Brown Leather Turning Black – What’s Wrong?

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Leather is a material that's always appealing to the eye. It can come in various colors, brown being one of the most recognizable. The problem with owning brown leather is the discoloration it can suffer. Sometimes it can develop black spots. If you want to know why it happens, we have some answers.

Brown leather can darken for various reasons. One of the common causes is congested pores. So, maybe it's been some time since you've cleaned the leather. In other cases, you might be using the wrong conditioner. Some conditioners, like mink oil, can darken brown leather.

There are more details to discuss on this topic. At this point, you might be wondering how you can restore the leather's color. Additionally, what are some ways to prevent it from turning black again? We can offer some explanations for these concerns. To learn more, keep reading.

A huge roll of brown leather, Brown Leather Turning Black - What's Wrong?

Why Does Brown Leather Darken

Before fixing the problem, we have to find out why the leather turns black in the first place. It can darken for various reasons. One of them being our body oils.

Think of body oils as our natural conditioner. Without it, we'd dry out and crack easily. It's the same situation for leather. Leather needs a conditioner to maintain its looks.

Dark brown leather with visible lines and marks

However, our body oil is not a good conditioner for leather. More specifically, our pH levels are unfriendly to the material. So, every time we touch it, the fibers weaken in some capacity.

The worst part is how often we come in contact with it. There's a saying that leather darkens with age. Part of the reason it darkens over time is our body oil.

Over time, it clogs the leather's pores. So, what was once brown leather, will turn black. Fixing this problem is relatively easy. You'll need to clean the leather and apply an appropriate conditioner.

You May Be Using The Wrong Conditioner

Maybe you're already familiar with some of the information above. So, you clean the leather and apply a conditioner routinely. Yet, the brown leather still changed color. So, what gives?

Unfortunately, it might be a problem with the conditioner you use. You can't use any random one. Manufacturers make conditioners with different formulas.

The conditioners that darken leather are typically more effective. For example, take a look at mink oil. It's a conditioner people use for leather boots. Mink oil makes the leather more water-resistant.

However, the trade-off is usually the color.

If you want to see the difference it can make, here's a YouTube video demonstrating a before and after:

Fixing The Issue

You might not be able to resolve the problem at all. At best, you will have to settle for a different shade of brown. Unfortunately, some conditioners change the color permanently.

Some sunlight will be able to brighten the leather. It should take a couple of weeks for this to happen. However, it won't return to the original brown color.

Therefore, it serves more as a learning moment. Be careful with the type of conditioner you use.

Dye Transfer

Another reason why your brown leather can turn black is dye transfer. So, a clothing item or anything else that touches the leather is transferring its dye. It depends on how those items were dyed.

Something as simple as jeans could also rub off on the leather. You might have some investigating to do. In any case, it's easy to clean off the dye.

All you need is a leather cleaner. After you scrub the area, it should return to its normal color. Of course, don't forget to apply an appropriate conditioner afterward.

Aged Leather

Leather can darken through age. The color will fade over time naturally. Therefore, it's an aspect out of your control.

If you want it to be brown again, there are a few ways to do so. Though, it's easier if you buy a new one. It's nearly impossible to restore brown leather to its original condition.

In any case, you can get close to it. You can let sunlight brighten the leather naturally for a few weeks. Then, it's time to use a leather colorant kit.

Restoring The Color

A leather colorant kit will contain many items. What you're essentially doing is stripping the leather of everything. More specifically, you're removing tannins, resins, and oils.

It's like starting with a fresh canvas. Then, once the leather is significantly lighter, you apply the dye. Colorant kits are good if you want to change the color of the leather too.

Of course, there are alternatives to these kits. Some people use acetone to strip the leather. However, the cheaper options are typically risky. If you make a mistake, the leather will age faster.

Darkened leather will be the least of your problems. So, you have to weigh the risks. Regardless, it's up to you to decide how you restore the leather.

How To Clean Brown Leather

Dark brown leather sofa

Cleaning leather is a simple task. However, you want to be careful with how you do it. If you look online, there are various methods to follow.

Some of them use household items like dish soap and baking soda. Do they work to clean the leather item? Yes, they do. But, it has its downsides.

Household items tend to age leather faster. They're not pH friendly. After every use, the fibers in the leather will break down. At worst, household cleaners can turn the leather into mush.

Use The Correct Cleaner

If you want to maintain the quality, you need a dedicated cleaner. This way, you're not breaking down the fibers after each use. Additionally, the leather will need a conditioner.

Conditioner adds necessary natural oils. Think of it as a lotion for the material.

Cleaning And Conditioning Leather

Dark brown leather photographed up close

When you have a cleaner on hand, start the process by spraying it on a sponge. Then, gently scrub the leather in circles. There might be a dirty film that develops during the process.

At this point, wipe it off with a dry, clean cloth. Once you clean the surface entirely, it's time to apply a conditioner. The procedure is nearly the same.

Take some conditioner and rub it on the leather surface. You can use a cloth to do this if you'd like. However, the cloth will absorb some of it. So, it might be better to spread it with your fingers.

If you'd like an example of the process, here's a YouTube video demonstrating how to clean brown leather shoes:

You can follow the same steps for most leather items like bags, sofas, and jackets.

Can Leather Be Restored?

Leather can endure many situations. Although you need to handle it with care, it's a durable material. However, materials break down. There's no way to stop that.

But, is it possible to restore it to a better condition? The answer would be it depends. If deep cracks develop, it's too late to try to bring the leather back to life. The fibers have broken down enough to tear apart.

However, if there are small cracks, it's possible to make it look as good as new. You'll need to buy several products to restore it to good condition. Manufacturers like FurnitureClinic sell products that can act as fillers.

More specifically, they have products that can bind torn fibers together.

Here's a YouTube video demonstrating how it works:

How Do You Prevent Color Transfer On Leather?

Brown leather photographed up close

Finding out that you have a dye transfer problem isn't good news to hear. If a dye can bleed onto leather, it can transfer to other areas. So, you might be wondering if there's a way to prevent it from happening again.

Unfortunately, you might have to limit what you wear with the leather item. In other words, avoid wearing darker colors than brown. Though, that might not be a good solution for some people.

In this situation, a protectant would be the better choice. Protectants apply a layer over the leather. Thus, if dye bleeds onto the bag/jacket again, it will be easier to remove.

Instead of penetrating the leather, it will sit on top of the leather protector. It's a good solution if you don't mind spending more. They can get costly.

What To Do If Dye Transfers To Leather?

No matter how careful we are, mistakes happen. Somehow dye manages to transfer to leather, despite how careful you were with what you wear. What can you do?

It's crucial to address the problem right away. Otherwise, the dye has time to settle into the material. Once you see the discoloration, take out your leather cleaner and remove it.

You may need to visit a professional leather worker if the dye doesn't come off with a cleaner.

In Closing

A huge roll of brown leather

Leather is a luxurious material that many people love. But, it needs constant care. As we've found out, brown leather can turn black for various reasons. Fortunately, we can reduce the impact by cleaning and conditioning the leather.

Before you go, do you have other leather concerns? Are you wondering how often you need to condition leather boots? To learn more, check out:

How Often To Condition Leather Boots?

Did you buy a new pair of leather boots? If you'd like to know how long they last, check out:

How Long Do Leather Boots Last?

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