How to Remove Dog Nail Scratches from a Leather Sofa

Picture of a dog on a leather sofa

Dogs are natural foragers. With a sense of smell that is up to 100,000 times more powerful than our own, they are capable of detecting even the most minute treat particle or toy lodged in between your couch cushions which they then become intent on unearthing. If the sofas in your home are made of high quality leather, this invariably means the surface of the material is going to become scratched, marring its appearance, and in some cases, reducing the life expectancy of the couch. If your dog fancies himself a Picasso and has used his nails to etch his own unique “artwork” into the seats of your leather sofa, is there a way to safely remove these scratches and restore your couch to its former glory?

Some Important Considerations in Repairing Leather

If your leather sofa is bearing signs of wear and tear courtesy of your dog’s nails, you may be wondering if it’s possible to fix this problem. Whether or not scratches can be removed from the surface of leather depends on the type of leather and the extent of the damage from your dog’s nails. In most cases, nail scratches on leather can be repaired or at the very least greatly reduced to improve the look of your couch.

Among the types of leather sofas are commonly constructed of are:

  • Royalin
  • Bi-cast
  • Nubuck
  • Top grain
  • Split grain
  • Full grain

Some couches are upholstered with a type of fake or faux leather which was once referred to as Naugahyde. This type of material is completely man made, bearing no trace of authentic leather in it. Top grain, full grain, and split grain surfaces all contain real leather in their construction with each differing in quality.

The lowest quality leather materials are bonded leather, nubuck, and bicast. These are constructed using leather that is of lesser quality or from scrap materials. The brand name Royalin refers to an exceptional quality leather covering that is like leather, but that requires no softening. Suedes are a type of leather that are subject to entirely different cleaning processes as their surface can easily become damaged by cleaners or moisture.

How to Fix Scratches from Nails in Bonded Leather

To determine if the surface of a sofa covered in bonded leather; whether full grain, top grain, or split grain can be repaired, it is important to first look at the extent of the damage to the material. Minor scratches are far more likely to be eliminated from fabric than deep gouge marks or chewing.

Here are our recommendations for repairing scratches based on the severity of the issue:

  • Light scratching

Light scratches to leather fabric are the easiest to remove. To begin the process, you will need to wet a soft cloth and remove as much moisture from it as possible, so that is only slightly damp. The cloth can then be gently massaged over the affected area. Once the scratches have been lightly lubricated, the leather dye will also moisten and begin to fill in the areas that are damaged. This simple process is sometimes all that is required for a permanent fix to this problem.

Experts agree that certain agents that can be used to repair leather are best avoided as they can result in leather decay or staining. These include milk, olive oil, and other food-based liquids.

  • Deep scratching and tears

Believe it or not, deep scratches and tears in your leather sofa can be repaired to look like new; however, the process is more complex. This method works most effectively on bonded and faux leathers. To begin the scratch and tear repair process, you will need the following items: sandpaper, super glue or crazy glue, and leather-appropriate dye to match the shade of your sofa.

Begin with a lightly moistened cloth, treating the damaged areas as you would for lightly scratched surfaces. Once this has been completed, you can then take a tiny amount of the glue and place it on a paper plate. Using a toothpick, place glue on the underside portion of the leather to be repaired and put it back in its proper position, moving your hands over it gently until it lies completely smooth. Allow the glue sufficient time for the leather to dry in place.

Once completely dry and firmly affixed in place, make use of a fine grained sandpaper to gently sand any rough edges until the previously damaged area is as smooth as possible. As a final step, the sanded sections can be treated with the leather dye for a seamless finish.

  • Gouging and holes

The process for repairing gouges and significant holes is the same as the steps required to fix deep scratches or tears. However, since gouging and holes are more substantial, it may be necessary to make use of patches of leather in the same fabric type and hue instead of simply utilizing glue to affix the leather material back into place.

Caring for Your Leather Sofas and Preventing Future Damage from Dog Nails

Keeping leather clean is a great way to ensure its appearance is always pleasing to the eye. Avoiding excess moisture when cleaning is important as liquids can be absorbed by the pores in the material, leading to staining and decay of the fabric. The best course of action for treating dirty leather is simply to make use of a brush with very soft bristles or a lightly moistened cloth to gently buff the area until the material is clean.

Because food products such as olive oil can damage leather, it is best to avoid the use of these items even though they may yield short term results. Another commonly recommended solution to cleaning leather and removing scratches is shoe polish. Experts agree that this is also something to be avoided as it can interfere with the longevity of the fabric.

As with many things, the best way to remove scratches from dog nails is to prevent them from happening in the first place. By purchasing an inexpensive couch cover, Fido can have a field day on your favorite leather couch while the fabric remains in pristine condition.

Article by Bracko Brothers
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