How to Repair Cracked Leather

old leather on chair with cracks and lines
  • 1-3 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-50
What You'll Need
Stainless steel serving spoon
Glycerin saddle soap
Show dauber
Leather restore cream
Leather cream
Mink oil
Dry brush
Used dryer sheet (optional)
Small spatula (optional)
Leather glue (optional)
What You'll Need
Stainless steel serving spoon
Glycerin saddle soap
Show dauber
Leather restore cream
Leather cream
Mink oil
Dry brush
Used dryer sheet (optional)
Small spatula (optional)
Leather glue (optional)

Leather can be a great material. It can make great jackets, car seats, armchairs, accessories, and more. But what about if your leather starts to crack and tear? It can look unsightly and make you wish you never had leather to begin with.

Cracked leather repair is a skill that can serve you well for a long time to come because it is inevitable that you will come across leather cracked from use. Leather, by definition, is animal skin that has been tanned and treated.

Cracked leather repair takes patience and practice, as well as some distinct tools. The following article will show you how to conduct cracked leather repairs on most surfaces. This will save you a lot of money as leather is expensive and can be difficult to replace.

Repairing what you already have is more cost-effective, more environmentally friendly, and easier than having to search for new leather goods, especially ones that match other goods you may have as part of a set if only one item is cracked and the others are fine.

1. Clean the Leather

As with many DIY projects, you will need to start by cleaning the leather. Since the leather is cracked, it is safe to assume that it is old and worn. Use a dry brush to remove any dirt, dust, or debris.

You want a piece of leather that is soft, clean, and flexible. Cleaning the leather will also give you a better sense of just how cracked the leather is and the extent of the damage.

Once the top layer of dirt is removed, you can clean the leather more deeply. Use the shoe dauber to apply the saddle soap. A shoe dauber is a brush used to apply show polish or other products to leather.

A shoe dauber generally has a beech wood handle and a horsehair brush that is round on the end of the handle. Don't use your normal hairbrush, use a shoe dauber instead for the best results when cleaning your leather.

You do not have to soak the leather completely through. However, if you are working on leather belts or shoes then you want to work the saddle soap in until the leather is flexible.

Do not be too rough but make sure that the saddle soap is in all the nooks and crannies and is really able to clean the leather thoroughly.

Allow the leather items to fully dry before you continue on to the next step. You want the leather to feel somewhat creamy to the touch but not wet, and it should remain flexible.

2. Smooth the Leather Cracks

Now that the later item with a crack has been thoroughly cleaned, you will need to dab your leather with a little bit of the mink oil. Smooth the mink oil over the surface using the back of the stainless steel spoon, using light pressure when rubbing the cracks until the cracks appear to not be as deep or pronounced.

If you are working with shoes, you must stuff the shoes with something like tissue paper so that the leather is rigid. This is a requirement, not an optional step, and must be done. Use a hard surface when working on belts or similar items.

3. Treat the Leather

Once the cracks are as good as you can get them, it is now time to condition all of the leather on the item.

Shoe cream is a great product for treating cracked leather since it will not only color the cracks in the leather but blend the color of the entire item, making it a great option to treat and hide cracks. This means that cracks in the leather will be well blended.

4. Treating Deeper Cracks

Even a deep crack can be repaired to look as good as new. To treat a deeper crack, you will need to start by using a used dryer sheet cut to the size of the crack plus an extra inch all around.

Use a spatula to apply leather glue to the crack's inside and all around it by about an inch. Maneuver the dryer sheet into the crack using the spatula while the glue remains wet.

Spread out the dryer sheet so it connects to the glue and then press the leather together at the sides until the sides touch. Dry the area overnight and then apply mink oil to smooth out the crack.

Once your repairs have been finished, be sure to use leather conditioner at least once a week to keep your leather in great shape.

Leather Shoes

As previously mentioned, if you are trying to fix leather shoes, you will need to stuff them with something like tissue paper so that they are firm enough to work with. Then you can follow the same steps from above in order to fix the shoes.

If they are a more expensive pair of shoes or have a bigger crack, you may want to take them to a shoe repair store to have them fixed professionally.

Whatever repair method you go with, make sure to take care of the shoes and seal them against water and other potential future damage.

Can You Rehydrate Cracked Leather?

You can rehydrate cracked leather to a certain degree with a quality conditioner. Make sure to thoroughly rub the conditioner in order to rehydrate the leather as much as possible.

Why Does Leather Crack?

If you've read the above, you know how to fix cracks in all types of leather products. But why does leather crack in the first place?

Leather is porous, meaning it soaks up oil and other dirt from people using it. This may mean just you if it is something like shoes, but it can come from a number of people or even pets, in the case of a leather chair.

The oils are absorbed into the top coat of the leather. Eventually, this will break down, which causes cracks in the leather surface.

Leather Crack Prevention

The easiest way to fix leather cracks is to prevent them from happening at all. There are quite a few ways to do this, but it comes down to this: take care of the leather.

Like with almost everything, a little preventative care can go a long way and prevent costly repairs, fixes, or replacements from being necessary later on.


One of the easiest things you can do to prevent leather cracks from forming is to use a protection cream or conditioner on your leather. The protective cream or conditioner will help smooth out the leather and prevent cracks from forming.

Before sitting on the leather chair or using the leather jacket, it is important to give the protective cream or conditioner time to dry and really soak into the leather. Wait until it is 100% dry to use the leather item in question again.

Make sure to consult the manufacturer of things like a leather couch. They should have information on how often conditioner should be applied to keep it looking its best.

Make sure to follow these recommendations. Generally speaking, you should apply conditioner about a year after purchasing the leather item in question.

Home Made Treatments

You can purchase leather conditioners at many home improvement stores as well as furniture stores. You can also make your own easily enough.

A great option is using a lemon essential oil. Grab a damp cloth and put a few drops of the oil on it. Then gently massage it into the leather. This should work as a homemade leather conditioner, not to mention smell nice! You can do this a few times a year to extend the life of the piece.


Another option for homemade leather conditioners involves everyone's favorite, most versatile cleaning product: vinegar. To create a vinegar-based leather conditioner start by adding 1 quart of warm water to a large bucket.

You should then add one tablespoon of dish soap and a few drops of vinegar. Do not overdo it on the amount of vinegar you add to the solution. Like other later conditioners, you will need to rub this into your leather item.

To do so, dip a cloth into the mixture and then ring it out. You should make sure that the cloth is damp but not wet so you do not damage the leather when you apply the solution to it. Once you have, give the leather time to thoroughly dry before using it.

Other Oils

Oils like neatsfoot oil, almond oil, and mink oil can all be used on leather as well. Like the other previously mentioned products, these will help prevent the leather from cracking and drying out by moisturizing the leather like a conditioner does to hair.

Petroleum Jelly

You can also use petroleum jelly the way you would a conditioner or protective cream.

Apply the jelly to the leather item and wipe off any excess. Like with the protective cream or conditioner, make sure it has time to thoroughly set in before you use the leather item you are applying the petroleum jelly to.


If you follow the above-mentioned steps and advice, you will be able to repair cracks in leather so that it looks its best.

You can repair everything from leather seats to a leather jacket if you spend the time working on it.

Remember to take proper care of your leather at all times and fix if sooner than later if issues arise so that your leather will last a long time.