How to Fix Peeling Leather Shoes (Detailed Guide)

How to Fix Peeling Leather Shoes

If you own a pair of classy leather shoes, then watching them peel off would be one of your worst nightmares. Imagine the shoes not being worth all the money you spent on them, making them a sheer piece of waste and not usable anymore.


You can still use your pair of leather shoes, even if they have started to peel off and fix them for good. Many of us may not be taking good care of our leather shoes, and most leather types are not of the original quality, which causes them to peel. Leather that is cheap or bonded eventually starts ripping apart, and the shoes start looking dirty and old.

Therefore, we came up with some easy DIY hacks that you can try to fix your leather shoes and prevent them from peeling. In fact, you can make them look good as new and style them up with our tips mentioned below. Read on to know!


Does Real Leather Peel from Shoes?

Real leather that is of excellent quality does not peel from shoes or any other material. Instead, good quality leather lasts for years and runs down generations despite frequent use. But, if you notice that the leather has started peeling off your shoes, then there could be a few reasons that we think causes the peeling:

  • Either the leather is not well moisturized and has dried out, which results in cracking and peeling off leather. And undergoes many
  • Either it is bonded leather and has some synthetic layer on top of leather that eventually causes it to peel off.
  • The leather is of cheap quality.

Leather originally is obtained from animal hyde, undergoes a lot of chemical processes like tanning and drying to come into commercial use finally. However, just like any other animal or human skin that needs to be moisturized, leather too requires moisturization and nourishment, else it will start chapping and peeling off.

Nevertheless, good quality leather should stick to your shoes for a long time and not start wearing out or peeling off easily. Read on further to know the reasons for leather starting to peel off and how to fix peeling leather in shoes.


Why does leather start peeling from shoes?

There are several reasons for leather to start peeling off your shoes. It can depend upon the leather quality, the usage of leather shoes, and cleaning techniques. Here is a list of things that we believe can damage them and cause the leather to start peeling:

Cleaning Products

We often assume that the products we use for cleaning our furniture or glass panes will also work for our shoes to give them a good shine and make them spic and span. However, that is not the case because certain cleaning agents contain alcohol.

Leather and alcohol do not go well together because alcohol can cause discoloration, causes the leather to dehydrate quickly, and eventually, the leather starts peeling off. Even if the leather is sealed on your shoes using any adhesive or sealant, the sealant will start coming off, and eventually, the leather loses its anchor over the shoes, causing it to start peeling off.

Various other chemical solvents like alcohol are used in cleaning agents and can have adverse effects on leather. Alcohol can be helpful to get rid of germs on the leather surface but is not suitable for the overall material. Hence, choose your cleaning agents wisely the next time you clean your leather shoes.


Bonded Leather

Bonded leather is not genuine leather. It is faux or reconstituted leather that lacks the quality of original leather. Original leather does not peel off. It may start wrinkling or lose its shine if the leather is not maintained well and if it is too old, but it will never peel.

Bonded leather is finally come into commercial use and made by cheap means. Several pieces of cheap quality leather are sewn over a base fabric or paper and then given a polyurethane coating for the leather-like looks and finishing.

Original good quality leather is made from animal hide, which is cut into several pieces, tanned, and dyed, which then goes to shoemakers for stitching onto the shoe. You will even find the neat and well-sewn stitches that hold the leather properly in good quality shoes. This is why these shoes neither tear apart nor do the leather peel off their surface.

Bonded leather does not have the same elasticity as genuine leather and hence starts peeling off easily.


Using rough brushes and clothes on leather shoes

If leather shoes have become old and wrinkly, then a rough brush or cloth will cause the leather to peel off. Using clothes having rough fibers or using the wrong brush that has hard bristles for your leather shoes will scrape off the leather material instead of cleaning them perfectly.

Therefore, we must take good care while cleaning and choose the appropriate brush while cleaning leather shoes. Brushes with horsetail bristles and soft nylon fibers are ideal for cleaning leather shoe surfaces and prevent them from getting scratches or peeling off.


Synthetic Leather

Synthetic Leather

Synthetic leather again is something very similar to bonded leather and is a cheap alternative to natural leather. It is made of synthetic materials like polyurethane (PU) or polyvinylchloride (PVC) but cracks off easily and starts peeling due to its poor quality. It is not as elastic and durable as full-grain leather, which never peels off despite looking old and cracked or wrinkled.

Therefore, it is necessary to educate ourselves about what good quality leather is and how to recognize the right type of leather to prevent our shoes from peeling off.


Wrong Methods of Drying

A lot of us don’t realize the fact that leather needs some levels of moisturization. Excessive drying can cause the leather skin to become wrinkly, and eventually, the leather will start peeling off.

Sometimes, we also use reasonable quick-drying coarse methods like keeping it near the fireplace, using a hairdryer to dry it instantly, keeping it under direct sunlight, keeping it in front of the heater, etc. These methods can cause the leather to deteriorate, just like it damages our skin and cause the leather to peel off. Even dry weather can cause the leather to start peeling off.


How to Fix Peeling Leather Shoes?

Once leather shoes have started to peel off, they lose their charm and start looking rugged. However, they can be fixed and revived back to normal. It would not look the same as original leather but looks way better than having a pair of leather shoes falling and scraping off.

Here are a few tried and tested techniques that we suggest you could try to fix your leather shoes for good and prevent peeling:

Nail Polish

Nail Polish

If there are small patches of leather peeling off from your shoes, then nail polish can be used to fix those small patches. They are shiny and mimic the looks of leather to some extent.

But, nail polish may contain acetone that can harm your shoes, so make sure to either dilute it or use it in tiny amounts. If you are scared the shoes are of poor quality, avoid damage in any way.


Spray Paint or Dye

Spray Paint or Dye

Spray paint or dye can also help you fix your peeling shoe. Here is what you need to do:

  • First, use a blunt knife or the edge of a credit card to peel off the entire peeling leather from the shoes.
  • You would also find some wax that looks like cream below the leather layer of your shoes. Make sure to scrape that off too.
  • Once done scraping, the shoes should now look even and uniform. They almost start appearing like nubuck shoes without the leather coating.
  • Make sure to keep a newspaper below to collect all the scraped-off material and dispose of it.
  • Now, you can use spray paint or dye to color coat your shoes.


For Spray Paint:

  • Choose any spray paint color of your choice.
  • Cover the insides of your shoes adequately to avoid the spray color from entering inside the shoes.
  • Remove the shoelaces if there are any and color them separately.
  • Shake the spray paint can well before spraying.
  • Spray evenly over the surface of your shoes.
  • You can give multiple coats of sprays based on how light or dark you want the shoes to be.
  • Before spraying a second coat, allow the first coat to dry at least a few hours or overnight.


For Dye/Acrylic Paint:

You can also use dye or acrylic paint to prevent the peeling of leather shoes. You can either apply these in a small patch or over the entire shoe to give it a new look altogether.

Here is what you need to do:

  • Scrape the peeling leather off the shoes completely using a blunt knife or the edge of a credit card.
  • Now, mix some dye paint or color of your choice. Keep 30% of the paint, with the rest being water, and mix well to avoid any lumps in the paint.
  • Make sure it is not very watery nor too dry, as dry paint can start cracking on the shoe surface, causing it to look dry and wrinkled.
  • Use a paintbrush, and apply a single coat over the shoes. You can use different colors if you want different designs.
  • Apply a single coat and then allow the paint to dry for a few hours. For best results, allow it to dry overnight.
  • Next, apply the second coat evenly on the first coat and allow it to dry again.
  • Check for any non-colored spots and your shoes are good to go!!


Shoe Cream

Shoe Cream

Another similar technique that you can use is to apply shoe cream. Scraping off the peeling leather remains the same in this method as well. All you need to do is:

  • Use a sponge or a soft cloth that you can use to apply the cream evenly.
  • Choose a brown or black colored cream based on the shoe color. These colors are readily available in any local store.
  • Dip the sponge or cloth in the shoe cream slightly.
  • Dab it gently on the shoe surface and repeat this over the entire shoe surface until you get a uniform color.
  • Wait for the first coat to dry for a few minutes, and then apply the second coat.
  • Allow it to dry, and your shoes are good to go.


Vinyl and Leather Repair Kits

Certain shoe manufacturers also have vinyl and leather repair kits that are easily available in shoe stores. These kits help to repair the peeling sections of the shoes and recolor them or seal the peeling off repeatedly.

But, these kits need to be used once in 3 or 6 months for effective results; else you can always go to your cobbler to help fix the shoes for you using these kits.


Tips to Prevent Leather From Peeling Off Shoes

If you want to retain the quality of your shoes and make sure that the leather does not start peeling off sooner or later, here is what you can do to maintain your boots:

  • Keep your full-grain leather shoes moisturized using a shoe cream or leather conditioner. Moisturizing prevents the material from cracking and eventually stops it from peeling off.
  • Before applying any shoe moisturizer or conditioner, clean and remove the dust from the shoes properly using a brush or a microfiber cloth.
  • If your leather has become wet, pat dry the leather immediately.
  • Deal with the material gently and avoid the use of any sharp objects on the leather.
  • Air-dry the leather instead of using a hairdryer or hot drying agents.
  • Don’t use artificial drying agents.
  • Do not clean the leather in a machine.
  • Avoid exposure to dry areas and direct sunlight. This can cause the leather to become too dry and make it peel.


Fake Vs. Real Leather – Ultimate solution to fix peeling of leather shoes

One of the best ways to prevent the leather from peeling off permanently from your shoes is to invest in a pair of good-quality leather. But, with a range of faux leather shoes available in the market, identifying which is real and which is fake is quite a task.

Therefore, we suggest a few ideas that you can consider to fix the peeling problem permanently and invest in durable, rich quality leather shoes:

Check the label

One of the most apparent facts to look for when checking the leather quality is to see the label. If it is genuine leather, then the label would clearly mention the type of leather and mostly where it is sourced from. If the label says synthetic or polyester, you know you are up for buying leather that would start peeling in a few months of purchase.

However, sometimes, labels can also be deceptive, and hence, we have listed other tests that you can try to check the authenticity of the leather and not be deceived.


Touch Test

While you touch the surface of leather, fake leather will feel very smooth and uniform, just like any plastic surface. However, real leather is also smooth, but it is grainy, and you can sense that by touching it. Real leather is also elastic and can stretch a bit, whereas faux leather is not even slightly stretchable.


Smell Test

Authentic leather has an earthy, natural, and distinct oak-like smell. In contrast, fake leather will feel artificial and smell different than what we mentioned above. You may want to smell real leather first before identifying if the shoes are made of real leather.


Check for pores

Leather is made of animal skin and would definitely have pores over its surface. Look closely or use a magnifying glass. If you don’t find any, then the leather shoe you are holding is fake.


Final Note

Leather peeling is a pervasive problem if the shoes you own are not made of original quality leather. Cheap and faux leather has tendencies to wear out and eventually crack up or start peeling, giving the shoes an inferior appearance. We would end up throwing the shoes away, thinking it was a sheer waste of money.

But, you can still fix the peeling of leather shoes by the easy-to-follow steps that we have mentioned above. You can manage to revive your old and favorite pair of leather shoes and make them good as new with our hacks above.

Not only are they simple to follow, but the materials required are also readily available, which is much cheaper than buying a new pair of leather shoes.

Additionally, we also guide you through why leather starts peeling off shoes and what you can do to prevent the leather from peeling off your shoes.

Follow our guide and shoe care tips above for best results and tell us if you could fix your peeling leather shoe through the comments section below.


Also Read:

How To Remove Paint From Leather Shoes

How to Clean White Shoes That Turned Yellow?

How To Prevent Shoes From Cutting Ankle

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top


Click one of our contacts below to chat on WhatsApp

× How can I help you?