Removing Stains from Leather

by Amy Gordon
(last updated February 20, 2009)

Everybody loves leather. Whether it's furniture and upholstery, clothes, or accessories, nothing can beat the class of leather. However, leather is a high-maintenance material that requires constant care to keep it in good shape and color. This article aims to tell you exactly how to ensure that your leather items remain as good as new for years.

Try to remove as much of the stain as you can immediately after it has formed. Because leather is extra-sensitive to stains, some of them can set so deeply that they become impossible to remove in the future, even with the utmost effort. A few other basic steps to follow when removing stains from leather are to always blot the stain from the outside to the inside to prevent the formation of rings, and to use a clean, dry, soft cloth.

Also, unlike a lot of other materials, leather reacts unfavorably to cold water. If you are using water to remove the stain, make sure it's at least tepid. Remember that no residual dampness can be left on the leather after cleaning, so make sure to wipe the affected area completely dry. Finally, if you are using a chemical cleaning agent (most leather manufactures offer leather cleaners along with their products), make sure you test it on an inconspicuous part of the leather item so that you don't end up with a more hideous stain than before.

  • Grease and oil stains. Mysteriously, grease and oil stains seem to find their way on to your favorite leather armchair or handbag no matter how hard you try to avoid them. However, what most people don't know is that with well-polished or protected leather, an immediate gentle wipe will usually remove the stain as soon as it forms. However, for older stains, we recommend soaking a soft cloth in vinegar and wiping the leather gently. As with all stains on leather, you will gain best results if you rub in the direction of the grain the leather.
  • Ink stains. Soak a wad of cotton in rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stain. Dry the area well and check to see whether any of the ink remains. If it does, apply a layer of acetone to the stain and leave it on overnight, then wipe it off with a soft, damp cloth and rub it dry with a soft towel.
  • Various dark stains. Light-colored leather items can often be reduced to trash-worthiness because of dark-colored stains. A very effective home remedy for such stains is a mix of lemon juice and cream of tartar in equal proportions. The paste should be left standing on the stain for about fifteen minutes. If necessary, reapply the paste and leave standing for another ten minutes. Remove the paste using a cloth soaked in water and a mild detergent. Finally, after you have removed all traces of the stain and the detergent, towel the area dry.
  • Acidic stains on dark leather. The best thing to do is to wipe the stains with a moisturizing soap lathered on a clean soft cloth. Take care not to use too much water, and once the stain is gone, do not wipe clean with water. A dry wipe with a clean, soft cloth will do fine.

For love or money, do not use abrasive brushes, excess water, ammonia, and bleaching agents when removing stains from leather. Remember, leather is among the most sensitive of materials, and if you don't toe the line, it will exact its revenge on you by cracking, splitting, or fading. Also, never leave a stain on dark leather items, thinking that no one can see it. The substance that has caused the stain will eat away at the leather, leaving it in tatters in no time.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...

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