Fix Scuffed Leather Shoes

Leather shoes are a great investment. They demonstrate that the wearer understands and appreciates good quality workmanship. They also show that a person takes pride in themselves and their appearance.

Of course, the appearance of those leather shoes can undermine this message if they are scuffed, scratched, or poorly cared for.

There are no do-overs for first impressions. Knowing how to fix scuffed leather shoes will help you put your best foot forward.

These scuffs and scratches happen as the shoes are worn, but that doesn’t mean that the shoes are worn out. The durability of leather shoes is one of their biggest appeals.

There are a variety of options for how to fix scuffed leather shoes. None of them are terribly hard or time consuming. Here are the best tips and tricks to make your shoes shine!

Light Scuffs

Light scuffs are when your shoe is only suffering from a surface scuff that causes a bristling or discoloration. There are a couple simply tricks to try to fix this kind of scuffed shoe.

A simple hair dryer can be used to fix the lightest of scuffs on any leather shoe. I recommend using a medium heat setting.

Then hold the hair dryer four to six inches away from the shoe. Once the leather is warm, rub the area with your fingers or a polishing cloth. The scuff will disappear like magic!

If the hair dryer doesn’t work, petroleum jelly is a great second option. Be sure that it is really petroleum jelly and not lotion. Some lotions may discolor the leather of your shoes. I always use Vaseline.

  • Dab a small amount of the petroleum jelly on a clean cloth
  • Gently rub it into the scuff by rubbing in circles
  • Wipe off any extra jelly
  • Use a polishing cloth to blend the area
  • Apply a clear or colorless polish to make it shine

The third option to fix light scuffs is to use vinegar. When you dab it on the leather, the material will swell and fill in the scuff. Once it’s dry, use a polishing cloth to buff the area.

The final option is to use a recoloring balm. You’ll need to purchase this at a specialty store or online. Use a clean cloth to rub it into the scuff using a circular motion.

Medium Scuffs and Scratches

These tips are for when the surface of the leather has been broken. There should not be any peeling, though. This is also how to fix scuffed faux leather shoes, too.

Some people purchase leather glue to fix medium scuffs and scratches. I’m never that well-prepared. I always use a basic superglue.

Just be sure that it is clear glue. Expanding Gorilla Glue that dries brown is a poor choice. It will not match the brown of your leather shoes.

Start by scraping against the grain of the leather to raise the scuffed bits. Apply the tiniest drop of superglue while rubbing it in against the grain before rubbing back with the grain. This will leave a smooth, flat surface.

If you are using real leather glue, this requires less urgency. The process is the same, though. Now it’s time to ensure the color matches. Be sure to have a permanent marker that matches the color of your leather shoes.

Knowing how to fix scuffed brown leather shoes does require a special recoloring marker. Brown leather changes often changes color as it ages.

I find that I have to go to a leather store or shoe store to find a marker to match brown leather.

Sometimes no recoloring is needed. If it is needed, start in the middle of the glued spot. Move outward, very gently. This should blend the recolored area with the leather around it.

Medium Scuffs and Scratches

Deep Scratches and Scuffs

Occasionally, leather shoes end up with scuff or scratch deep enough to almost be described like a cut. It may leave a small hole or flap of leather. This requires a different approach.

If you are facing a larger scratch or scuff like this, I would encourage you to go all out. Get the right tools for this job!

This kind of scuffed shoe can still be easily fixed. It will just look much better if done exactly right. That will mean using real leather repair supplies.

  • Use leather glue to seal any loose flaps of leather
  • Trim any loose bits
  • Use a sponge to apply leather binder or deep filler to fill in any gaps or dents. This may take 8-10 coats
  • Use a very fine grain sandpaper to smooth the area - I recommend 1200 grit
  • Clean the area with a leather cleaner that has alcohol in it
  • Use a leather dye to recolor the area – now is not the time for a Sharpie!

frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I use a Sharpie to recolor leather?

In a pinch, a black Sharpie can improve a small area on black leather. This works better with faux black leather.

Never use a Sharpie on brown leather! Brown leather changes color as it ages.

Can use lotion to repair light scuffs?

I lean toward “no.” If the lotion has no added scents, colors, or dyes, it could work. It comes with a high risk of discoloring the leather, though. It’s not a risk I’m generally willing to take.

​If I’m using a hair dryer, how hot should it be?

Your hairdryer should only be warm. Place your hand on the leather. If the air blowing on your hand feels hot, hold the hair dryer further away from the shoe.

Conclusion

Knowing how to fix scuffed leather shoes is an easy way to save a lot of money. Leather shoes are a great investment. 

Don’t let a little wear and tear worry you. Leather shoes are always a great way to make a strong first impression.

Ensuring that your shoes are in good repair and well-cared-for will show that you are detail-oriented person who cares about quality.

There are many easy tips and tricks to keep your shoes shining.

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