How to Get Stains Out of Leather – Simple & Practical Tips

Improving your leather surfaces 

Thinking about getting that fancy leather couch you’ve always dreamed about? Or perhaps you’ve already purchased the leather couch and had a slight spill. You’re already thinking about the worst-case scenarios including buying a whole new couch. The truth is even though many dread the thought of cleaning persistent stains or dirt from your couch, the actual process can be quite easy if you know the right techniques or methods.

When you think about leather, you think about a luxurious or elegant material that can immediately make for an eye-catching look in your room or home. If you think of leather apparel, perhaps a fancy coat or jacket for the winter, you can embrace a more stylish look that will have your friends impressed.

However, the reality is, accidents happen. We’ve all been there, you’re eating a fancy restaurant and all of a sudden you spill some wine on your jacket. This then leads to an overload of anxiety on whether you’ll be able to get it out or shelve your coat in your closet for the rest of eternity. You think to yourself how to get stains out of leather? Fear not, there are various ways to tackle these pesky stain issues that don’t consist of hours of scrubbing.

When thinking about how to remove stains from leather, you also have to think about what type of stain it is whether it’s a water stain, wine stain, or oil stain. The difference is critical when you’re preparing to clean a couch, purse, shoe, or car seat. But more importantly, it is necessary to have certain supplies that will aid you in the quest for removing the stains off your leather product. These items include:

  • Leather primer
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Distilled water
  • Corn starch
  • Talcum powder
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Tartar
  • Dish soap

Having any of these items will help you get started on removing stains from leather, here are some simple and practical tips to guide you further:

1. For couches, love seats, chairs, or ottomans – add primer

Why is primer an important first step to removing stains from leather?

When it comes to leather, there is no such thing as a universal type. There are different kinds of leather, which means that there is no one way of cleaning the stains. With a variety of leather, this also means that you are required to use a protective coating called a primer to ensure that the material doesn’t get damaged.


There are two types of leather one is called aniline-dyed leather which also goes by unfinished leather and pigment leather which also has aniline but has a pigment coating. Both of these leathers have different characteristics that should be noted before beginning to remove the stain. For example, aniline-dyed leather looks more natural due to not having a final coat. It also tends to be more detailed in color.

When it comes to pigment leather, it isn’t soft to the touch like aniline but it does have longevity and is less likely to fade over time. When it comes to sofas, it is best to put a primer on or look at the manufacturing label to make sure that you are careful with the products you end up using.

2. Water stains

How can you remove water stains from leather?

Picture this: you’re having a good time with friends sitting on your favorite leather couch, all of whom are drinking water. Perhaps one of them misplaces the water and drops it, water splashing on the couch. You’re now thinking about how intricate it will be to clean up the mess or even worse, whether you’ll need to get a new couch.


Now you may think water stains won’t leave too much residue due to it being chemical-free, however, these stains tend to leave rings that will look unsightly to guests and dampen the decorative atmosphere you’d like to have. Newly-made water stains have the possibility of being removed without too much hassle. Simply get a dry microfiber cloth to soak up the excess liquid.

When it comes to older stains, you will need to put in slightly more effort. For older stains, we recommend:

  1. Dampening a microfiber cloth with water
  2. Wipe down the stain in a circular motion, starting from the center
  3. Continue to gently wipe the stain until you can’t see the ring anymore
  4. Then you will wait till the area is dry to check if the stain is still there
  5. If so, repeat the process until it is gone
  6. Once you have removed the stain and the area is dry, we recommend using a leather stain cleaner or conditioner to finish the job.

3. Grease stains

Can grease stains be removed from leather?

Whether it’s make-up, skin products, or food products there is no helping to get a little bit of oil on your couches or purses from time to time. Although these stains are a little tough to remove, nothing a little home cleaning technique can resolve. Here are some helpful tips that will make your struggle a little less frustrating:

  1. Start blotting the grease from the furniture with a dry microfiber cloth, enough so that any excess grease is removed
  2. Then you’re going to sprinkle a bit of talcum powder or cornstarch on the grease stain area, make sure that it’s covered completely.
  3. If you can, let it sit overnight. If you have pets at home, put them in a separate room for as long as you can so they don’t end up ingesting the powder or make a mess.
  4. Gently wipe away the powder with a clean dry microfiber cloth.
  5. If necessary, repeat these steps to ensure that there is no stain left.
  6. To leave a finishing glow, we suggest applying leather conditioner that’s approved by the manufacturer.

If these tips don’t do the trick, then you can also try using dishwashing liquid to remove grease stains from more pigmented leather furniture. For example, if you’re using dishwashing liquid you could:

  1. Again, blot enough of the grease from the furniture using a dry microfiber cloth to get all the excess grease removed making the process work faster.
  2. Combine equal parts dishwashing liquid with equal parts water to lather the spot
  3. Use a clean microfiber cloth and dampen it with the solution created
  4. Then while working in one direction, you will gently dab the grease stain area.
  5. Grab another clean microfiber cloth but this time dampen the cloth with distilled water only
  6. You will then gently dab the area in one direction, the same as you did previously with the soapy mixture to remove it
  7. Then you will use another dry microfiber cloth to dry the area
  8. You will repeat this process until the grease stain is all gone

4. Dark stains

How can you remove dark stains from leather car seats?

When it comes to leather car seats, there is nothing more aggravating than when you get a stain, particularly a dark one at that. For some, their car is their baby, and for others, it is a means of transportation. Both types of individuals wish to keep their cars clean and shiny to impress others or for their peace of mind. Unfortunately, mistakes do happen, when they do, the one thing that some new car owners are unaware of is how to clean up their mess.


For those car owners who have never owned a car with a leather interior before, it could be a whole new world of confusion that could make any car owner sweat with anxiety. Not to worry, there is a method that will help remove the dark stains from your leather car seat. The steps needed to take to remove the stain efficiently are:

  1. Combine equal parts crème of tartar and lemon juice
  2. Dab this solution on the grease stain on the leather car seats or interior
  3. Wait approximately 10 minutes or so for the solution to take effect
  4. After ten minutes, gently work in a fresh batch of paste to be more efficient
  5. You will then take a dampened sponge and remove the paste from the leather interior
  6. If needed, after you’re done and the stain is removed, we recommend using a leather conditioner for extra shine.

5. Ink stains

How can you remove ink stains from leather furniture?

Whether it’s your kids, friends, or maybe it was you accidentally leaving your pen on the leather couch or keeping it in your back pocket, ink stains are never an easy ordeal to manage. Your leather interiors can suffer greatly from a small blot of ink if left uncleaned. It will look unsightly and give the couch a lessened appearance than what you had originally. For those who have never dealt with ink stains, using soap and water could be the first real thought that comes to your mind.


However, rubbing it with soap and water could worsen the appearance of the ink stain. Creating an even worse mess than what you started with. But where there’s a will, there’s away. Try this next method for a more effective way to remove the ink stain:

  1. Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol
  2. Rub the ink stain lightly
  3. After this is done, blow-dry the ink stain
  4. If the ink stain persists, apply oil-free non-gel cuticle remover

If this method doesn’t help with removing the ink stain, there are ink-removal sticks that can be purchased for removing these pesky stains from leather. These ink removal sticks are inexpensive and sold in office supply stores for the general public, this can help remove the ink right away as it is specialized to do so.

6. Mold stains

How can you remove mold stains from leather furniture?

Removing mold stains from leather furniture is a lot like removing ink stains, which means you can follow the same procedure. When it comes to rubbing alcohol, we always recommend doing a spot test to ensure that you won’t be harming the interior before rubbing the solution on the stain whether big or small.

For this, it would be best to do it in an area that is not too conspicuous like underneath the cushion seats. This will help minimize the damage if there is any. We also recommend looking at the manufacturer label to make sure if there is any objection to this solution being used. After getting rid of the mold stain, we always suggest using a leather conditioner. Not only does this helped seal in the cleanliness but it adds shiny protection that will help maintain the appearance of your leather couch.

Tips on maintaining your leather interiors (image below)

Hey, we get it, accidents happen. While these home remedy methods will help you get out of a pickle, we also believe in taking firm action to prevent these accidents from happening and keep your leather interiors looking dazzling. Here are a few simple steps you can take whether you clean daily or once a week:

1. Vacuum

Sounds simple enough right? Vacuuming is incredibly effective in removing dust, debris, or dirt from couches. Being a popular hangout spot, a couch can easily catch more dust mites than the rest of the house if left uncleaned. Preventing dust and dirt can prevent stains from forming over time, we encourage this task at least twice a month.

2. Clean or dust along the leather’s grain

Leather tends to have a specific direction in which the seams meet and the fibers move. This means that you will clean going towards that direction, you can do this by dusting with a microfiber cloth.

3. Wipe down 

It Is incredibly important to use a damp towel to wipe down the leather. We recommend using warm water with the following:

  • Hand soap
  • Dish detergent
  • Leather soap

Make sure that the towel is not soaking wet as it can leave a residue after use. Use a gentle motion to not damage the interior if it’s done too harshly, leather is a sensitive material. We encourage this task at least once a week to maintain your leather interiors.