How to Repair Heat Damaged Leather

by Mark Morris

Heat-damaged leathered requires cleaning and color restoration.

leather belts image by timur1970 from

Heat and sun can fade and dry leather, creating a dull, chalky surface that may look beyond repair. For burned or badly weathered leather, the most you may hope for is improvement. However, for heat bleached or dried out finishes, shoe-care products are an inexpensive and effective means of restoring most leather finishes to like-new condition. Most leathers are dyed in common colors that can be matched with shoe polish. Always test an inconspicuous section of your leather before committing to a color.

Items you will need

  • Saddle soap
  • Damp cloths
  • Shoe polish
  • Dry cloth
  • Shoe brush
Step 1

Use a soft brush to clean excess dust and grime from the surface of the leather.

Step 2

Rub a moist cloth over the surface of leather soap, also called saddle soap, to develop a lather. Rub the lather into the leather, wiping the excess off with a clean damp cloth. Allow it to dry, and rub the surface to buff the moisturizer in.

Step 3

Rub a soft cloth on the surface of a shoe polish that most closely resembles your leather in color. Rub the polish on an inconspicuous spot, and rub it in. Wait for 20 minutes, then compare to the original color.

Step 4

Apply color to the damaged, faded area with a soft clean rag. Buff the color into the leather with a circular motion, feathering the new color into the surrounding existing finish. Allow the polish to dry, then buff the leather with a soft shoe brush to a shine.

Step 5

Apply clear polish on top of color coat for furniture or other fabric that may come in contact with clothing to ensure that no color transfers. Allow the leather to cure for 24 hours before exposing it to heat or moisture.


  • Shoe repair stores typically have a color chart and can match colors for you.

    Most polishes darken slightly as they dry.

    If the entire piece is scuffed, polish the entire surface for a sure match.


  • “Leather Care Technician Manual”; Lonnie McDonald; 2004
  • “Taking Care of Clothes: An Owner's Manual”; Mablen Jones; 1982

Photo Credits

About the Author

Mark Morris started writing professionally in 1995. He has published a novel and stage plays with SEEDS studio. Morris specializes in many topics and has 15 years of professional carpentry experience. He is a voice, acting and film teacher. He also teaches stage craft and lectures on playwriting for Oklahoma Christian University.