Causes of Leather Discoloration and How to FIX it

Have you ever noticed that your leather sofa, couch, or chair has a bit of a yellowish hue to it? Or maybe it’s developed some dark patches that seem to be getting worse over time? Chances are you’re dealing with leather discoloration.

Leather color may start to rub off due to a variety of reasons, from the environment to how you’re treating your furniture, clothing, or shoes.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what makes leather discolor and how you can prevent it from happening.

leather discoloration

Why does the color come off leather?

There are a few different things that can cause the leather to become discolored such as exposure to sunlight, water, chemicals, and harsh and abrasive cleaners. 

1. Exposure to sunlight

The most common cause of discoloration is exposure to sunlight or extreme heat. UV rays can make the leather become brittle and peel.  It also causes the natural color to fade, making it look dull and lifeless.

2. Water and moisture

Water damage is also common especially in places with extreme humidity. If the leather gets wet often and isn’t allowed to dry properly, it can develop mold or mildew that can change the color of the item.

3. Chemicals and abrasive cleaners

Certain chemicals, cleaners, and soaps used on leather can also cause it to discolor. For instance, using a harsh cleaner on a light-colored leather couch leaves permanent stains.

4. Body Oil

The oils from our skin can cause discoloration on leather surfaces over time.

Body oil tends to transfer to the leather from our skin leaving behind a greasy film. This greasy film builds up over time and soaks into the leather pores causing it to darken.

Also, certain types of body oils may interact with the leather finishes or dyes, causing them to change color or fade.

5. Aging

Aging can also cause a leather couch to discolor because natural oils in the leather start to dissipate over time. This leads to yellowing or browning of the material and the leather may darken or develop a patina.

6. Color or dye transfer

Color or dye transfer is another common cause of leather discoloration. If the dye from a colored article of clothing or fabric comes into contact with a piece of leather furniture, it can transfer and leave a stain.

This is because leather is porous, so if your colored jacket or dress rubs up against it, some of the colors can get absorbed into the couch.

Additionally, hair dye is one of the toughest stains on leather that can be extremely difficult to remove. So if you like dyeing your hair, you should avoid rubbing your head against your leather furniture or use a protective cover.

Why does color rub off the leather couch?

Color can rub off a leather couch due to a variety of reasons such as the use of low-quality leather dyes or pigments that are not properly bonded to the surface of the leather. This can result in the color rubbing off or fading over time, especially with frequent use.

Another reason can be due to wear and tear such as the friction caused by clothing or accessories rubbing against the leather.

In some cases, exposure to heat or sunlight can also cause the color to fade or rub off.

Proper care and maintenance including the use of high-quality leather care products can help prevent color loss and maintain the appearance of the leather.

How to fix leather discoloration in 4 ways 

  • Leather repair kit

If the discoloration is more severe, you might need to treat it with a leather color restorer and apply an appropriate oil for the leather.

The leather kit will help to restore the color and get rid of any stains and marks on the leather.

I had a beautiful leather couch that had seen better days. It had been in my family for years and had accumulated a fair amount of scratches and scuffs over time.

The color had also faded in certain areas, making it look dull and worn.

I didn’t want to get rid of it, so I decided to try using this leather discoloration repair kit called The Original Leather Re-Coloring Balm by Furniture Clinic to bring it back to life.

Here are the steps I took to restore the faded leather color of my couch.

  1. First, I cleaned the entire couch with a leather cleaner to remove any dirt or grime that had built up on the surface. I made sure to dry it completely before moving on to the re-coloring balm.
  2. Then, using a soft sponge, I applied the balm to the areas where the color had faded, as well as the scratches and scuffs. I found that the balm was easy to apply and spread evenly over the surface of the leather.
  3. Once I had covered all of the affected areas, I waited for the balm to dry completely before buffing the surface with a soft cloth. I made sure to remove any excess balm and to bring out the shine of the leather.

The result was impressive – my couch looked almost new again. The color had been restored to its original richness and the scratches and scuffs were much less noticeable.

I highly recommend you use this repair kit to restore the color of your faded leather furniture or clothing.

Remember to test the repair kit you choose in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire piece to determine whether it is safe to use on the leather.

  • Rubbing alcohol

Another way to fix discolored leather is by using rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol helps to repair leather damaged by water and can help lighten the leather and restore its original color. It also helps to remove any dirt or build-up that may be causing the discoloration

All you need to do is dab a little rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball and gently rub it over the affected area.

It’s important to note that rubbing alcohol can also ruin leather, so be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area first.

If you notice any type of damage, stop using rubbing alcohol and try another method.

  • Appropriate leather cleaners

There are a few different types of leather, so it’s important to know what kind of leather you’re cleaning in order to choose the best cleaner.

Generally, though, you should avoid using abrasive cleaners on leather as they can ruin the surface and cause it to become dry and cracked.

Many people recommend using Clorox wipes or moistened towels to clean leather. Just be sure that the product you’re using is safe for leather and won’t cause any damage.

  • Avoid overexposure to sunlight

To avoid discoloration, it’s important to keep leather out of direct sunlight and to keep it clean and dry.

Also, avoid putting leather items in the dryer. Heat and sun are enemies of leather and over-exposure can cause it to fade and even crack.

So by keeping your leather items out of the sun, you can help preserve their color and appearance and extend their life.


To conclude, we hope this article has helped you understand the different causes of leather discoloration and how to fix them.

Leather can discolor due to a few different culprits like sun exposure which bleaches the leather and causes it to fade.

Other causes include mold due to water and humidity, chemical and abrasive cleaners, and body oils.

You can fix this discoloration by using proper leather cleaners or dyeing the leather.

Using a good quality leather protectant on your furniture can also help to prevent sun damage. This will help to keep it from fading in the sun and protect it from any staining or blemishes that may occur due to spills or accidents.


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