The first time I say air pockets or bubbles on my leather was on my first-ever leather purse. I was so disappointed and when I went online to find out why this happens, I found a lot of people asking the same question, and I could not relate to the answers some of the blogs provided.
So I dug deeper and made some calls to some leather care and repair experts and I’m excited to share with you what I found out and what these awesome guys volunteered to tell me.
So, why do leather bubble or form air pockets? Leather will bubble or have air pockets due to the following reasons below;
- Body Oil Build Up Can Cause Bubbles On Leather
- Using Harsh Cleaning Products On The Leather
- Constant Wetness Or Moisture On The Leather
- High Humidity Levels Can Cause The Leather To Bubble
- Cleaning The Leather Too Frequently
- High Temperatures Can Cause The Leather To Bubble
- Synthetic, Bonded Leather, Or Very Thin Leather Will Bubble
- Type Of Adhesive Used
- Dents Or Pressure Marks
- Dirt Build Up Can Cause Leather Bubbles Or Air Pockets
Leather bubbles are a pretty common problem for many people who buy leather products. It is not just an aesthetic issue, but can also affect the durability of your leather goods.
In the remaining parts of this article, I will discuss the details on why leather bubbles or forms air pockets, effective ways to remove the leather bubbles, and tips on how to prevent it from happening to your leather purchases.
Here’s Why Leather Bubbles Or Form Air Pockets
1. Body Oil Build Up Can Cause Bubbles On Leather
This is the most common reason why people see bubbles or air pockets on their leather goods. As you use your leather products, body oil and natural sebum from your skin will get absorbed by the top layers of the leather material.
If this gets left for too long without cleaning it can cause a chemical reaction in which that oil drys up to form a layer or film on top of your leather product. This oil can often times cause air pockets, by pushing the other layers away from it and form small bubbles.
The leather most likely to be affected by this problem is the one found on handbags, wallets, leather car seats, leather armrests, headrests, and shoes.
This is because these leathers are made from thinner leather materials and at the same time they receive a lot of direct body contact with our bare skin.
The oils produced by our body can seep into the fibers of the leather of any product through contact, friction, or even simply just being in close proximity to us.
These oils are what cause your leather goods to form air pockets. This is why you see some people using mink oil on their products or a leather conditioner.
2. Using Harsh Cleaning Products On The Leather
This is another common reason why some people see bubbles or air pockets on their leather goods.
By harsh cleaners, I mean leather cleaning products that are not pH appropriate for leather or cleaners that have too high of a pH level.
A cleaner with too high of a pH will damage the fibers in your leather products and cause them to bubble, stretch, crack, dry out, fade, become brittle, harden up or even fall apart.
When you use harsh cleaning products to clean your leather product, it can affect the integrity of the leather layers and cause them to separate from each other which results in the formation of those pesky little bubbles that ruin the look of your favorite leather purse, seats, or shoes.
3. Constant Wetness Or Moisture On The Leather
It is a fact that moisture or wetness can be one of the main reasons why some people see bubbles on their leather goods.
Constant exposure to water, sweat from our body, and the environment, in general, will cause damage to your leather product over time through absorption into its fibers.
The constant contact with dampness or moistures even while drying also contributes to this reason for bubble formation.
When you let any part of your leather products get constantly exposed to moisture, they lose flexibility and become prone not just to air pockets but other issues such as color fading.
The best way to deal with this causative factor is to take care of your leather products by drying them off after use and using a moisturizer or conditioner on them.
4. High Humidity Levels Can Cause The Leather To Bubble
A common reason why people see bubbles or air pockets on their leather goods is due to the high humidity in the room or place when the leather item is stored. Humidity levels up to 70% are considered to be normal for a leather product.
However, humidity levels of over 70% can cause problems with the moisture absorption and retention properties of your leather goods.
The air pockets form when the humidity is not balanced with adequate ventilation. This causes an imbalance in the properties of moisture and this is what causes the leather to bubble.
High humidity will cause mold growth which can seep into its fibers causing it to stretch out and form those unsightly little air pockets that we all despise so much.
So if you find yourself in a humid environment like near water (a beach house for example), in areas where there are frequent rainstorms or places that have higher than average humidity, then you should definitely consider using a humidity regulator to protect your leather goods from mold growth and damage due to stretching.
The best way to deal with this problem is by wiping any excess moisture or perspiration off your products right after you use them. You can also leave your leather goods open so it will dry faster and ventilate the area by using an air conditioner or fan. Or you can store your leather goods in a dry room or closet with little humidity.
5. Cleaning The Leather Too Frequently
If you’re OCD like me then you might be guilty of cleaning your precious leather items too frequently.
While you might think you’re giving your leather items the tender loving care they deserve, you’re definitely hurting your leather items when you clean or condition it more than necessary.
So how often is too frequent when it comes to cleaning your leather item? Well, most leather goods manufacturers recommend cleaning your items at least once every 2-3 months.
However, if you wear makeup or use hair products on your skin which is visible on your leather item then you should consider cleaning it a little more often like once a month.
This way, you will be treading cautiously and would not cause any damage to your leather product.
The best way to deal with this problem is by cleaning your items every two months at most and only when necessary.
6. High Temperatures Can Cause The Leather To Bubble
If you go a little overboard and expose your leather product to higher temperatures for prolonged periods of time then you might end up with a bubble or air pocket problem.
In the case that your leather product has been exposed to high temperatures like in a hot car trunk or in the interior of your car, you can either let it cool off gradually (and naturally) and then use leather wipes to wipe its surface and then condition it.
If your car or the place where the leather is store is well protected from direct sun and other heat sources then you might not have to do anything about your product.
However, if you’ve already started to notice the texture and luster of your leather changing for the worse then it’s probably time to start thinking about conditioning it with a high-quality leather conditioner.
The best way to prevent any of this in the first place is to store your leather goods in a cool, dry place away from direct exposure to sunlight or temperature sources.
7. Synthetic, Bonded Leather, Or Very Thin Leather Will Bubble
Another thing that you should consider before buying leather goods is how durable the material actually is.
Some types of leather are more durable than others and can withstand certain elements than other leather types cannot.
For example, you should avoid buying faux leather products if you live in areas with higher humidity because it tends to stretch out over time. In some cases, faux leather may have a tendency to bubble or form air pockets.
Also, do not go the bonded leather route as this is one of the worse types of leather you could possibly buy. This type is made from scraps and can wear down easily over time, especially with constant use – and is the easiest to give in to leather bubbles.
Leather that is also very thin is likely to have air pockets or bubbles than leather that is thicker or more durable.
In this case, you should consider buying leather products from a reputable brand that uses high-quality materials and has been tested to withstand environmental factors.
So as far as the type of leather goes, you would want to make sure you choose the right leather material for your lifestyle and surroundings.
8. Type Of Adhesive Used
Adhesives play a major role in the construction of leather items. So the type of adhesive manufacturers pick out to assemble a particular product can make or break its durability.
For example, some manufacturers use low-quality adhesives that weaken and peel off easily over time exposing the leather to air pockets, bubbles, and other damages.
If you already have a product like this it’s best to take advantage of leather repair techniques (like adding patches) that would help reinforce the existing adhesive.
This way, you can prevent further damage to your product and increase its lifespan by several years in some cases depending on how old or new your leather item is.
Other conditions like extreme heat, moisture, or humidity can also contribute to the weakening of the glue cause large bubbles to appear on your leather items like hand rests, headrests, car seats, etc – especially when the glue used is not of great quality.
The best way to avoid this problem is by reading reviews and buying only from reputable companies that specialize in high-quality leather goods.
9. Dents Or Pressure Marks
If you have been leaving sharp heavy objects on the surface of your leather items for extended periods of time then you might end up with dents or pressure marks that will turn into bubbles and air pockets.
This is because when the leather flexes and stretches, it has a difficult time returning to its original shape.
These kinds of marks are most common on car seats, couches, and other large pieces that usually receive the brunt of pressure when it’s in use.
That’s why it’s always best to place lighter objects on your leather goods and avoid putting large items with sharp edges that could put a lot of pressure on your leather.
10. Dirt Build Up Can Cause Leather Bubbles Or Air Pockets
Interestingly enough, dirt buildup can also cause your leather to bubble or form air pockets.
This is because when the tiny holes on the surface of leather are clogged, it is unable to release heat and moisture. This can cause the leather to expand over time which will lead to air pockets.
So, in order to avoid this problem, it’s best not to leave your leather items dirty for very long periods of time.
Neither should you over-condition your leather goods as all of these could clog the pores of the leather and result in it bubbling or forming air pockets.
How To Fix Leather Bubbles Or Air Pockets From Leather
To remove leather bubblers or air pockets from your leather items, there are a few tips and tricks I learned that tend to work wonders in getting rid of leather air pockets or leather bubbles. Let’s take a look at the first method!
Method 1: Applying Pressure To The Air Pockets Or Bubbled Leather
One of the most common ways to remove bubbled leather is by applying pressure on it. This method is best used for cases where the air pockets are not too severe and you can still feel some flexibility in your leather product.
Steps To Follow:
- Dampened the surface of the leather where the bubbles or air pockets are.
- Then simply apply pressure on the air pockets with your hands.
- The heat and moisture in your skin works to soften up the leather, allowing it to release all of the trapped air.
- The best way to do this is by using your hands and applying pressure on the area with your palms or fingers for about 30 seconds to a minute.
- Or in the case of a flat leather surface, place heavy books on the bubbles and leave it to sit for a few hours to a day. The longer the better.
- Make sure the leather dry and then apply a leather conditioner.
- Once you’re satisfied, buff the surface of the leather with a microfiber cloth and the trapped air should disappear.
Method 2: Applying Heat And Pressure To The Leather Bubbles
The second method is similar to the first one, but instead of using your hands, you will be using a hairdryer. This method works best for more severe air pockets and bubbles that have formed on your leather items. This method involves two main steps;
Methods To Follow:
- Start by lightly dampening the surface where the bubbles are with clean ordinary water using a wet towel or paper towels.
- This will soften up your leather and make it easier to release the trapped air.
- After dampening the surface of the leather, apply heat to the area using a hairdryer on a low setting.
- Do not turn up the heat too high as you could risk damaging your leather goods by causing it to dry out.
- Heating up the leather surface will allow the natural pores of the leather to open so that the trapped air will quickly escape.
- Once the surface of the leather is nice and warm apply pressure using a rolling pin (in the case of hard or firm leather surfaces) or use a cold iron to press down on the bubbles or air pockets.
- You can also put some heavy books on the heated surface and give it about a minute.
- You can also use a smooth object with a curved surface to apply pressure on the bubbled area of your leather goods.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 till you’re satisfied with the effect you’re after and then leave the leather to air-dry.
- Apply a leather conditioner and leave it to air dry before you use it.
Method 3: Deflate The Air Pocket or Leather Bubble
If all the above methods fail, you can resort to your very first intuition which is to burst that bubble.
Steps To Follow:
- Dampen the surface of the leather with clean water. Dampen, do not make your leather soo wet.
- Using a very sharp pin, prick the air pocket or leather bubble that you want to deflate.
- Make sure the needle is new so that it punches a very tiny hole in the leather.
- Set your hair dryer to the lowest heat setting and apply the heat over the surface of the leather. While doing this, hold the area that you have just pricked with one hand and then use your other hand to slowly deflate it.
- Once the air is completely out, apply pressure with your hand, a roller, a curved smooth surface, or heavy books.
- Repeat the process until the surface of your leather is completely leveled and flat.
- Leave the leather to dry and apply your leather conditioner. Congrats You Nailed It!
Tips On How To Prevent Leather Bubbles Or Air Pockets From Leather
- Always condition your leather items after every cleaning and avoid wetting your leather with too much water in the process.
- Prolong the drying process of leather as much as possible and always air dry.
- Do not allow dirt to build up on the surface of your leather items. Have a cleaning routine and stick to it.
- Always use a leather conditioner after every cleaning.
- Do not allow body oils to buildup on leather surfaces. Especially on leather items that has a lot of direct body contact.
- Always use pH balanced products for your leather items. Do not use something that is too acidic or too alkaline as this can make the problem worse.
- Use a dehumidifier if you live in a place where humidity levels are high most of the time.
- Avoid storing your leather goods in places with extreme temperatures.
- Go for high-quality leather goods if you can afford it.
- Do not put sharp or pointed objects on your leather surface like car seats and sofas as this can leave behind pressure marks.