How to Flatten Leather – 4 Simple Methods with Step by Step

Whether you’re dealing with wrinkled leather clothing, a leather purse, or just a big roll of stock leather that has been stored for too long, getting it smooth and straight can be tough. It can even be harder when you’re unsure what type of leather material you’re handling and you risk damaging the leather. In this article, we’ll be talking about different preferred methods you can use to flatten and straighten any leather material.

Can you iron leather to flatten it?

We strongly discourage you from using a traditional iron or any tool that gives off harsh and direct heat when trying to flatten leather. However, if you are out of options and you want to do it quickly, you should set your iron to the lowest heat or use a steam iron and do it as fast as you can.

How long will it take to flatten stored leather?

It depends on the size of the stock leather. It also depends on how thick the material is and the climate you’re storing it. Different types of leather will dry at different speeds so just be patient and don’t rush the process to avoid accidentally damaging the material. Using the methods, we’ll mention below, it should take more or less 24 hours to flatten stored leather.

How to flatten and straighten leather

Leather isn’t really made to be ironed out, and if you can, you should avoid using iron when trying to straighten and flatten it. If you want to get rid of the bent or wrinkled parts of your leather material, you should first know the basics and which methods are leather-friendly. Below are some of the methods you can choose from depending on the type of leather material:

Pulling and hanging – for faux and real leather including suede

This is pretty much the easiest way to get rid of creases on your leather item. This works well for smaller pieces like your leather pants and leather jackets. If you want to unwrinkle a large piece of stock leather, then this method might be difficult as you will only be using a sturdy hanger. However, you can also use a clothesline for bigger leather pieces.

Things you will need:

Steps:

  1. Find a hanger that is sturdy enough to carry the weight of your leather item. It’s better if it’s padded to avoid leaving stress marks and creases on the shoulder line when it’s hanging for hours.
  2. Make sure that the leather is hanging at its full length and it’s not folded at the edge.
  3. Hang the leather garment somewhere sturdy and can withstand the force when you’re pulling it down.
  4. Use your hands to lightly pull on the leather to relax the wrinkled area. Find the spot with the most creases and pull in opposite directions (top and bottom).
  5. Remember not to pull too hard and too long. Only do it for 3-5 seconds for each spot.
  6. Leave it hanging in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and heat.
  7. If there are larger creases that you can’t remove using this method, you may use the other methods we’ll mention below.

Ironing – for real leather

If you want to try ironing leather, the process is pretty similar to how you would iron regular clothes, but with a few extra steps. First, always make sure the iron is at its lowest temperature setting and place a piece of paper or large cloth on top of the leather. The fabric will act as a layer of protection between the steam and the leather to prevent any damage to the material.

Important to remember

  • Iron carefully without pressing too hard. Do it in a circular motion for about 15 seconds and check on the leather material each time.
  • Make sure you have a spacious flat surface or an ironing board for this method to flatten the material out properly.
  • Even with a protective barrier, there is still a possibility that the heat from the iron will damage the dyes and protective layer of your leather item– especially with faux leather.

Steaming – for faux and real leather

This is a better alternative than using iron directly on your leather material even with a cloth or paper barrier. You’ll need a steam iron for this method and some pieces of fabric that you’re no longer using. The steam will help soften the leather material so you can smoothen it out easily. Just make sure to set the steam iron to its lowest temperature setting. Avoid using this wrinkled leather that can’t be wet like suede or nubuck.

Things you will need:

Step:

  1. Turn your steamer on to the lowest setting and allow it to fully heat up.
  2. Hang up your leather garment so the steam will work better as the item’s natural weight will help pull it down.
  3. Apply the steam evenly on the leather surface, both inside and outside. Hold the steamer about 4 inches away and don’t let it linger there for more than 3 seconds.
  4. You can also aid the process by tugging on the leather material gently to promote straightening.
  5. If there is any condensation or excess moisture on your leather item, blot it off using a dry microfiber cloth.
  6. Apply a leather conditioner on the item once you’re done.

Tips and extra information:

  • If you don’t have a steam iron, you can just hang your leather garment on a sturdy hanger and bring it with you to the bathroom when you’re showering. The steam in there will also help to soften and smoothen the item. Just avoid getting it too close to the water as it can cause staining.

Cutting it into smaller pieces – for all types of leather

This method is perfect if you’re trying to work with a large stock of leather that has been rolled while stored for a long time. If you’re having a hard time flattening large cuts of leather, it might be smarter to just cut it up into smaller pieces. All you need to do is place weights on its corners so it lays flat on the surface.

Cut the pieces according to your template; if the leather pieces are small enough, they should become flat enough and unaffected by the roll in the stock leather. For obvious reasons, this method will not work on leather garments that are already sewn together such as leather bags, jackets, pants, and leather sofas.

For vegetable-tanned leather

Vegetable-tanned leather is more susceptible to discoloration, so if you want to straighten it, you will need to avoid using steam or heat. Aside from being prone to discoloration, it is also not water or scratch-resistant so you should be extra careful when trying to flatten or remove creases.

Your best option when dealing with wrinkled vegetable-tanned leather is to hang it. You can also use olive oil and neatsfoot oil to soften the material before pulling lightly on it to remove the wrinkles on the surface.

Conclusion

Wrinkles in your leather garment or stock leather are unsightly and can ruin the overall aesthetic of the item. You need to make sure that you store the leather item properly to avoid creases and wrinkles the next time you’re using it. Even if leather is a durable material, it is not immune to peeling caused by creases and wrinkles. We hope that this article helped you in figuring out how to flatten and straighten leather easier.

FAQ

Can you smooth out leather?

Yes, you can smooth out leather using different types of methods. As a general step, you should make sure that you know what type of leather you have. For real and faux leather, you can use steam to soften the material, but this isn’t the case for suede and nubuck that can’t get wet. You can also smooth out leather by dampening it using a spray bottle and water. Just make sure to wipe the excess moisture after.

Can you press wrinkles out of leather?

Yes, you can use weighted and flat items to press the wrinkles out of your leather. You can use large and heavy books or a flat and clean piece of wood to do this. Leave these for a couple of hours or overnight with the leather flat and depending on the thickness of the material and how wrinkled it is.

Does boiling water make leather hard?

A lot of people who want to stiffen or harden their leather will boil their leather in hot water. The material will darken and stretch in the first 2 minutes of getting in contact with boiling water. By doing this, you can easily manipulate the leather and change its shape according to how you like it. Just be cautious because water-hardened leather is more brittle and will shrink in size.