How To Get Oil Out Of Leather: Clean Stains Now

by Albert Varkki updated 07-31-2023

Table Of Contents

man cleaning stain from leather bag

Leather is a durable and flexible material made from tanned animal hides and skins.

It has many uses including clothing, accessories, bookbinding, footwear, and upholstery.

However, it can be prone to oil stains.

Here's a comprehensive guide to removing oil stains from leather.

Leather Type Determines Stain Removal Process

raw leather hides hanging down

Before you attempt to remove oil stains from leather, you need to know what type of leather you are dealing with.

Leather comes in various styles, and not all leathers are made equal:

  • Aniline leather: the most natural of all leathers with a unique textured surface. The porous nature makes it more susceptible to stains, and can also be damaged by harsh cleaning agents. Avoid wet cleaners, and instead use dry methods like talcum powder to draw out the stain.
  • Semi-aniline leather: slightly more durable but retains the natural look of aniline leather. You can use a damp cloth and mild soap here.
  • Pigmented leather: has a polymer surface. It's tougher, so can handle more aggresive cleaners, such as pigmented leather cleaner.

Check the label so you know what you are dealing with before attempting any cleaning project.

How To Remove Oil Stains in Leather

What You'll Need

To remove oil stains from leather, you can use typical household items like:

  1. Paper towels
  2. Microfiber cloths or Soft bristled brush
  3. Mild dish soap
  4. Baby powder, Baking soda, or Corn starch
  5. Lemon juice, Vinegar, or Leather cleaner
  6. Leather conditioner (we recommend this Premium Leather Cream)

Step 1: Blot

man blotting stain on leather sofa

  • The quicker you remove the oil from your leather item, the less likely it is to stain.
  • Blot the area as soon as you notice the stain with a paper towel, taking care not to rub, and continue until the paper towel remains clean.

Step 2: Cover with Powder

baking powder

  • Next, apply a generous coating of talcum powder, baking soda, cornstarch, or any other oil-absorbing powder to draw the oil stain to the surface.
  • Leave it for 15-20 minutes for minor stains, and 12-24 hours for stubborn oil stains on large items such as recliners or couches.

Step 3: Remove Powder

brush and cloth

  • Gently remove the powder using a soft-bristled brush or microfiber cloth.
  • Do not rub too hard; doing so could damage the surface and make the oil stain even more visible.

Step 4: Apply Leather Cleaner

  • Once you are satisfied that you have removed as much of the oil stain as possible with powder, clean the area with a shop-bought or homemade leather cleaning solution.
  • You may need to repeat this process several times to remove the stain.

Step 5: Apply Leather Conditioner

leather conditioner before and after

  • Apply leather conditioner will not only restore natural oils and prevent drying, but it will create a protective barrier on the leather surface.
  • Apply a small amount using a clean microfiber cloth and allow to dry overnight.
  • We recommend this Premium Leather Cream

Here's how to apply leather conditioner properly:

Extra Stain Removal Tips

  • Always read the label to know what type of leather you are dealing with. Applying powder will not remove oil stains from by-cast leather, and you may need to employ the services of a professional for suede leather sofas and goods.
  • Do not use alcohol-based cleaners or degreasers on natural leather, as they may stain your fabric further.
  • Treat the leather gently. Rubbing with a microfiber cloth or scrubbing it with a brush could damage the protective surface and leave your leather goods beyond repair.

Preventing Future Leather Stains

The best way to prevent future leather stains is to not spill oil onto it in the future. However, you can also do the following:

  1. Act quickly and blog immediately, this will reduce the spread of the stain.
  2. Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals.
  3. Use leather conditioner - this creates a barrier between the leather and the stain.

Oil stains on leather can be annoying, but they don't have to be permanent.

By acting fast and using the right stain-removal products, you can remove oil stains from all kinds of leather goods.

Always test any cleaning product on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the marked spot, and if in doubt, consult a professional.

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We hope you enjoyed our article on how to remove oil stains from leather.

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Author: Albert Varkki

Albert Varkki is the co-founder of Von Baer. He understands leather products as a consumer, supplier, and a manufacturer, helping you with the inside knowledge you need, to choose the perfect leather product for you.

We always aim to have the highest editorial standards, and only publish accurate information on our website.

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