Do you need to lighten your leather? Maybe it’s gotten darker over time, or maybe you just want that bright white new look. Either way, there are some simple ways to get the job done without spending too much money!
What can you do to make your leather lighter? This is a question that many people ask themselves when they are decorating their home or office. There are some easy ways to lighten leather without using harmful chemicals like bleach, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide. These methods work well on the more stubborn areas of leather such as shoes, furniture, jackets, belts, and purses.
- Leather stain remover or cleaner;
- Solvent (optional);
- White towel or rag;
- Scrub brush (optional, but makes it easier);
- Leather protector (optional);
Removing the Top Finish
- Make sure the leather is clean before applying your solvent;
- Apply a generous amount of cleaner all over the area you want to lighten;
- Wipe off any excess with a damp towel or rag, but make sure there’s still some on it so it can work its magic;
- Let stand for 15 minutes then wipe again until dry and tacky. You’ll have lighter areas where there are cracks in the finish now;
Bleaching the Color
- Apply a few drops of solvent to your white towel or rag;
- Wipe onto the leather in one direction only, going with the grain;
- This will help prevent streaking and uneven color. Let dry completely before moving on;
It’s now ready for another application as needed until you achieve desired results! Some people may need up to 3 applications depending on how dark it was originally. Make sure to let each coat dry thoroughly before applying more so as not to damage anything else that might be soaked into the hide during this process like stitching or liners throughout pockets, etc.
You can always apply a very light layer of protectant over the top after it’s all done if you desire an even lighter color but again make sure it’s completely dry before doing so.
Once you’re satisfied with your results, let it stand for 15 minutes then wipe off any excess oils left behind to protect the color from fading again.
You can now apply a light layer of leather protector if you want to keep it nice and fresh! But be warned that this may darken slightly after it’s all said and done depending on what exactly is used in whatever brand/type of product you decide upon using, but nothing too drastic usually happens unless there was an issue during the bleaching process like streaking or uneven application, etc.
Main Methods to Lighten Leather
Oxalic Acid Method
This method is a great choice if there are only a few visible spots on the leather to be treated. Also, it’s suitable for soft and very light-colored leathers that don’t have any protective finish applied. Most importantly, this method doesn’t cause unwanted color changes in natural leathers as do other bleaching agents do.
The main drawback of the Oxalic Acid Method is its long treatment time which varies from 2 weeks to 6 months depending on how many layers were used before applying the oxalic acid mixture and what kind of material was being processed (i.e., pigskin vs cowhide). However, you should know that it takes one hour for an untreated layer or spot to oxidize once exposed to air.
Oxalic acid can be prepared at home by mixing 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with a cup of water and boiling the solution for 30 minutes until it forms crystals on top. Once cooled down, these crystals should be mixed in a blender with another half-cup of water and some drops of ammonia (optional) to form a thick paste which is then applied directly onto affected areas or layers using an artist’s paintbrush. After about 1 hour you will notice that the treated layer has become lighter so the treatment process may continue overnight if necessary.
A day after the first application, oxalic powder mixture must be reapplied again on all untreated spots or layers as well as there are still dark residues left from previously removed ones; this procedure should be repeated until all layers and spots have been treated. Finally, after this process is completed the leather must be washed thoroughly with soap and water to remove traces of powder mixture from its surface; it’s recommended that you repeat this step several times in order to avoid possible skin irritation when wearing gloves or clothing made out of untreated areas.
The good news about using the Oxalic Acid Method is that there will be no color change for naturally tan-colored leathers such as veg-tanned horsehide chrome-tanned cowhides (nubuck), while aniline-dyed Nappa’s suede may slightly fade if darker shades were used before dyeing. However, experts do not recommend applying any kind of protective coating over the bleached area as it may cause cracking and peel-off.
Last but not least, if you intend to apply a clear protective coating on top of your leather surface, experts recommend that you use water-based formulations only!
Various oil finishes have been reported to discolor after being applied onto previously treated oxalic spots or layers. In addition, keep in mind that this method is suitable for chrome-tanned leathers only because vegetable re-tanning will result in the darkening of untreated areas that were previously lightened with an oxalic acid solution.
Soap and Warm Water Method
This method is considered to be the simplest and least expensive one, but it’s not suitable for all types of leather. Also, keep in mind that this treatment may cause color changes on naturally light-colored leather if darker shades were used before dyeing.
Most importantly, the Soap And Warm Water Method don’t work well when removing water spots or oxidation from nubuck because these areas are too porous which prevents penetration into deeper layers of leather where oxalic acid can do its job more effectively.
On top of that, depending on how much time has passed since spotting occurred there might have been some natural re-tanning process already completed so don’t expect 100% removal results after applying any spot remover.
When using this method, you need to mix a cup of lukewarm water and one tablespoon of any gentle hand soap (not those containing moisturizer as they may leave marks on the leather surface) in an empty bowl. It’s recommended that you stir the mixture with your fingers or use a clean sponge until bubbles form.
Apply this solution onto affected areas by gently rubbing them for several minutes if needed. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any type of commercial product. It’s really important not to rub too much because our goal is simply removing superficial dirt and stains without damaging top layers which could cause color change or cracking over time.
Once the treated area becomes lighter after about 15-20 minutes, remove excess moisture with paper towels and allow the leather to dry at room temperature.
If you want to make sure that all excess moisture has been removed, experts recommend using a hair-dryer (set on low heat) since it allows reaching hard-to-get areas without any risk of burning or damaging your precious leather goods. Once the surface is completely dry, please note that applying any type of oil won’t help with re-darkening these spots because they are not truly “oxidized” even if this process looks similar from first sight!
For deeper stains that can’t be lightened enough with the hand soap method, experts advise performing several treatments until desired results are achieved. However, there’s no guarantee for 100% perfect due to many other factors like age and condition of the leather, type, and dye used, etc. but at least you can still get a significant improvement (e.g., 90% less noticeable).
Some people recommend using household bleach for this method. However, experts don’t advise that because it may cause discoloration on light-colored leathers if applied in large amounts or over prolonged periods of time! As such, please use carefully if trying to remove spots from nubuck as bleaching agents are extremely efficient when dealing with protein fibers only!
Instead, experts recommend combining hand soap mixture with one tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide which has proven to be much more effective than just plain water alone because it works faster and penetrates deeper into the skin layers without causing any unwanted changes on light-colored skins.
If you don’t like using hydrogen peroxide, there’s another alternative known as the Milk Of Magnesia method that works great for this purpose; however, we can’t guarantee perfect results unless combined with soap and water mixture so keep reading to find out how it goes!
After applying milk of magnesia onto affected areas by gently rubbing them with a clean cloth or sponge until they become lighter, rinse off excess moisture with lukewarm water, and allow leather to dry at room temperature if needed before further processing.
In case spots are caused due to dye bleeding from vegetable-tanned skin (e.g., oak bark), experts recommend combining hand soap solution with vinegar in order to remove these and other types of stains.
Neatsfoot Oil or Mineral Salts Method
When using neatsfoot oil or mineral salts method to treat leather spots and stains caused by dye bleeding from vegetable-tanned skin (e.g., oak bark), experts recommend rubbing affected areas with one part neatsfoot oil and two parts water until they become lighter. However, we advise testing on an inconspicuous area before applying it all over because these ingredients may discolor light surfaces!
After allowing time for soaking in, use paper towels to remove excess moisture without scrubbing since this could cause damage-prone top layers especially if applied excessively even though results are much better than bleaching agents when dealing with protein fibers only!
Once all excess moisture is removed, experts recommend massaging lightly to work the oils into leather fibers. If you want a better result with less oil build-up on the surface, experts advise applying mineral salts or neatsfoot oil mixture before going through any of these processes so that they have time to sink in and do their job properly without being rubbed off too soon.
If you prefer not to use any chemicals whatsoever or if previous methods failed, it’s possible to re-dye your leather skin with the same color using acrylic paints available at most arts and crafts stores.
After applying some paint onto the affected areas, experts recommend carefully dabbing with a clean cloth or sponge until it becomes lighter as you would do when working with wall painting so that color is applied evenly without being rubbed off.
In case leather skin was dyed using oil-based dyes (e.g., castor oil), experts advise at first removing excess surface oils by steaming and wiping them down before going through any of these processes otherwise this method will not work properly!
Finally, after waiting for at least 24 hours to allow drying time under something heavy, use paper towels to remove excess moisture from your shoes/bag followed by a brush used to apply a thin coat of dark wax polish matching its original color and gently rub into the leather’s surface to complete treatment.
If you want a better result with less oil build-up on the surface, experts advise applying mineral salts or neatsfoot oil mixture before going through any of these processes so that they have time to sink in and do their job properly without being rubbed off too soon!
Can you bleach leather to make it lighter?
No, you can’t bleach leather. Bleach can fade or strip the color from leather if it is not used properly.
Does sunlight lighten leather?
Most of the time, sunlight will not lighten leather. Sunlight can only help fade out stains on your leather good if it is being absorbed into the skin. If you are looking for a way to naturally darken or lighten your favorite pair of shoes that have turned too pale in color, you can take some steps before bringing them back with chemical treatments at home.
Will hydrogen peroxide lighten leather?
Yes, hydrogen peroxide will lighten leather. Leather is made of animal skin and the tanning process turns it into a durable material that can be used to make articles like shoes, jackets, or furniture.
Leather has an ability to absorb colors very well which makes it easy for you to dye your leather jacket different shades using dyes designed especially for this purpose.
If not taken care of properly then dyeing could damage your expensive leather jacket’s color but with some tricks in hand; one can easily restore its original color without spending too much money on professional services or buying new clothes altogether.
Is vinegar bad for leather?
Vinegar is not bad for leather. While it’s not necessary to use vinegar for lightening leather, some people find that a cup or two of white distilled vinegar added to the bucket of water when they’re deglazing makes their finished product look cleaner.
Why does your leather get darker after you apply the product?
This is likely due to the oils in the leather coming out. Since you are using a lightning agent, it breaks down that oil and causes your garment or accessory to darken temporarily. This should only last for about two weeks! Once all of the oils have been broken down, which will happen naturally over time when exposed to air, no more color change can occur. You’ll be left with your original lighter shade since there’s nothing else causing any discoloration in this case!