How to Fix Leather Shoes Peeling

As someone who has had their fair share of leather shoe mishaps, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to see your favorite shoes start to peel.

That’s why today I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks on how to fix leather shoes peeling.

When your faux leather shoes are peeling, it’s easy to think that it’s time to toss them out and start the search for a new pair, but you don’t have to – fixing leather shoes peeling is easier than you might think.

So here are some tried and tested methods on how to repair peeling leather shoes.

how to fix leather shoes peeling

Causes of leather shoes and boots peeling

The peeling of leather often starts as small patches on the shoes that gradually spread and turn into cracks and holes eventually. The finish or sealer on the leather’s surface is usually what is cracking rather than the leather itself.

Some of the leading causes of this occurrence include;

1. Leather gets old

Leather is animal skin so it is bound to age. As time goes by, leather starts to lose its elasticity and becomes brittle as it ages.

When this happens, your leather shoes weaken and start to crack and split and eventually peel.

2. Dryness

Dryness is another cause of peeling leather jackets, shoes, boots, and even car seats. When the leather gets dry, it loses its natural oils and becomes brittle.

If it is not treated properly, it may crack and peel away from the shoe. To prevent this, use a quality leather conditioner regularly.

3. Sunlight exposure

Leather shoes can start to peel or fall apart due to the effects of sunlight.

The heat from the sun causes a chemical reaction in the leather that breaks down the collagen. This weakens the leather fibers and causes the shoes to start peeling.

It’s generally worse on areas on the shoes or boots where there is more exposure to sunlight such as the back of the heel of the shoe.

4. Faux leather

Peeling can also be attributed to the leather material used to make the shoes.

Over the years, synthetic leather-like bonded or faux leather has become very popular in making shoes due to its affordability. It is much easier to produce than real leather so synthetic leather products are much cheaper.

However, despite its affordability, synthetic leather wears out easily, especially when exposed to heat or moisture.

Shoes and boots made from such leather tend to wear out and peel easily when exposed to weather elements compared to real leather items.

5. Improper fitting

Does your leather shoe feel too tight? If the shoe does not fit correctly, the leather can stretch and break thereby resulting in peeling.

So always make sure that the shoe fits snugly around the foot.

6. Oil and grease stains

Oily and greasy substances can seep into the shoe and create a film on the surface of the leather shoes. The oils also get trapped under the leather and affect its ability to stretch.

Getting rid of the oil stains is quite difficult so eventually, it causes the leather to peel off.

7. Improper Care and cleaning

Improper care can also lead to peeling leather. Leather should be cleaned regularly and conditioned.

However, using harsh chemicals on the leather and over-washing dries out the natural oils in the leather.

When this happens, the shoes become brittle and the finish or sealant starts to peel away.

8. Water or moisture

Leather may rot and start to peel if it gets exposed to water or moisture over a prolonged period of time.

Also, if the shoes are not dried properly after washing, they may start to peel and may deepen the color of the boots.

You should dry them out completely before storing them in a moisture-free place.

9. Poor storage

Storing leather shoes or boots in a humid or damp environment can cause the leather to become moldy or mildewed, which can lead to peeling.

This is because moisture can get trapped inside the material and create an environment for mold and mildew to grow.

To prevent this, it’s important to store them in a cool, dry, and well-ventilated area. Avoid storing them in areas such as basements, attics, or damp closets where humidity is high.

Additionally, it’s important to keep leather shoes and boots clean and dry. If they get wet, be sure to let them dry naturally, away from direct heat or sunlight.

How to fix leather shoes peeling in 3 ways

Real leather shoes hardly peel. So if yours are peeling, there is a high possibility that they are made of faux or synthetic leather.

The best way to fix faux leather shoes that are peeling will depend on the severity and location of the damage.

Here are some more detailed explanations of different methods you can use to fix the peeling.

First, you will need to gather the following items and tools depending on the method you choose.

  • Leather polish/glue or glue/paint or dye/
  • Soft cloth/sponge
  • Clean cloth
  • Leather conditioner
  • Small brush or applicator
  • Sandpaper/scouring pad
  • Sharp scissors or utility knife

Method 1: Using a leather polish

This method is ideal for minor surface peeling on leather shoes or boots. To restore the shoes by polishing, follow these steps;

  • Start by scraping off the peeling leather finish on your shoes. Use your desired scraping tool but make sure the shoes are dry so that the finish can come off easily.
  • Finish off the scraping with fine sandpaper to remove any traces of wax on the shoes
  • Once done, apply the shoe polish to the shoes using a sponge or soft cloth. Apply generously and allow the polish to dry for about 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, the polish will have been absorbed into the shoe fabric.
  • Apply a second coat and then let it dry before buffing the excess polish off for a shiny look.

Method 2: Using leather paint or dye

Painting leather can also be a method to fix leather shoes that are flaking, especially if the peeling is limited to the surface color of the leather.

This method involves applying a leather paint, dye, or stain to the affected area to restore the color and cover up any peeling or cracking. To achieve the best results, follow the steps below;

  • Clean the shoes thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Use a soft-bristled brush or cloth to gently remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the shoes.
  • Next, use fine-grit sandpaper or a scouring pad to lightly sand the surface of the shoes to remove the peeling material and to create a smooth surface for the paint to adhere to.
  • Once done, apply the leather paint or dye to the affected area.  It’s advisable to apply two coats of paint to the shoe for the best results. But let the first coat dry for at least 24 hours before applying the second coat.
  • Let the paint dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This may take several hours or overnight.
  • After the final coat of paint dries, add some finishing touches. Add a bit of wax or leather condition to protect the shoes from scuffs and scratches, and elements as well as to keep the leather supple.

Method 3: Using leather glue or adhesive

If the peeling is minor, it may be possible to fix it by applying an ideal leather glue.

You need to do is to apply the glue to the back of the peeling section using a small brush or applicator and then press it back into place.

Hold it in place until the glue dries completely, which might take a few minutes or longer depending on the type of glue used. Some adhesives you should consider are contact cement, flexible superglue that is designed for leather, or epoxy.

How to prevent shoes from peeling 

So you’ve managed to fix your peeling faux leather problem but now you’re left wondering how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Here are some tips and tricks to help you out.

  • Take proper care of your shoes

First things first, let’s talk about the importance of proper shoe care.

Keeping your leather shoes clean and conditioned is crucial in preventing peeling.

So make sure to wipe down your shoes with a damp cloth after each wear and use a leather conditioner to keep the material supple and moisturized.

  • Avoid over-exposure to elements

Another tip is to avoid exposing your leather shoes to extreme heat or cold.

Extreme exposure to weather elements causes leather to dry out and crack, which can lead to peeling.

  • Ensure proper storage

If you need to store your shoes for an extended period of time, consider investing in shoe trees.

Shoe trees help maintain the shape of the shoes and prevent any moisture buildup. This in turn prevents peeling caused by moisture damage.

  • Invest in good quality leather shoes

While it may be tempting to opt for a cheaper pair of shoes, they’re often made with lower-quality bonded materials that are more prone to peeling.

So, invest in a good quality pair of leather shoes that will last you for years to come.

  • Use the right leather cleaners

Using the right cleaner is an important part of leather shoe care.

Harsh cleaners and abrasive detergents tend to scratch and dry out the leather causing it to peel over time.

So it’s important to use a leather-specific cleaner to keep your shoes clean and prevent peeling caused by improper cleaning techniques.


Why are my shoes peeling inside?

If the inside of your shoes is peeling, it is likely due to the use of poor-quality materials or excessive moisture due to excessive sweating of your feet inside the shoes. The peeling can also be caused by friction especially if your shoes are too tight or ill-fitting.

How to stop shoes from peeling inside

To stop shoes from peeling inside, try to keep your feet dry by wearing socks made of breathable materials like Merino wool and changing them regularly. Also, you can use shoe inserts, moisture-wicking spray, or foot powder to absorb moisture and reduce friction inside the shoes. If your shoes are already peeling, use shoe glue or adhesive to reattach the lining material.

How to fix peeling white leather shoes

Fixing peeling white leather shoes can be challenging and may not always be possible depending on the severity of the damage. If the peeling is not severe, try using leather glue or a leather filler to fix the peeling leather. But if it’s severe or widespread, you may need to take your shoes to a professional shoe repair shop to have them fixed.


Just like what we talked about in our previous article regarding the reasons why leather sofa peels,  there are many factors that contribute to the peeling of leather shoes.

They include factors such as the use of harsh cleaners, water damage on leather, and sun exposure among others.

Luckily, here are a few ways you can prevent the peeling and flaking of leather boots and shoes in the first place as explained in this article.

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