How to Remove Glue From Leather
Glue’s not an easy oozer to get off stuff, especially where superglue is concerned. We’re talking about a substance whose sole design is to stick things together, and won’t distinguish between preschool project craft paper and human skin. Naturally, since leather’s rather like human skin, it’s not going to distinguish between that either which means that sucker’s going to dive into your leather couch like a daredevil parachuting off a Grand Canyon peak. Which is to say, things are going down.
Today, we’re going to teach you how to get that glue back up again. It’s doubly important to do so as quickly as you can: if you don’t remove glue from leather before it sets, it can prevent it from breathing and dry it out (“How Does Leather Breathe?”). You can identify this by cracks forming in your leather’s surface, in which case you should give it immediate treatment. The longer it sets in, the harder it is to remove glue from leather.
Ideally, you should try to catch the glue before it has the chance to dry. Try to scoop up as much of it as you can with a spoon. Don’t smear the stuff either, lest it sink deeper into your leather. Use a slightly damp cloth after you’ve scooped it up and blot the rest out. If it’s giving you trouble, lemon oil is an excellent tool for ridding glue with a pH friendly value that will cause your leather no harm. Dab a small amount on your glue spot, let it soak in for about five minutes, and dab it back up with a clean cloth. You should be good.
It’s best to follow this up with a cleaning to remove glue from leather entirely. Chamberlains offer a handy dandy Straight Cleaner no. 2 perfect for most leathers. Just in case though, it’s best to test any leather cleaner before you use it. Some leathers, particularly unfinished leathers (“How to Identify Types of Leather”) can respond differently to treatments. Dab a small amount of cleaner in a discreet area with a white, lint-free cloth, and let it dry. Any discoloration in your leather, excess color rub off or other effects will indicate what this leather cleaner will do to the rest of the item, so if any problems do show up, you may want to try a different treatment. A quick, albeit less potent fix to use is mild soap (“Should I Use Mild Soap on Leather?”), which may be gentler for some unfinished leathers. Although you can apply either very lightly to the affected area, it’s often aesthetically best just to clean the entire surface of the leather to avoid spotting once it dries. Even then, these spots usually fade within a week – it’s just something to be aware of. You should generally clean your leather (with mild soap or alcohol) 2-4 times a year, depending on its type and the exposure it gets. Check out our article “How Often Should I Condition Leather?” for more on that.
If your leather cleaner results turn up nicely after its test, use a clean, soft cloth to apply it in circular motions to your leather item. Spread it in thin, even layers – too much can parch your leather, and an uneven spread can cause it to dry splotchy. Remove any excess residue, and let your leather dry completely in a cool, indoors place away from sunlight and direct heat. After this leather cleaning, your leather will have been sapped of many natural oils it needs to remain healthy, which you will want to restore with a leather conditioner, such as Chamberlain’s Leather Care Liniment no. 1.
Drink Your Milk
Same deal with leather cleaners – always test your leather conditioner before you use it, using the same method as before. If it turns up alright, give it to your leather with similar circular, thin and even applications. If you started this remove glue from leather process on furniture, you might try Chamberlain’s Furniture Treatment no. 5 instead, a loving concoction specially made for all your cushiony snoozing buddies. After the leather’s got an even coat, let it dry for about 15 minutes and feel the texture. If it’s soft and supple, buff off any residue and let it set in overnight before using. If still a bit dry, apply more leather conditioner as needed. (“How Much Leather Conditioner Should I Use?”).
If your glue problem is more serious, and has had time to really set in, you can try a more intense treatment with a hair dryer. Be aware: heat shrinks leather. If your leather gets too hot, it will alter your leather’s chemical structure, and permanently change it. To be on the safe side, hold your hair dryer 6-8 inches away from the leather on the lowest heat setting, and perhaps place a newspaper on top of the leather before you begin. Your goal is to soften the glue enough to pull it out. Check periodically to make sure your leather surface isn’t getting hot. After the glue has softened, repeat the steps from the beginning of this article to successfully remove glue from leather. Good luck!
Glue Be Gone
That’s how to remove glue from leather! Remember leathermancers, it’s best to keep these things from getting on your leather in the first place, so try to keep it out of situations where disaster and havoc can wreak, such as setting your purse down next to six year-old Nancy while she’s gluing paper craft animals together. Bad idea. Store it in a safe, healthy place, and you should be good. Later, gator!
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