What Is Leather Balm?

Cindy Quarters

Leather balm is a type of conditioner used on leather to either restore or preserve its appearance. It is often used as a way to keep leather smooth and supple, and it can also help to make it waterproof. This product typically works best on very smooth surfaces. In many cases leather balm not only conditions leather, it can also be used to clean it.

Leather balm is used to restore faded or damaged leather furniture.
Leather balm is used to restore faded or damaged leather furniture.

Typical ingredients include waxes, oils and lanolin, all of which are able to be absorbed by leather. It is possible, though, that using a balm can cause a light leather to become darker, so it should be used with care to avoid causing discoloration. Dark leather normally does not get lighter as a result of the use of any balm, but will only get darker.

Leather balm can keep the material smooth and supple.
Leather balm can keep the material smooth and supple.

Footwear made of various types of leathers is prone to being scuffed or dirtied in the course of normal use. Applying leather balm can help to protect the leather from damage. In many cases, it can also remove dirt and scratches from the surface of the leather, provided that none of the scratches goes very deep.

Coloring leather balm is a product made specifically to restore color to faded or damaged leather. When couches, chairs or other leather items are exposed to a lot of heat or sun, they typically fade to a much lighter color than they were when new. Worn areas and creases are much more noticeable, and the item tends to have an old, tired appearance.

Working a good-quality color-restoring leather balm into the furniture can make a tremendous difference for such items. With most such products the amount of the balm used controls how dark the final result will be. For a light brown chair with areas of sun damage it may require a single coat to restore the color. A dark brown chair, though it uses the exact same product, will most likely need two or three applications before regaining its natural color.

The nature of leather balm causes it to be absorbed into the leather when it is used. There is generally no residue to wipe away once the balm has been applied. It can take quite a bit of rubbing to make sure the leather balm gets fully absorbed, but once it does it essentially becomes part of the leather. Even the balm used to restore color to leather will not rub off on clothing or skin, according to the manufacturer.

Leather balm may provide water resistance.
Leather balm may provide water resistance.

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Discussion Comments


How much leather balm would it take to do an entire couch?

My parents have this massive leather couch in storage that they offered to me. It needs some work, but it is a nice piece of furniture. Will I need dozens of cans of leather balm to get it back into shape?


Are there any instance when you shouldn't use leather balm? I have a couple of really nice leather items and I would hate to ruin them accidentally.

I found this old leather jacket that belonged to my dad in the 60s in my grandmother's attic after she passed away. I asked my dad if I could have it and he said sure (not really his style anymore.)

It had spent a long time in the attic and was in pretty bad shape. But I used a leather balm all over it and it looked like new. It was soft and had this amazing, deep leather color. It is a great jacket and now I wear it everyday.

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