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How To Get Wrinkles Out Of Leather for Different Leather Types

The other day, I left a hide unrolled and sagging across a chair, and to my chagrin, it developed some wrinkles in it! I did some sleuthing to determine if I could get rid of the wrinkles or if I had just ruined an entire hide. I hope you’ll find these tips useful for saving your wrinkled leather.

Getting wrinkles out of leather is the process of removing unnatural (or unwanted) creases that have formed on the material’s surface. This can generally be done by applying heat via steam or iron, at an appropriate level, for approximately 10 minutes.

Though there is one method I think works best for getting wrinkles out of leather, it will be good to dive deeply into how exactly wrinkles are removed and a few different ways to accomplish this. Let’s take a look at how to get wrinkles out of leather items. 

What is Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather? 

Sometimes, leather that goes unattended (especially when resting poorly packaged or sitting crumpled) can develop wrinkles. If this comes as a surprise, just look around at the people around you—our skin also develops wrinkles over time! Leather is no different.

Getting wrinkles out of leather is useful for various leather goods. It entails removing any of the unnatural (or unwanted) wrinkles that have formed in leather through an application of heat via an iron. The use of heat to address wrinkles is well-documented; after all, ironing clothes has been around for quite some time.

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A Steam Iron

In a 2017 article for American Scientist, Mark Lorch examined how applying heat changed the chemistry of organic textiles like cotton and hemp. The very same principle applies to ironing leather to get the wrinkles out. Once a few preparatory steps are completed, it should be fairly straightforward to smooth out the wrinkles in your leather jackets, leather upholstery, or even leather hides! 

Uses for Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather 

Some specific uses for getting wrinkles out of leather are leather jackets, leather upholstery, and leather hides. Leather jackets are always in style, but sometimes, it can be hard to ensure they’re stored properly. Leather jackets can take on deep wrinkles when left on a chair too long (yes, I do this too). Therefore, it’s important to get the wrinkles out of the jacket so that your outfit looks clean. 

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Getting wrinkles out of leather upholstery is important for similar reasons. A leather sofa looks much better when the surfaces are smooth and unwrinkled, but having more wrinkles in a leather sofa can also be bothersome for other reasons. Since a leather sofa is common for snacking, having deep wrinkles can contribute to the accumulation of debris between the folds of the wrinkles.

Getting wrinkles out of leather is useful for a variety of leather goods, and it entails removing any of the unnatural (or unwanted) wrinkles that have formed in leather through an application of heat via an iron.

This will cause issues with the cleanliness of the leather sofa in the long run and will likely affect the leather itself. So, getting wrinkles out of the leather in a leather sofa is important to maintaining the sofa’s longevity. Last but not least, getting wrinkles out of leather hides is important.

According to a 2015 article in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, there are also two ways of classifying leather according to how they wrinkle: fine-break leather and coarse-break leather. Fine-break leather wrinkles develop very fine wrinkles, which can add to the aesthetic appeal of the leather; coarse-break leather, however, develops a few coarse wrinkles, which can suggest that the leather is lower quality or in need of better hydration.

Leather hides are usually not cheap, and sometimes, storage doesn’t go quite the way we planned. When leather hides get rumpled, creases and wrinkles can appear, which may ruin how they look in preparation for their usage. Getting rid of wrinkles allows you to make good use of your leather hides and not consider them totally wasted.

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Wrinkles in Leather

Types or Variations of Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather

There are a few ways of getting wrinkles out of leather, but some may be more effective (and safer for the leather) than others. One way that some have found useful is to steam the leather. This is a bit less practical for leather upholstery and more tailored towards leather pieces like jackets.

Steam can be produced by closing a bathroom door, running a hot shower with the leather jacket on a hanger, and letting the steam soften the leather and release the wrinkles. Another way to get wrinkles out of leather is using diluted alcohol.

By spraying some diluted alcohol (one part water, one part rubbing alcohol), the leather can be loosened and stretched, and the creases or wrinkles can be smoothed by hand. However, this method will definitely dry out the leather, so be sure to apply some leather conditioner after it’s all said and done. The last (and possibly best) way to get wrinkles out of leather is to use an iron without steam.

The last (and possibly best) way to get wrinkles out of leather is to use an iron without steam.

Laying the leather good as flat as possible, lay some brown paper or even a pillowcase and spread it on top of the wrinkled surface. Then, with the iron at a medium setting (and again — no steam), smooth out the surface of the leather with either the paper or the pillowcase in between. The wrinkles should come out swiftly (and safely). 

The Pros and Cons for Each Method of Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather

Hot Shower/Steam Method

Very simple, no extra tools requiredToo much exposure to steam may lead to water soaking into the leather, which will damage it
Takes up to ten minutes to do – quickMay not be effective on thicker leather
Very little effortNot easy to transport leather items like leather upholstery into the bathroom
The Pros and Cons of the Hot Shower/Steam Method of Removing Wrinkles From Leather

Alcohol Method

Relatively simple, household ingredientsLeather will be dried out from alcohol
Not too labor-intensive: stretching the leather out by hand is the hardest partStretching out the leather may deform the leather thickness, which may be undesirable
The Pros and Cons of the Alcohol Method of Removing Wrinkles From Leather

Ironing Method

Safe for the leather as long as necessary steps are takenCan be time-consuming
Nothing fancy needs to be purchased—most households have irons or irons are readily purchasedNeeds the most tools
Precise—you can make sure you get the areas you need to get based on where you’re ironingHas a higher learning curve
The Pros and Cons of the Ironing Method of Removing Wrinkles From Leather

Tools Needed for Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather

Depending on which of the three methods you’re using, you may need to find some common household items. If you’re attempting the steaming method, you only need a coat hanger and a shower with hot water.

If you go the alcohol route, having a spray bottle to mix the diluted alcohol solution in will be crucial. Lastly, if you’re going to iron the leather, having an iron, some brown paper or a pillowcase, and possibly an ironing board (though this isn’t strictly necessary) will be helpful. 

Skill Level of Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather 

Of the many skills leathercrafters acquire by doing the work of leathercrafting, getting rid of wrinkles will reflect your skill at some common household tasks. Therefore, it shouldn’t be too difficult to take care of any wrinkles that may appear in your leather or leather goods. If the wrinkles are especially deep, it may take a little more time, but the skill required to remove them remains more or less the same. 

How to Get Wrinkles Out of Leather

The first two ways of getting wrinkles out of leather are self-explanatory; ironing leather can be trickier. Here is a step-by-step guide to how it works: 

  1. Lay your wrinkled leather flat (or find a flat surface on the leather item). 
  2. Set your iron to medium heat without steam — steam is unnecessary for this method.
  3. Spread the brown paper, pillowcase, or towel over the surface of the leather.
  4. Iron the surface of the leather.
  5. The wrinkles should begin to come out. If they’re stubborn, just take your time and keep at it.

Here’s a detailed video demonstrating how you can get wrinkles out of leather upholstery: 

Tips for Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather

  1. If you’re using the alcohol method, apply a leather conditioner on the leather after stretching it out.  
  2. Between the three methods, the ironing method is the safest and puts the leather at the least amount of risk (when done correctly).  
  3. When trying to steam the leather item in an enclosed hot shower, around 10 minutes of exposure to steam should be enough. Overexposure can lead to water being absorbed, which may ruin the leather. 

How to Get Better at Getting Wrinkles Out of Leather

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The key to getting better at getting wrinkles out of leather is to be patient. The first two methods of getting wrinkles out of leather may be a bit faster than ironing, but ironing is the safest and least likely to change the nature of the leather when done correctly. 

Related Insights

How do you get deep wrinkles out of leather?

To get deep wrinkles out of leather, you can attempt the hot steam method to relax the leather, then go over the top of the leather with an iron on medium heat without steam.

Can you iron leather to remove wrinkles?

Yes, you can. However, do not iron directly on the leather; instead, have some brown paper, a cotton towel, or a pillowcase between the iron and the leather to ensure the safety of the process. 

How do you unwrinkle a leather couch?

To unwrinkle a leather couch, you can set some brown paper or a pillowcase on the couch’s flat (albeit wrinkled) surface and iron the surface until the wrinkles come out of the couch.

Can you put leather in the dryer?

Avoid putting your leather in the dryer. Though it may produce heat, the dry environment in the dryer will cause the leather to lose its oils and possibly cause the leather to crack.

Can you use a steamer on leather?

Yes, you can use a steamer on leather. However, be cautious not to overexpose the leather to steam, as having too much water may be bad for the health of the leather. Around ten minutes should suffice.

Does genuine leather wrinkle?

Yes, genuine leather can wrinkle. Leather can wrinkle in different ways based on if it’s fine-break leather or coarse-break leather, and the better quality leathers will tend to be fine-break leathers.

What causes leather wrinkles?

Looseness in the grain of the leather can cause wrinkles. Another factor is how the leather is stored or used; leaving leather jackets crumpled on a chair is a surefire way to get wrinkles in the jacket. 

Final Thoughts

Getting wrinkles out of leather can be bothersome, but it is a necessary skill for properly maintaining (or preserving) the leather goods you already have. After reading this article, I hope you have a better understanding of all the possible — and safe — options for removing wrinkles from any leather product.

Since there are so many options, trying out a mix of them can be helpful just in case doing only one doesn’t work out. Good luck with getting those wrinkles out! 

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