How to Restore an Autographed Football

By Audrey Farley
Autographed footballs require special care and technique to clean and restore them.

Autographed footballs are collector’s items with potentially high value, depending on the condition of the ball and the fame of the player who signed the item. To preserve, or increase, the value of an old, worn or vintage autographed football, you can restore the item to good condition. Proper restoration requires special care to protect the signature itself, which largely determines the value of the item.

Wash your hands to remove any dirt or oils. Dry your hands completely with a microfiber cloth or towel.

Gently grasp the football in your finger tips when cleaning and restoring it, taking care not to touch any part of the signature. Even if your fingers are clean, they may ruin the quality of the signature.

Use a soft brush to remove surface dust and debris from the football, including the parts of the leather that are signed. Note: The soft brush is the only thing you can safely use directly on the signature.

Apply a proper cleaning solution to the ball around the signature, keeping at least a 1/2 inch from the ink. Use only a product specifically designed for football cleaning and restoration. Don't use water to clean the football. Water will damage the leather and the signature.

Pat dry the ball with a microfiber cloth or towel. Do not use a paper towel, which sheds fibers.

Apply a leather recoloring balm to the football to hide any fabric that is exposed due to cracks and wear. Use a balm color that best matches the color of the football. Take care not to touch the signature when applying the balm.

Tip

Preserve the restored football by applying a leather conditioner to it once a year. The conditioner will keep the leather firm and supple and prevent cracking and wear.

Keep the football in a glass display case. This will discourage anyone from handling it and protect it from household dust.

Keep the displayed football away from direct sunlight or bright overhead lighting. Light can fade the ink.

About the Author

Audrey Farley began writing professionally in 2007. She has been featured in various issues of "The Mountain Echo" and "The Messenger." Farley has a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond and a Master of Arts in English literature from Virginia Commonwealth University. She teaches English composition at a community college.