How to repair cat & other scratches on leather material
by Albert Varkki updated 12-19-2020
Leather Scratch Repair Guide
Found a cat scratch on the couch or similar damage on any other leather item? Have a look through this step by step guide for a range of solutions. The first thing you should do when you find a scratch on leather is:
- Identify the type of leather you're working with
There are three main types of leather. “Finished” leather is durable with a scratch and moisture resistant surface. “Unfinished” leather is soft and absorbs moisture. The last type is “Bicast” leather, which is made from inferior leathers that have been thinned and laminated. Bicast is not classed as fake leather, but it is widely used in lesser quality purses and fashion accessories. Some of the following steps are not suitable for some forms of leather, so please keep this in mind as you progress. It’s also a good idea to try a little spot test before committing to a full application of any solution or oils.
- Identify how deep the scratch is
If it’s only a minor scratch, only the coating on the leather will be damaged, which is a much more simple repair. If the leather itself is scratched, you should see thin strands and fibers of the leather coming out of the cut. In the worst cases, if you can see the stuffing on the inside of the furniture or if you can see right through the leather on a shoe or bag, this is a major tear that only an expert will be able to repair for you.
- If it’s a minor cut
You should be able to drastically reduce the severity of the scratch by rubbing saddle oil, olive oil or even lanolin cream into it. Try adding a single layer with a soft cloth or Q-tips, letting it dry, then adding a new coat over and over multiple times. Rub across (perpendicular to) the cut in a circular motion to smooth over the damage. If you don't notice a change, move on to this next step:
- If it’s a deeper scratch
Deeper scratches will only really be repairable on finished leather. Deep cuts on high quality unfinished leather are often permanent. For this step you will need a leather repair kit or repair pen. These will feature an agent called “filler”.
- First, clean the area with an alcohol rub on a cotton cloth.
- Once the rub is dry, clip loose fibers around the edges of the cut with scissors.
- Use the pen or filler from your kit to fill the gaps in the leather, and use your finger to smooth it over evenly.
- Let the filler dry for the recommended time described in the instructions that come with the kit or pen.
- Once its dry, you should use a piece of sandpaper to gently smooth over the area, getting rid of any excess lumps of filler that have dried on the surface.
- Apply a leather finish to the area
You can rub in a leather cream or olive oil to the area to further conceal the damage. Many specialist creams will also help to protect and waterproof the surface.