9 Reasons Why Leather Bubbles (Plus 4 Great Fixes)

Leather is a wonderful material if cared for and should last you years with great care. There are cases though where leather can bubble, and why does it do this?

Here Are Reasons Why Leather Bubbles:

Leather can bubble in certain circumstances which you need to be aware of.

This includes if leather is exposed to excessive moisture, dirt, pressure marks, and if the leather is bad quality. The other factors include heat and sun, and different sorts of chemical cleaners used over the leather.

We will be discussing why leather bubbles, and how you can avoid this from happening to your leather goods.

Why Does Leather Bubble?

Have you ever tried to clean your leather furniture or shoes and been dismayed to see that the cleaning process has caused the leather to bubble?

Here is how to tell you what causes this unfortunate phenomenon and how you can avoid it. Leather is a porous material. When it’s natural, leather has pores just like skin does. It absorbs moisture, and it breathes. This is one of the reasons that leather is such a durable material: because it allows water in and out of its pores, it doesn’t get damaged by excessive water or dry out too quickly.

The problem comes when you try to clean your leather without first understanding how leather works. Water is an integral part of the cleaning process, but it can cause more harm than good when misused.

To properly clean leather, you need to vacuum the piece using a soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. Then you need to take care, not to over saturate the leather with water during cleaning.

For your leather piece to retain its shape and integrity, it needs to be allowed to dry naturally after cleaning. If there’s any moisture still lingering in the pores of the leather when it dries, the piece will. Here are reasons why does leather bubbles.

Excessive Moisture

Leather can bubble for various reasons, but excess moisture is a very common culprit. When leather gets wet, it begins to absorb water. This causes the fibers and dyes in the leather to swell.

If the leather is only slightly damp, the water will evaporate, and a small amount of shrinkage occurs. However, letting your leather become too wet can cause excessive swelling and shrinkage as the water evaporates. In addition to shrinking and warping as it dries, the leather’s finish may begin to crack as it dries.

This often leads to bubbles under the surface of the leather. You must take steps to avoid getting excess moisture on your leather items. Do not leave them outside during heavy rains or allow them to be exposed to large amounts of humidity for long periods.


Leather bubbles when it’s dirty. Dirt can get into the pores of the leather, which causes bubbles to form on the surface. Those bubbles often look like blisters that fill with fluid or pus.

You can get rid of these blisters by cleaning your leather jacket or bag, but you’ll need to treat it with a leather-safe soap and conditioner. Dirt isn’t the only thing that can cause the leather to bubble: If you spill something oily on your jacket or bag, it will sink into the pores and create bubbles.

To prevent this from happening in the future, use a leather-safe conditioner after cleaning. This will protect the material from absorbing more oils that could ruin its surface over time.

Pressure Marks

There are many reasons why leather can end up bubbling, but one of the most common is pressure marks. Pressure marks are caused by anything that places pressure on the leather for an extended period. This can be from a book, a heavy object, or even sitting on the leather for too long.

The pressure from these objects causes the fibers in the leather to crack and break down over time. If you look closely at your leather, you might even be able to see tiny cracks forming in it. You’ll also notice bubbles forming where this pressure has damaged the fibers.

If you catch these pressure marks early enough, they can be fixed by a professional repair person. If they’re not caught early enough, they can cause permanent damage that cannot be undone.

Bad Quality Leather

Leather bubbling is caused by poor leather quality, inferior tanning methods, and rough handling. Using the wrong kind of leather for the intended purpose can cause this problem, as can not sufficiently treating it during production.

Suppose the leather is not processed correctly or lower-quality processes are applied to higher-quality leathers. The resulting material will be weak, stiff, or otherwise poorly suited to its function.

The best way to avoid this problem is to ensure you’re using good quality leather and purchasing from a reputable manufacturer who uses proper tanning techniques.

Chemical Cleaners

Leather, a durable and versatile material, is used in many products. However, when leather is exposed to moisture and heat, it can bubble.

This occurs when the leather fibers swell and stretch to form bubbles on the surface. In addition to natural causes like humidity and heat, leather can also be damaged by chemical cleaners.

These cleaners often contain harsh chemicals that degrade the leather fibers, causing bubbles to appear on the surface of the material. This can be seen in upholstery, shoes, and accessories.

Excessive Cleaning Over Leather

Excessive cleaning or washing of leather is one of the most common reasons for leather bubbles. This problem is widespread in the case of leather upholstery because people tend to clean their upholstery more often than any other item made of leather.

The main reason why cleaning and washing over leather cause bubbling are because it destroys the material’s natural oils and waxes. Some natural oils and resins are present on your skin when you wash your hands, which get removed after cleaning. Similarly, the same thing happens with leather when cleaned or washed excessively.

The natural oils and waxes present on its surface get removed after washing.


Leather can bubble due to exposure to excessive sun.

Exposure to extreme heat causes the fibers in leather, which are protein-based, to contract. When leather is exposed to sunlight or other intense heat, such as a hot car or house during summer, the heat will cause the fibers to contract and draw together. If a piece of leather is not stretched out during this process, it will dry out and crack.

The best way to prevent the leather from bubbling is to stretch it out before putting it away in storage. A simple way to do this is with a piece of an elastic band. Stretch out the leather by pulling the two ends of the elastic band around it until they touch each other.

Then, secure the ends to touch each other and pull on them gently until they are at least 6 inches apart (or whatever distance you want). This will ensure that your leather does not bubble when stored away for long periods.


It is a mistake to think that leather only deforms or damages when subjected to excessive heat. While extreme heat has adverse effects on leather and can cause it to bubble, the best way to prevent this is to understand why it occurs in the first place.

When heat is applied to leather, the fibers that compose the animal’s skin begin to break down at a molecular level, causing them to become soft and pliable. This allows for the bending and stretching of the material. The longer that heat is applied, the more flexible these fibers become.

Eventually, they will begin to lose their original shape, which causes bulging or bubbling in certain leather areas.


The leather bubbles because the adhesive used to hold it down is incompatible with the leather. The two most common types of adhesive are water-based and solvent-based adhesives.

The water-based adhesive creates an evident, invisible bond when it dries. In contrast, the solvent-based adhesive creates a stronger and more durable bond that can withstand more significant stresses over time. The problem with using a water-based adhesive on leather is that it contains a considerable amount of alcohol or other solvents, which are not always listed on the label.

These solvents evaporate during drying, leaving behind an uneven surface for glueing. Since leather absorbs water more easily than other materials, this causes the surface to become irregular and then starts bubbling up.

Ways To Fix Bubbling On Your Leather?

Many people are attracted to the smooth, luxurious shine of the leather. However, the surface of the leather is prone to bubbling, which a variety of factors can cause. If you want to restore your leather to its original luster, it’s essential to know how to fix bubbles in your leather.

Use Something Heavy

If you have a leather piece that is bubbled, the first thing to try is to bound it with something heavy. If the bubbles are in a place where it would be hard to bind with weights, place them on top of the piece instead.

The next step is to use something heavy, like books or bricks, to help flatten out the leather. If you have trouble finding something serious enough for this purpose, try using a small stool or table instead.

Use Heat and Cold Pressure

The heat and cold pressure method is one of the quickest and most effective ways to remove bubbling in leather. You need a few sheets of wax paper, a hot iron, and a heavy object.

You’ll start by placing your leather item between two sheets of wax paper, then putting it on an ironing board or flat surface that can withstand hot temperatures.

Place the hot iron on the wax paper, allowing it to rest there for about 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, place a heavy object on the iron to apply some pressure. After repeating this process once or twice, the bubbling should be gone.

Use Steam

Steam can be a great way to remove the bubbles that form on leather. It’s inexpensive, easy, and can be done at home. Start by filling a bucket with hot water.

Be sure the bucket is large enough to hold the item you want to fix. Dip a towel into the water and wring it out. Place the wet towel onto your leather item and let it sit for about ten minutes. The steam from the towel should help to “cure” your leather item, making it more flexible so that you can quickly smooth out any bubbling that may have occurred.

Use a Popping Tool

A popping tool looks like a little T-shaped tool with a long handle and a tiny, short prong at the top. The popping tool is designed to fit into the bubbling leather, allowing you to push the bubble up from underneath.

Gently push the popping tool into the bubble, and move it around slightly so that it can pop out any air pockets in the leather.

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