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How To Get Stains Out of Leather – Without Damaging Leather

Leather is stylish, durable, and lasts for decades with proper care; however, it can be stained by many things. Don’t worry; there are simple methods for how to get stains out of leather without damaging it — and I will provide tips and tricks to accomplish this.

How to get stains out of leather are different methods for removing dirt and soil from leather without damaging the material or its appearance. Leather gets stained for various reasons, but a pH-neutral soap and water, leather cleaner, and rubbing alcohol can help remove them. 

Do you have a leather jacket with a water stain, and you’re unsure how to remove it without damaging the material? Are you wondering how to remove a grease stain from your leather pants? Let’s find out by getting into the details about how to get stains out of leather.

What Is Getting Stains Out of Leather?

Getting stains out of leather is removing discoloration, marks, spills, and stains from leather clothing, upholstery, and vehicle interiors. There are certain methods for removing specific types of stains on leather to prevent damaging the leather. Unsightly stains and marks on leather can make it look old and unappealing, and they can come from many substances, including:

  1. Water
  2. Oil
  3. Ink
  4. Coffee
  5. Wine
  6. Grease
  7. Crayons

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • Reasons You Might Choose to Get Stains Out of Leather
  • Variations or Styles of How To Get Stains Out of Leather
  • How To Get Stains Out of Leather Overview Table
  • Skill Level of Getting Stains Out of Leather
  • Tools and Supplies Needed to Get Stains Out of Leather
  • How to Get Stains Out of Leather Step by Step
  • How to Get Better at Getting Stains Out of Leather
  • My Personal Research on How To Get Stains Out of Leather
  • Helpful How To Get Stains Out of Leather Insights
  • Key Takeaways
Getting a Stain Out of a Leather Seat - How To Get Stains Out of Leather - Liberty Leather Goods
Getting a Stain Out of a Leather Seat

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

One might read online that leather should not get wet; however, this is not totally true. While leather is water resistant, submerging or letting water sit on it is usually not a good idea because it can lead to stains. 

Some people believe saddle soap is good for removing stains from leather and cleaning it; however, this is untrue. Unlike saddle soap, there are specific methods for specific stains that will prevent residue and damage. 

Reasons You Might Choose To Get Stains Out of Leather

Leather may resist water and other spills, but many substances can leave stains behind. Stains make leather look old, dirty, and less appealing. Getting stains out of leather can make it look new again, improve its appearance and durability, and even give it better quality and feel.  Knowing how to remove specific stains can help anyone restore leather and make it beautiful and supple again.

It does take a little skill to remove stains from leather, and it helps to have some basic leather care knowledge to not just remove the stain but treat the leather afterward to keep it supple and in good shape.

Variations or Styles of How To Get Stains Out of Leather

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Because there are so many different stain sources and types, there are several variations of stain removal. Certain types of stains will respond better to some methods better than others, but in general, there are four variations of leather stain removal to choose from:

  1. Dry-dusting
  2. Distilled water
  3. Leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water 
  4. Rubbing alcohol

How To Get Stains Out of Leather Overview Table

Area of PreparationDetails
TechniqueHow To Get Stains Out of Leather
Overall Level of Skill (1–5)3
Time to Complete (minutes/hours)30 minutes to 8 hours
Workspace NeededSink or table
Skills NeededBasic leather care
Tools and Supplies NeededPH-neutral soap, water, leather cleaner, rubbing alcohol, soft brush, vacuum cleaner attachment with a soft brush on low suction, microfiber towels or old t-shirts, leather conditioner
Key Helpful TipLet the leather air dry rather than using heat
How To Get Stains Out of Leather Characteristics

Skill Level of Getting Stains Out of Leather

When it comes to getting stains out of leather without damaging it, much of the skill is just knowing what type of stain it is and which method is best. Generally, four categories of stains can affect leather, and the ingredients used will have a particular effect on those stains. 

It is not difficult to remove stains, but it’s not exactly easy either. It does take a little skill to remove stains from leather, and it helps to have some basic leather care knowledge to not just remove the stain but treat the leather afterward to keep it supple and in good shape.

Tools and Supplies Needed to Get Stains Out of Leather

Different stain removal methods exist for different stains, and most of the items needed are already in many homes. Here are the tools and supplies needed to get most stains out of leather:

  1. Soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleaner attachment with a soft brush on low suction
  2. Leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap 
  3. Distilled water
  4. Rubbing alcohol
  5. Microfiber towels or old T-shirts
  6. Leather conditioner

How To Get Stains Out of Leather Step by Step

Stains come from many different sources, so getting stains out of leather may require different methods. It may be best to consult a professional with some stains; however, here are some general step-by-step methods for getting stains out of leather.

Any Stains

  1. Blot up any spills as soon as possible.
  2. Don’t rub to prevent spreading the stain.
  3. If the stain remains, dampen a lint-free cloth with leather cleaner.
  4. Gently rub the stain.
  5. Allow the leather to air dry.
  6. Apply leather conditioner.

Water Stains

  1. Dampen a microfiber towel or old t-shirt with distilled water.
  2. Wipe the leather gently using a circular motion. 
  3. Allow it to air dry.
  4. Apply leather conditioner. 
  5. Repeat the process if the water stain doesn’t lift.

Ink Stains

  1. Dip a microfiber towel or old t-shirt in rubbing alcohol.
  2. Gently rub the stain. (Avoid soaking the leather with rubbing alcohol to prevent damage.)
  3. Allow the leather to air dry. 
  4. Repeat the process if the stain remains. 
  5. Apply leather conditioner once finished.

Check out this helpful video from Howcast demonstrating how to remove stains from leather furniture.

How To Get Better at Getting Stains Out of Leather

There are so many ways of getting stains out of leather, so how could one get better at it? Trust me; there are always opportunities for stains to occur! The best method is prevention, but stains will still happen, allowing you the opportunity to practice different stain removal methods. 

However, if friends or family members have stained leather, take a crack at theirs too. This allows more practice and trying different methods for different stains. Besides, research about the multifunctional design of leather’s surface by Stanca et al. was recently published about carbon nanotube composites being used to treat leather surfaces to resist stains, which could make removing stains from leather without damaging it even easier!

My Personal Research on How To Get Stains Out of Leather

Many substances can lead to stains on leather, but what are the best methods for removing them? I asked friends and family what methods they use for getting stains out of leather, and here are their responses.

Leather Stain Removal MethodTimes Selected
Leather cleaner12%
White vinegar and water (usually, not recommended)21%
Rubbing alcohol15%
Soap and water27%
Baking soda (usually, not recommended)10%
Leave it15%
How Real People Get Stains Out of Leather

Helpful How To Get Stains Out of Leather Insights

Does leather permanently stain?

Leather does not always permanently stain. Whether or not stains stick around on leather depends upon the type of stain, the type of leather, and the method used to remove the stain. It can also depend upon how long the stain has been present, but in most cases, using the appropriate stain removal methods removes them completely from the leather.

Does vinegar remove stains from leather?

Although vinegar is often recommended for removing some stains from leather, it should generally be avoided because its acidity can cause damage to the material over time. There may be some occasions where diluted vinegar in water may be recommended for some leathers; however, it’s generally best to consult a professional or try a different cleaning method first. 

How do you get stubborn stains out of leather seats?

Stubborn stains can be removed from leather seats using several methods. Start by vacuuming the leather seats to remove dirt and debris, then identify the type of stain. Use a leather cleaner or pH-neutral soap and water with a microfiber towel to blot, dissolve, and remove the stain. Sometimes rubbing alcohol can be used cautiously to get some stubborn stains out of leather seats. 

What removes stains from a leather couch?

Getting stains off a leather couch starts with learning what the stain is. Some stains can be dry-dusted with a soft-bristled brush, microfiber cloth, or vacuum cleaner attachment with a soft brush on low suction. A leather cleaner or a pH-neutral soap and water can remove water stains, and rubbing alcohol can remove ink stains. Always follow up with a leather conditioner to keep the leather supple and soft.

Do stains come out of leather seats?

Stains can come out of leather seats, and there are several ways to do it. It’s best to start by trying to dry dust the stain with a soft brush or lint-free cloth. Also, leather cleaner or a pH-neutral soap and water will take care of water stains, and rubbing alcohol should remove ink stains. Allow the leather to air dry, and apply a leather conditioner. Repeat the process for stubborn stains, then consult a professional if you’re still having trouble. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Stains can be removed from leather through several different methods using simple ingredients.
  2. Clean up any spills as soon as they occur to prevent stains from soaking into the leather.
  3. Always allow the leather to air dry completely and apply leather conditioner after removing the stain.

In Closing

Leather adds a great touch to any home, wardrobe, and vehicle interior. It is not impervious to stains, and these tips will help you remove stubborn stains on your leather — keeping it clean and in great shape for many years to come.

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