How Do You Distress Leather?

To distress leather, bend and flex it to create wrinkles, rub alcohol into the creases, and lightly sand the tops of the wrinkles. Try kicking the leather around in dirt, and then rubbing dark shoe polish into the distressed areas to create an aged, worn look.

  1. Create wrinkles

    Bend and flex the leather in different directions, creating wrinkles in various shapes and sizes across the surface of the leather.

  2. Apply rubbing alcohol

    Use a cotton pad to apply a thin layer of rubbing alcohol to the top of the leather. You can also apply an alcohol-based leather cleaner. Focus on the wrinkles and creases, and rub the alcohol into the leather. Work the leather by kneading and stretching it.

  3. Sand the wrinkles

    With a piece of fine-grit sandpaper, lightly sand the surface of the raised areas of the leather.

  4. Kick it around

    Take the leather outside, and toss it around in the dirt. Step on it, and kick it. When finished, clean off the leather with a cotton cloth.

  5. Stain the leather

    Using a cotton cloth, wipe dark shoe polish over the surface of the leather. Dip a cotton swab in the shoe polish, and work it into the sanded and distressed areas.

  6. Polish the leather

    Once the shoe polish has dried, use a clean cotton cloth to buff the surface of the leather and give it a slight sheen.