Fixing dog scratches on leather couches (as well as other types of scratch damage) depends on two factors:
- The type of leather
- The extent of the damage
Types of Leather
Leather comes in eight basic types. These are:
- Full Grain
- Top Grain
- Split Grain
- Bonded Leather
None of these should be confused with faux leather (once called Naugahyde) which doesn’t contain any real leather at all. Full grain, top grain, and split leather are real leather and are listed here in descending order of quality. Bonded leather, nubuck, and bicast are leather products that use scrap or lesser quality leathers.
Royalin is a name-brand for a quality leather product similar to real leather that does not require breaking in. Treatment for damage to each of these types is slightly different.
The directions given below are for real leather or bonded leather. They are not applicable to any suede leather because that type of leather will absorb moisture quickly.
First Aid for Leather Scratches
The first step for any damage to full grain, top grain, split-grain (where the top surface is smooth, not suede), or bonded leather is to assess the damage. This can range from a few light scratches, such as might be caused from your dog or cat jumping on and off the furniture, or kids discovering that they can use a fingernail to draw on your leather couch, right on up through serious claw marks or even chewing.
1. Light Scratches
Lightly moisten a soft cloth so that it is damp but no water can be wrung out of it. Gently rub over the scratches. The dye in the leather will become moist and will spread into the marks. Often, this is all that will be needed.
A professional advisor from Thrifty.com warns against using milk, olive oil, or other food products, saying that leather is porous and while these products might provide an immediate fix, they can promote decay in your leather over time.
2. Deep Scratches with Surface Tearing
This repair, which is especially efficacious on bonded leather and even on faux leather, involves the use of superglue, sandpaper, and a matching leather dye. This is good when the dog was digging for his toy that got lodged in the couch cushions, the cat decided to exercise claws, or a child discovered that scissors make a better mark than fingernails.
- Clean the area around the damage with a moist, soft cloth, as for light scratches.
- Place a small amount of superglue on a flat surface such as a piece of cardboard or paper plate (do not use Styrofoam for this – superglue will melt it). Use a toothpick to apply glue to the underside of torn areas, and gently smooth the surface back down. It is important to only add small amounts of glue at a time. Let it dry.
- Lightly sand the repaired area with fine-grain sandpaper.
- Go back over the sanded area with a matching leather repair dye.
3. Deep Holes or Gouge
Similar to deep scratches but might require patching with a similar type and color of leather.
Leather furniture can be lightly cleaned with a soft brush or damp cloth depending on the leather type. It should not ever be treated with a food product or shoe polish. If you have pets, a dog couch cover will protect your expensive sofa from accidental digging, scratching or kiddy artwork.