How to Distress Leather

by Sarah Freeman

Distress any leather to make it look aged.

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Leather is a strong and durable material used to make garments and furniture, among other things. Sometimes owners want their leather pieces to look more worn-in and rugged. You can speed up the aging process of leather by distressing the material at home. Using a few methods, you'll be able to soften, scratch and ware leather. Distress the entire surface of the material or focus on choice areas you want to look more used.

Items you will need

  • Bucket, sink or tub
  • Blow dryer
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth or spray bottle
  • Sand paper
  • Wire brush
Step 1

Fill up a bath tub, sink or bucket with water. Place the leather inside and soak it thoroughly. Remove the leather from the bucket, then twist and wring it to get rid of any drips. Don't worry about creating creases in the material -- this will add to the distressed look.

Step 2

Blow hot air on the leather with a blow dryer. Move the heat all around the leather for an all-over distressed look, or concentrate on one area, such as the elbows of a jacket. The heat from the blow dryer will cause the leather to crack as it dries.

Step 3

Apply rubbing alcohol to the leather using a cloth or a spray bottle. This will dampen the material and make it more susceptible to the distressing techniques.

Step 4

Bend and crumple the leather in every direction. Use your hands to ball up the leather, squeeze it together and undo the material before starting the process over again. The more ways you manipulate the leather, the more distressed and worn it will appear.

Step 5

Rub a piece of sandpaper over the leather. Apply a gentle pressure to see how the rough paper effects the leather, then work the sand paper deeper into the material as needed. For an even more worn-out look, move a wire brush in different directions over the leather to scuff and scar the material.

Step 6

Beat up the leather using whatever materials or objects you have at hand. Place the leather on a hard surface and hammer all over. Throw the leather piece in a rock pile and stomp it into the stones. Swing the leather repeatedly into a tree or against a wall. The more you beat up your leather, the more distressed and worn it will become.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images