How To Restore A Dark Brown Leather Recliner

Last updated on November 2nd, 2022 at 08:59 pm

How To Make Your Leather Recliner Look Great Again

A leather recliner is one of the best pieces of furniture you will ever buy. Leather recliners have a rich warm feel and offer soothing comfort after a long day and just relaxing. Leather is a durability and versatile material but is also prone to wear and tear. If not given proper care and using a leather conditioner, your leather recliner will start to fade, dry out and crack.

Leather Recliner Restore Project

Here is my step by step guide on how I restored my dark brown leather recliner. This was my first attempt at doing anything with leather furniture besides sitting in it and relaxing. It was much easier than I thought. I was really impressed with my results. My 15 year old recliner looks almost as good as the day it was purchased. Notice I did not say it looks like new. But pretty close and I have pictures to prove it!

When you are searching for ways to clean and restore leather recliners, you will find several possible ways to do this project. I don’t think any of them are perfect but most will probably give you good results. I was able to restore this recliner with less than $30 in supplies.

Most leather restore projects are needed because of neglect. What I found is that leather furniture really needs to be cleaned and conditioned once a year. If you don’t maintain leather it will start to get dirty, fade, crack and tear. If you have pets in the house, it will be worse as dogs and cats love to scratch furniture.

Leather Recliner Cleaning, Restoring and Conditioning

  • Cleaning with rubbing alcohol
  • Applying dark brown leather balm
  • Buffing leather balm
  • Applying leather conditioner

Supplies Needed To Restore A Leather Recliner

Leather recliner restore cleaning and conditioning products needed

Here are the supplies that I used to restore my leather recliner.

  • Goo Gone. My recliner had some paint and other gunk and I already had this at home.
  • Rubbing Alcohol. I used this as my cleaner. Always test on a spot first and see how the leather looks after it dries.
  • Coconix Leather Balm. This was the hardest decision to make as some sites don’t recommend using a leather balm and other swear by it.
  • Weiman Leather Conditioner. For the finishing touch.

Step 1. Cleaning The Recliner

After a few years of neglect most leather is going to need a thorough cleaning. If you don’t get the recliner clean, your project is going to have poor results. Recliners have two parts: the chair back or back of the recliner and the base or footrest. Start by taking the back of the recliner off of the base. There are usually two clips on the back of the recliner that release the two sections of a recliner to make it really easy to clean.

Start Cleaning With Goo Gone

I started with Goo Gone. This is an adhesive remover but I’ve used it on a variety of surfaces and it works really well as a cleaner also. After I had my recliner sections separated I started cleaning the underside of the leather base. You will find dirt, cobwebs, candy wrappers and maybe a little money when you start cleaning. Apply the Goo Gone with a rag or paper towel. Clean all the steel parts and springs. Make sure to test any parts of the leather before you apply any Goo Gone as you don’t want the leather to lose its color or fade.

Finish Cleaning With Rubbing Alcohol

Next I started cleaning with the rubbing alcohol. You will find that there are dozens of ways and hundreds of products to clean leather. From soap and water to vinegar solutions to expensive leather cleaners online that cost over $30 bottle. I already had a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the house so that was my first choice and it worked great. No fading of the leather and it dries quickly.

Here is what the arm rest and base looked like before cleaning. Leather that was dull and faded from neglect.These were the two worse parts of this dark brown recliner and had paint stains, food stains and scratches from our cat on the recliner base.

Leather recliner restore arms before picture
Leather recliner restore footrest after cleaning but before leather balm

Cleaning is the most important step in restoring a leather recliner. If you don’t get all of the dirt and grime off the leather, nothing is going to bring back the leather to its original color.

This was quite an improvement over what I started with but still not done. Notice the visable scratches and faded leather on the foot rest and very noticeable fading on the head rest area.

What my recliner looked like after cleaning with Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol.

Leather recliner restore after cleaning but before leather balm

Step 2. Applying Coconix Dark Brown Leather Balm

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical at first about using a leather balm. However, I did my research and bought the Coconix dark brown leather balm. Their website claims that it will “allow you to quickly and easily renew the color of your leather products”. I bought the Coconix 8 oz jar of dark brown leather balm on Amazon for about $20.

The Coconix Leather Recoloring Balm was easy to use. Put down a plastic drop cloth because some of the balm may get on the floor and it does not clean up easily. Good thing you have some Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol for that!

The Coconix Leather Recoloring Balm was easy to use. Put down a plastic drop cloth because some of the balm may get on the floor and it does not clean up easily. Good thing you have some Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol for that!

I was very impressed with this product. I started on a small spot on the back of the recliner just in case i screwed something up. But it was easy to apply by just dabbing the cloth applicator in the jar of balm and working it in a circular motion on the leather.

The only negative I need to mention with the Coconix leather balm is the gloves they supply. Really too thin to be of much use and tear easily. I used some disposable nitrile kitchen cleaning gloves I had and recommend you do also.

It took about an hour to completely apply the dark brown leather balm and I let it dry overnight. It felt dry after about 2 hours but I didn’t want to take any chances on buffing too early and having product come off.

the details of what it does and what you get in the box:

  • Restores & renews leather furniture, car and bike seats, office chairs, belts, purses, shoes.
  • Easy to apply. Flexible, waterproof, durable and will not rub off.
  • No paint, glue or patches needed.
  • Sufficient to restore 3 piece sofa set or a full car interior.
  • 2 cloth applicators and gloves included.
  • Professional results on top grain, split grain, bonded, pleather, faux, synthetic, bicast, genuine and premium leather upholstery.
  • 100% satisfaction and manufacturer guarantee.
  • 30-day money back guarantee and 1 year free replacement.

Step 3. Buffing The Coconix Dark Brown Leather Balm

After the leather balm is completely dry you will need to buff to remove any excess and remove the glazed look of the leather. Use the cloth applicator that comes in the box and start buffing the leather lightly. This isn’t like buffing was on a car so you will need to be more gentle with leather furniture.

How To Buff A Leather Recliner

Start with a clean cloth and gently make a small circular pattern. There should not be any wet balm at this point so all you will see are little specks of dust on your buffing cloth. After buffing you are now ready for the final step of applying the leather conditioner.

Step 4. Applying Weiman Leather Conditioner

Next to a good cleaning, applying a leather conditioner is the next most important step in a great leather restore project. Again, I did my research and went with Weiman Leather Conditioner.

Weiman’s contains natural conditioners that condition the leather and restore suppleness and sheen. Many products combine a leather cleaner with a leather conditioner. Weimans is one of those that can also be used as a cleaner. For my leather cleaning on this recliner, I really needed the initial cleaning with Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol.

How To Apply Weiman Leather Conditioner

  • First you will want to test the Weiman leather cleaner and conditioner on on an inconspicuous area of the recliner before use.
  • You do not want to spray the product directly onto the leather as this could cause spotty saturation.
  • Always spray onto a clean microfiber cloth and gently work the conditioner into the leather.
  • Then simply allow the wet leather to air dry at room temperature.

How My Recliner Looks After Cleaning, Applying Leather Balm and Leather Conditioner

Overall, I am very impressed with the results. The worse looking part of this recliner was the foot rest which had seen paint and food stains in addition to drops of dried paint.

Here are the before and after pictures of the foot rest.

Leather Foot Rest Before and After Cleaning and Restoring
Dark Brown Leather Foot Rest Before and After Cleaning and Restoring

What My Recliner Looks Like After Cleaning, Applying Leather Balm and Conditioner

Almost all of the scratches and uneven look of the leather are gone. Now I just have to keep it looking that way with a little maintenance every couple of months or so. One thing I did learn is that leather must be cleaned and conditioned on a regular basis to keep it looking good.

Leather recliner restore after picture

This project took about 3 hours total to complete. I did let the leather balm dry overnight before buffing so this can be completed easily in day. I am completely happy with how it turned out and would recommend using the steps outlined above.

Tips On How to Keep Leather Looking New

I’ve done many projects around the house, but this was first time working on furniture restoring, I thought I would share a little of what I learned along the way. Leather recliners can last for decades with a routine of cleaning and conditioning.

Clean and Condition Leather Furniture

  • Clean leather regularly. Remove any dirt, debris, or surface stains.
  • Clean spots and stains as soon as possible with soap and water.
  • Blot any stains, water or cleaning solution.
  • Remember after cleaning to apply leather conditioner.
  • If color starts to fade, try a leather balm to bring back the original color.
  • Use a condition on leather every 3-6 months.
  • Cleaning and conditioning your leather recliner at least twice a year.

Leather furniture’s appeal is easy to understand. You will have to take care of scratches, blemishes, fading and natural wear and tear. It is such a durable piece of furniture and with a little work leather recliners will last for decades.

Still Looking For Answers? Try Google Search.