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How to Distress Leather

Mamta Mule Jun 22, 2019
There's nothing like sporting a distressed leather accessory to channel a punk-rock vibe that is reminiscent of the '80s. To distress leather, we show you how to perform this simple at-home procedure, within minutes.
Distressed leather is more appealing than regular leather, believe it or not, where its worn, beaten appearance is what makes it look so ruggedly hot. It carries a sandy display of varying shades of brown that streak across its surface, where the leather accessory is usually a rich brown that is distressed to give it its bad-boy (or girl) appeal.
Let's take a look at a ludicrously easy way to distress leather, using household products that won't cost you much if they need to be bought.

How to Distress Leather

Rubbing with Alcohol

Use any kind of alcohol (vodka, rum, you name it) you have, to distress the fabric; take a piece of cloth and dampen it lightly with the alcohol, gently rubbing it into the leather.
Using a dabbing motion, cover the entire surface of what you're trying to distress, whether it's a leather jacket, handbag, skirt, pair of boots or pants. Do not saturate the fabric with alcohol in one go, or it'll take time to dry and may ruin it. Once the entire fabric is coated, perform the next step.


Gather the material carefully in your fists and give it a squeeze, repeating this for different sections of the fabric. Keep scrunching the fabric, massaging it, so that creases are effectively worked into it.

Further Distressing If Required

Using a bristled brush, rub the leather item using medium-pressure so that it further distresses the material to give it its final distressed look; to give it an even more aged appeal, you can use sandpaper to gently roughen the surface.
Don't overdo the process since it can leave behind a not-so-valuable accessory, post distressing. If the scrunching from the previous step gives you the look you desire, stop right there; if you wish to further distress it, then just brush it.
Also, sand-papering the fabric will further distress it, so evaluate just how worn out you want the leather to look, after every step.

How to Care for a Distressed Leather Accessory

After putting it through adequate 'stress', you'll want to maintain your leather accessory by being careful of how you treat it; if you simply must wash it, we suggest asking a dry-cleaning company on how to clean it without causing damage to the leather. Tell them about how you distressed it and see what they have to say.
A simple procedure involves using a soft cloth to gently wipe away any stains or dust, where it would be wise to avoid dropping anything on it that can cause severe staining like paint, nail polish, and similar heavy-duty liquids and foods.