Guides and Tips

Best Ways to Remove Stains from Leather

May 19, 2023
Best Ways to Remove Stains from Leather

We’ve all been there: you finally get your hands on that gorgeous leather jacket, or those perfect leather boots, and before you know it, a stain appears out of nowhere. 

But don’t worry, with the right tools and techniques, that stain can be a thing of the past! 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the different types of stains that can affect leather and show you how to remove them like a pro. Let’s now explore the best ways to keep your leather looking its best!

What are the different types of stains on leather?

What are the different types of stains on leather

Leather can be stained by various substances, and the type of stain will determine the appropriate cleaning method. Here are the different types of stains that can affect leather:

Stain TypesDescription
Water StainsWater stains occur when water droplets leave a mark on the surface of the leather, especially if the water contains impurities. These can appear as a darker spot or a light ring.
Grease StainsGrease stains on leather are caused by oil-based substances such as food, cosmetics, and lotions. These stains are often dark and can be difficult to remove.
Deicing Salt StainsDuring winter, deicing salts are used on roads and sidewalks, and the residue can end up on leather shoes and boots. The salt can cause white stains on the leather, and if left unattended, it can cause long-term damage.
Dark StainsDark stains on leather can be caused by ink, dye, or other substances that leave a deep-colored spot on the leather surface. These stains can be tough to remove and may require professional cleaning services.

What are the materials needed for removing stains from leather?

What are the materials needed for removing stains from leather

When removing stains from leather, it’s important to have the right tools to avoid further damage. These are the tools you will need:

ToolsDescription
Soft-bristled brushUsed to gently scrub off dirt and grime from the leather surface without causing scratches or abrasions
White vinegarMixed with distilled water, it can be used to remove water stains and other light stains.
Distilled waterUsed to dilute cleaning solutions and avoid damaging the leather’s natural oils
Clean, dry towelUsed to blot excess moisture or cleaning solutions during the cleaning process.
Leather conditionerApplied after cleaning to restore the leather’s natural oils and prevent cracking or drying out
Rubbing alcoholUsed to remove ink and other stubborn stains from leather
Cotton ballsUsed to apply rubbing alcohol or cleaning solutions to specific spots or areas
EraserUsed to remove surface dirt and stains on leather, particularly suede or nubuck leather
Leather cleanersSpecially formulated products designed to remove stains and dirt from leather without damaging it

Examples:
1. Chemical Guys Leather Cleaner
2. Leather Honey Leather Cleaner
3. Chamberlain’s Leather Milk Leather Cleaner
4. Lexol Leather Cleaner
5. TriNova Leather Cleaner

What are products to avoid using on leather?

What are products to avoid using on leather

While there are many products on the market that claim to clean and protect leather, some can actually do more harm than good. Here are some products to avoid using on leather:

ProductsWhy
Harsh chemicals, such as bleach or ammoniaThese can damage the leather’s finish and cause discoloration.
Household cleaners, such as furniture polish or glass cleanersThese can also damage the leather’s finish and cause discoloration.
Oil-based products, such as mink oil or saddle soapThese can darken the leather and attract dirt and dust.
WaterThis should be used sparingly on leather, as excessive exposure to moisture can cause the leather to warp or crack.

To keep your leather looking its best, stick to leather-specific cleaners and conditioners.

How to Remove Water Stains from Leather

How to Remove Water Stains from Leather

Water stains on leather can be unsightly, but they can be removed with the right materials and techniques. Here are the steps to remove water stains from leather:

DifficultyEasy
Number of steps5
Time needed30-60 minutes
Things you needDistilled water, white vinegar, soft cloth, leather conditioner
  1. Prepare a mixture of distilled water and white vinegar in equal parts.
  2. Dampen a soft cloth in the solution and wring it out. 
  3. Gently wipe the affected area in a circular motion with the damp cloth.
  4. Let the leather dry completely.
  5. Apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and prevent further damage.

If the water stain is still visible, repeat the process or seek professional cleaning services.

How to Remove Grease Stains from Leather

How to Remove Grease Stains from Leather

Removing grease stains on leather can be a daunting task, but with a little bit of patience and know-how, you can effectively tackle even the most stubborn grease stains on your leather items. Here are the steps to remove grease stains from leather:

DifficultyEasy
Number of steps6
Time neededSeveral hours or overnight
Things you needClean and dry cloth, cornstarch or talcum powder, soft-bristled brush, rubbing alcohol, leather conditioner
  1. Blot the grease stain with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess grease.
  2. Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch or talcum powder on the stain and let it sit for several hours or overnight.
  3. Use a brush with soft bristles to remove the powder.
  4. Moisten a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stain.
  5. Let the leather dry completely.
  6. Apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and prevent further damage.

If the grease stain is still visible, repeat the process or seek professional cleaning services.

How to Remove Deicing Salt Stains from Leather

How to Remove Deicing Salt Stains from Leather

Deicing salt stains on leather can be tough to remove, and it’s important to act quickly to prevent damage. Here are the steps to remove deicing salt stains from leather:

DifficultyEasy
Number of steps5
Time needed1-2 hours
Things you needdistilled water, white vinegar, soft cloth, leather conditioner
  1. Prepare a mixture of distilled water and white vinegar in equal parts.
  2. Dampen a soft cloth in the solution and wring it out. 
  3. Gently wipe the salt stain in a circular motion.
  4. Let the leather dry completely.
  5. Apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and prevent further damage.

Repeat the process or seek professional cleaning services if the deicing salt stain is still visible.

How to Remove Dark Stains from Leather

How to Remove Dark Stains from Leather

Dark stains on leather can be challenging to remove, especially if they have set in. Here are the steps to remove dark stains from leather:

DifficultyModerate
Number of steps6
Time neededSeveral hours or overnight
Things you needLemon juice, cream of tartar, bowl, soft-bristled brush, clean cloth, distilled water, leather conditioner
  1. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and cream of tartar in a bowl to make a paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the dark stain and let it sit for several hours or overnight.
  3. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove the paste.
  4. Dampen a clean cloth with distilled water and gently wipe the area.
  5. Let the leather dry completely.
  6. Apply a leather conditioner to restore moisture and prevent further damage.

If the dark stain is still visible, repeat the process or seek professional cleaning services.

Tips for Removing Stains from Leather

Tips for Removing Stains from Leather

Here are some additional tips for removing stains from leather:

  1. Act quickly. The longer a stain sits on leather, the harder it is to remove.
  2. Test any cleaner or conditioner on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the entire stain.
  3. Use a gentle touch. Scrubbing too hard can damage the leather’s finish.
  4. Avoid excessive heat or direct sunlight, as this can cause the leather to dry out and crack.
  5. Store leather items in a cool, dry place when not in use to prevent damage from humidity or moisture.

By following these tips, you can help keep your leather looking clean and beautiful for years to come.

DIY Cleaning vs Professional Cleaning Service

DIY Cleaning vs Professional Cleaning Service

When it comes to removing stains from leather, you have two options: DIY cleaning or professional cleaning services. Here are some of their pros and cons:

Pros and Cons of DIY Cleaning

Pros

  • Cost-effective: DIY cleaning can be a more affordable option, especially for minor stains.
  • Convenience: You can clean leather items at home, without having to transport them to a professional cleaner.
  • Control: You have more control over the cleaning process and can take your time to ensure that the stain is properly removed.

Cons

  • Risk of damage: If you use the wrong product or technique, you could end up damaging the leather beyond repair.
  • Limited expertise: Unless you’re an experienced cleaner, you may not have the knowledge or tools to tackle tough stains.
  • Time-consuming: DIY cleaning can be time-consuming, especially if you’re not familiar with the process.

While DIY cleaning can be a good option for minor stains or for those who are experienced in cleaning leather, it may not be the best choice for tough stains or delicate items.

Pros and Cons of Professional Cleaning Service

Pros

  • Expertise: Professional cleaners have the knowledge and experience to safely and effectively remove tough stains from leather.
  • Specialized tools and products: Professional cleaners have access to specialized cleaning products and equipment that can’t be purchased by the average consumer.
  • Time-saving: A professional cleaning service can handle the cleaning for you, saving you time and effort.

Cons

  • Cost: Professional cleaning services can come at a higher cost than DIY cleaning.
  • Inconvenience: You may need to transport your leather items to the cleaning service and wait for them to be cleaned and returned.
  • Limited control: You may not have as much control over the cleaning process as you would with DIY cleaning.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to use DIY cleaning or a professional cleaning service will depend on the type of stain, the condition of the leather, and your personal preferences and budget.

Signs That Leather Items Cannot Be Used Anymore

Signs That Leather Items Cannot Be Used Anymore

Leather items, like any other material, can wear out over time. It’s essential to know when to give up on a stained leather item and replace it. 

Here are some signs that your leather item can no longer be used:

  1. Severe cracks: If you notice deep cracks in your leather item that can no longer be repaired, it may be time to replace it.
  2. Fading color: If the color of the leather has faded unevenly and can’t be restored, it may be time to say goodbye to it.
  3. Excessive stains: Some stains are challenging to remove, and when you have tried everything to remove them and failed, it may be time to replace the item.
  4. Unpleasant smell: If your leather item has a persistent and unpleasant smell that you can’t get rid of, it may be a sign that the leather is too old and has reached the end of its life.
  5. Loss of elasticity: If the leather has lost its elasticity and has become stiff and difficult to bend, it may be time to replace it.

Knowing when to let go of a leather item is as important as knowing how to take care of it. Replacing a leather item is not always easy, but it is better than holding on to an unusable and unsightly item.

You Might Also Like