Everyone appreciates the rich feel and look of leather but nobody appreciates leather becoming sticky whether wallets or purses to luggage and everything in between.

There are a variety of reasons why leather becomes sticky and in this article, I research these reasons, and here are all found.

So, why does leather feel sticky? There are several factors that cause the leather to become sticky, clammy, or tacky but the key reasons are:

  • Spills on Leather Item
  • UV Damage to the leather
  • Over-Conditioning the Leather
  • Body Oils getting Transferred to the leather item

Leather is indeed a semi-living object that breathes and age with times. During its lifetime, leather will carry forth everything it comes into contact with, be it oils, scents, and a whole bunch of other substances through its pores.

If proper care is not given to the leather, it will grow weak, dry, crack, or in most instances become sticky.

Details on Why Leather Feels Sticky

1. Spills on Leather

I’m sure this was your most obvious guess so let’s get it out of the way. This is particularly common with households that have kids and pets.

Spills from liquid substances such as coffee, milk, or soda can cause your leather items to become sticky.

When these liquids are spilled and not wiped or not wiped properly, what happens is, the liquid evaporates and leaves behind the uncomfortable sticky residue on the leather.

The residue left behind can cause both natural leather-made items and that of synthetic leather items sticky if the right action is not taken shortly after the spill happens.

Remedy To Spills on Leather

To every problem, there’s mostly an ideal solution and in the case of tackling spills on leather to avoid it from becoming sticky or clammy, the solution is pretty much easy.

All you do in case of a spill is to clean up the spill immediately. For fresh spills avoid using dry rags to simply wipe off the liquid.

What you’d rather do is to dab the liquid with a damp cloth so that you prevent liquids such as soda or coffee from sinking into the pores of the leather.

In other instances, you may miss out on the spills when they happen, especially when the spill was by a child.

For such old spills, you’ll need to clean it up with a leather saddle soap and warm water. You can check out this leather saddle soap on Amazon if you’re interested in buying.

Finally, in as much as spills affect both natural and synthetic leather, it’s worse on natural leather due to its pores.

So if you happen to have kids or pets, and you want to still use natural leather items especially for home leather items you can go for corrected grained leather or better still synthetic leathers.

This is because of the minimal impact of liquid spills compared to full-grain and top-grain leather items.

2. Body Oils Transferred onto Leather

Yes, when you’re spending that comfy moment in your favorite leather sofa, the leather sucks and eats up fluids such as sweat, oils, from your skin into its pores.

This particular happens a lot especially during summer when the perspiration that happens on our skins is off the charts.

Here also we refer to the skin lotions, conditioners, and all other various hair and skin products that get transferred onto the leather item through contact.

Remedy to Body Oils Transferred onto Leather

This issue can be addressed but unlike common spills, body oils can be a bit tricky to deal with.

For this situation, you will straight-away need to use a leather cleaner like mild saddle soap, clean cloth, and warm water to clean.

You just rub your solution of water and saddle soap gently over the affected areas after which you’d have to air-dry with a clean cloth immediately.

Once dry, you will need to condition the leather with a leather conditioner to restore the lost oils while you cleaned.

3. Over Conditioning Leather

Many of us love to take care of our leather items especially when we see the lovely transformation and restoration that happens when conditioners hit the leather item.

But, when we use too much conditioner on our leather items, the excess that the leather pore isn’t able to take in causes the leather item to become sticky.

Remedy for Over Conditioned Leather

Conditioning is something you apply on natural leather, in particular, to retain its natural oils and prevent the leather from becoming dry.

Ideally, conditioning leather should be done once or twice a year depending on how much usage the leather item sees.

To avoid over conditioning leather items, you must ensure you keep to the conditioning routine which won’t entail daily, weekly or monthly conditioning schedules.

Having your leather items conditioned daily, weekly or monthly qualifies as over conditioning.

Also, you wouldn’t want to over-apply too much leather conditioner to the leather. You have to stick to the exact amount you’re required to apply per session.

If you find that you have applied excess conditioner to your leather item, dab off the excess.

If you’re unsure, you completely and thoroughly clean the leather surface to rid it off all conditioner substances you applied earlier and reapply the conditioner strictly according to the instructions on the leather conditioner package after you’re done cleaning.

Related: 5 Best Non Sticky Leather Conditioners

4. UV Damage to the leather

Direct sunlight on leather negatively affects it greatly. At home, you wouldn’t want to position your leather furniture close to parts of the house when the sun is direct or other heat sources.

Too much heat doesn’t do well for leather as it causes the natural oils of the leather to form sticky residue over the surface of the leather making it feel clammy when touched.

Remedy To UV Damage to the Leather

For this issue, positioning is key. Meaning where you place your leather items is important.

Leather items much are to be positioned in cool, dry, and well-ventilated places.

If there’s nothing you can do about the positioning and exposure of leather items such as bags, shoes, watches, that see a lot of sun, then you can use this leather UV protector to prevent UV damage.


Having your leather item getting stuck to your body when you use them can be uncomfortable, and unbearable.

The factors that cause the stickiness as discussed earlier in this article such as spills, UV damage, Body oils, and over-conditioning leather are but pretty ordinary causative factors that do not require rocket science to fix.

In very simple practical steps, your sticky leather will feel as good as need

Related Questions

Why does patent leather become sticky?

Patent leather becomes sticky often because of decay and long use without proper care and maintenance. There is however a few things you can do to remedy or mitigate the stickiness of patent leather. The patent leather can be cleaned and wiped down with mineral spirits.

Why does vinyl become sticky?

Vinyl becomes sticky because, after using vinyl for some time, it begins to bring out an oily and sticky substance or residue on the grain surface of the leather. This can be taken care of using ordinary cleaners you can find around your home.

Related Articles:

  1. 5 Best Non-Sticky Leather Conditioners
  2. 7 Simple Ways To Fix Sticky Patent Leather
  3. 3 Reasons Why Faux Leather Gets Sticky & 6 Ways To Easily Fix It
  4. Difference Between Leather Conditioner and Mink Oil (Plus Which is Best!)


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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