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Water Stain on Leather – Easily Make It Look New Again

You’re walking down the street with your favorite leather handbag, and SPLASH! A car drives through a puddle and splashes you and the leather handbag. Is it ruined? Hopefully not, and in this article, I will discuss several methods for removing water stains on leather that are easy and can make it look new again.

Water stains on leather are when water is absorbed into leather material, leaving noticeable damage. Products, including leather cleaner and isopropyl alcohol, can be used to remove water stains from leather. Air dry after cleaning leather, and apply leather conditioner for water protection.

Did you child spill a water bottle on your favorite leather jacket? Does your couch have water stains from a wet dog? Let’s explore water stains on leather and how to effectively remove them without damaging your leather.

What Is a Water Stain on Leather?

A water stain on leather is noticeable damage left after water has come into contact with the leather. Although leather is water resistant, it is also porous and can absorb water, leading to water stains. 

Water stains on leather are caused by moisture that is absorbed and leaves a discoloration behind. Over time water stains can contribute to the leather fibers becoming weaker and leading to more severe damage.

What We’ll Explore

  • Clearing up Myths & Misconceptions
  • What Happens When Leather Gets Wet
  • Water Stains on Leather Overview Table
  • Reasons for Water Stains on Leather
  • Can You Remove a Water Stain on Leather?
  • Methods for Removing a Water Stain on Leather
  • Tools and Supplies for Removing a Water Stain on Leather
  • How To Remove a Water Stain on Leather Step by Step
  • How To Prevent Water Stains on Leather
  • My Personal Research Into Water Stains on Leather
  • Helpful Water Stain on Leather Insights
  • Key Takeaways
A Woman Carrying a Leather Purse in the Rain - Water Stain on Leather - Liberty Leather Goods
A Woman Carrying a Leather Purse in the Rain

Clearing Up Myths & Misconceptions

A common misconception when it comes to leather is that it is waterproof and water won’t damage the material. However, real and faux leathers are water resistant, and real leather is especially porous and will absorb water. 

Another misconception regarding water stains on leather is that when water splashes occur, it’s often thought that the leather is ruined and must be discarded. However, in many cases, water splashes and stains can be removed from leather, often with no trace left behind. 

What Happens When Leather Gets Wet

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When leather is processed and tanned, essential oils are left behind in the hide, which makes it supple yet durable. Water that is absorbed into leather can draw out these oils, which dries out the fibers and moves around the dyes used during processing. 

This is what contributes to stains. If these stains are not treated and the oils replenished, rot can occur, making the leather brittle and damaged. Cleaning up water spills on leather when they occur is the best practice, and waterproofing sprays and creams can prevent some water from being absorbed by the leather.

Water Stain on Leather Overview Table

CharacteristicDetails
WaterUse a microfiber towel or old t-shirt dampened with water to blot around the water stain.
Leather cleanerUse a leather cleaner and a soft cloth to clean off the water stain.
Leather conditionerApply leather conditioner to the water stain to fade it and prevent damage.
Water Stain on Leather Characteristics

Reasons for Water Stains on Leather

The number one reason for water stains on leather is moisture. But where does it come from? It’s the water bottle spilled at lunch or the rain falling from the sky. It’s the splash from a car driving through a puddle or the ceiling leaking on a rainy day. Water comes from every which way, and protecting the leather from rain and moisture and cleaning it up when water stains occur is important.

Can You Remove a Water Stain on Leather?

In most cases, water stains can be removed from leather, but the earlier, the better. Clean up spills and splashes when they occur to prevent water stains before they set in. Use paper towels, napkins, a microfiber towel, or an old t-shirt to sop up any water from the leather to keep it from being absorbed. 

This will diminish and even prevent water stains, but one doesn’t always get that opportunity. Therefore, let’s look at methods for removing water stains from leather.

Water stains on leather can be removed with mild soap and water, alcohol, leather cleaner, and leather conditioner.

Methods for Removing a Water Stain on Leather

Not all water stains on leather are the same, and several methods exist for removing these water spots. If one method doesn’t work, try another. A simple method for more minor water stains is blotting the spots with a soft cloth moistened with water. This can help fade and remove water spots. 

For more extensive water stains, one can use leather cleaner, leather conditioner, or a mixture of equal parts isopropyl alcohol and water. A microfiber towel or old t-shirt should be used to apply and gently rub the leather to remove water stains. Allow the leather to air dry completely, and apply a leather conditioner to moisturize the leather after cleaning water stains.

Tools and Supplies for Removing a Water Stain on Leather

It’s sometimes best to use the method for which one has supplies on hand, but with water stains on leather, it helps to have backup supplies in case another technique is needed. When preparing to remove water stains on leather, gather the following supplies:

  1. Isopropyl alcohol
  2. Leather cleaner
  3. Leather conditioner
  4. Microfiber towels or old T-shirts

Test any products in an inconspicuous spot first to check for color change or damage before treating water stains. For commercial products, follow all manufacturer’s instructions.

How To Remove a Water Stain on Leather Step by Step

If there’s a dried water stain on a leather item, take the following steps to remove it:

  1. Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt moistened with leather cleaner or the isopropyl-water mixture.
  2. Blot the water stain with the moistened microfiber towel or old t-shirt, taking care not to get the leather too wet.
  3. Use a gentle circular motion to rub the spot and the surrounding leather area until the water stain has faded.
  4. Allow the leather to air dry completely.
  5. Apply leather conditioner to restore moisturize and protect from possible future water exposure.


Watch this helpful video from Scottie Clark, demonstrating how to remove a water stain on leather.

How To Prevent Water Stains on Leather

According to researchers Silvestre et al., leather makers are working on creating hydrophobic coatings for leather shoes and other items to protect from water while being environmentally friendly. Until this is available, several methods exist to prevent leather water stains. 

First and foremost, clean up any spills as soon as they occur so they don’t get absorbed into the leather. Consider using a waterproofing spray or cream to protect leather items. Avoid using leather items when there is rain, ice, or snow. When water spots do occur, treat them sooner rather than later for greater success in preventing water stains on leather.

My Personal Research Into Water Stains on Leather

I polled friends and family to see which methods they use for getting water stains out of leather items. Here is a table representing the percentages of their responses and what I learned from the poll about how to remove water stains on leather.

Method for Removing a Water Stain on LeatherTimes Selected
Waterproofing spray9%
Alcohol and water18%
Leather cleaner27%
Leather conditioner14%
Soap and water (not recommended)14%
Don’t worry about it18%
How to Remove Water Stains on Leather

Helpful Water Stain on Leather Insights

How do you get water stains out of leather?

There are several ways to get water stains out of leather, starting with more water. Using a damp cloth and applying some moisture to the water stain and surrounding area can help fade the stain. Another option for removing water stains from leather includes using equal parts isopropyl alcohol and water and leather conditioner.

Does water permanently stain leather?

In some cases, water can permanently stain leather, depending on the type of leather and the extent of the water absorption. It’s best to blot up water as soon as it spills on the leather. Methods like adding moisture or using a leather cleaner, isopropyl alcohol, and leather conditioner can fade and sometimes remove water stains.

Can water-stained leather be repaired?

Water-stained leather can be repaired with something as simple as a leather conditioner. When leather absorbs water, it can affect the leather fibers making them brittle over time. Applying a leather conditioner can keep the fibers intact and supple, preventing the leather from breaking down.

What does water damage on leather look like?

Water damage on leather looks like a darker, discolored spot with irregular borders and a dulled finish compared to the rest of the leather. Cleaning up the water spot can even out the color, so a leather conditioner should be applied to keep the leather supple and protected from future water exposure.

How do you get dried water stains out of a leather purse?

Dried water stains can be removed from a leather purse using a mixture of equal parts water and isopropyl alcohol. Use a microfiber towel or old t-shirt to rub the mixture on the water stain lightly. After the leather is completely dry, the spot should be faded or gone, and the leather conditioner can be applied.

Key Takeaways

  1. Water stains on leather can be removed with alcohol, leather cleaner, and leather conditioner.
  2. Waterproofing spray can help prevent some water stains on leather.
  3. Clean up spills on leather quickly to prevent water stains.

In Closing

There you have it – water stains on leather don’t have to be forever. With a bit of patience and simple methods, most water spots can be treated and leather items restored. These methods can even work on other stains, including soda, wine, and more!

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