Does water ruin leather: What happens when leather gets wet?

Leather is a must-have nowadays. It is one of the most luxurious materials. The use of leather to make final products has only increased from clothes and furniture to accessories and many more materials. Every category has something to offer in leather. Leather has many benefits. It has a luxurious look and a natural shine, making everyone want to have something leather in their wardrobes or houses. Owning leather is a great thing as long as you are aware of how to maintain it. Certain things can harm your leather, and one of these is water. Something as common as water can bring ruin to your precious leather.

Can Water Ruin Leather?

The very simple answer to this question is yes. Water can and does ruin leather. Here are some ways water can ruin leather;

Dry Out Oils

Leather has certain oils in it. These oils give the leather its look and durability. When water gets onto leather and leather gets wet, the water molecules bind to the oils of the leather. When the water evaporates, the molecules bonded to the oils also start to evaporate. This results in the oil molecules also drying out along with the water. Due to this, the leather can lose its natural shine and gloss because of the oils drying out. The leather can also become stiff as the oils making the leather durable are no longer present.

Stains and Spots

Moreover, water can stain the leather. If the leather stays wet for a long, the water will start drying out the color of the leather and can even lead to the rotting of that area. This can damage your leather permanently. This can also leave permanent marks and spots on your leather as the area that is affected by the water will have a completely different

Natural dyes

It can also take away the natural dyes of the leather. When the dyes fade away, the color of the leather will become dull, and the affected area will look different from the area that is not affected.


Another problem is that if the leather is left submerged in water for a long, mold can grow on it. The mold only needs a chance to start. Once it starts, it will completely take over your entire leather.

Damage Coating

The coating acts as a protector of the leather, but if the leather is left to come in contact with water continuously, then this coating will get damaged. Once the coating gets damaged, there will no longer be a layer to protect the leather. This will result in the leather coming into contact with the water and getting ruined.


Leather can shrink due to water. The leather fibers are held together due to proteins. These proteins keep the leather fibers together, which gives the leather its shape. If the leather gets wet, these fibers absorb air when drying out. This will no longer keep the fibers together, and the leather will crack and get ruined.


Leather is an extremely versatile material. This is why it is highly popular. This means that if the leather can shrink when wet, it can also stretch. In the same way leather shrinks, it can also stretch if it comes into contact with water. The shrinking and the stretching depend on how long the leather was in contact with the water.

Bad Odor

Another disadvantage of getting your leather wet is that it can cause your leather to smell. Leather has its natural, earthy smell. If it gets wet, however, it no longer has the earthy smell. The leather starts smelling rotten.

What to Do if Leather Gets Wet?

Letting your leather get wet is not a great idea, but if such a situation occurs, the most important thing to do is to act as fast as possible. If the water stays on your leather for a long time, it can cause permanent damage to your leather. This can then not be undone. So, it is best to be as fast as possible and treat the leather quickly.

Here are some things you should do if your leather gets wet;

Dry the leather

The first and easiest thing you can do is to try your leather as soon as possible. This will prevent the water from doing prolonged damage, and you might even get away scathe free. It would be best if you got your hand on a dry sponge or a good quality cloth. Gently use one of the two materials mentioned in the affected area. Dry so that the material absorbs the water and does not spread further.

Clean the leather

The next step is to clean the leather surface. The best way to clean your leather is to use a leather cleaner, but if you do not have it with you, you can now use dish soap. Take a soft cloth and apply the dish soap to the cloth. Once the lather appears, apply the cloth gently on the surface of the leather. Use it on the entire surface along with the affected area. This will ensure that no spots or marks are left on the leather. This will also help remove any excess dirt or grime from your leather. Rinse the cloth and use it on the leather to remove the lather.

Air dry

Once you have cleaned the soap off the leather, please leave it to air dry. This will help the leather dry naturally and prevent any more marks or spots from being left on it.

Leather conditioner

Once the wet area has been dried out completely with the soft cloth or sponge, you will need a toothbrush with soft bristles and leather conditioner. Apply the conditioner to the leather surface and gently use the toothbrush to rub it on the affected area. This will help clean the leather and also help in bringing the oils and natural shine back to the leather.

To keep your leather shiny and as good as new, keep it as away from water as possible, as water can ruin it! 

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