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Cleaning Leather Stains

If you want to avoid a spillage becoming a stain or if you need to remove an existing stain, this comprehensive guide will show you how.

Whenever there is an accident, the two golden rules are to act fast and to treat appropriately. Scan through this article to quickly find out how to clean leather whether you have spilled wine, coffee, chocolate or one of a multitude of other substances. This article does not apply to specialist leathers such as suede or nubuck.

The good news is that most spillages can be treated before becoming stains and most stains do not have to be permanent. The actual method you will need will depend on the substance involved, the fabric and the age of stain.

The most common exceptions to the above are dyes and bleaches. Both of these permanently alter the color of the fabric at the molecular level and so cannot be cleaned (although you may be able to restore them).

how to clean leather

Cleaning Equipment List

Unless you need to treat an emergency spillage now, before looking in depth at how to clean leather furniture you should collect together a leather cleaning toolkit.

Here is a list of equipment that will help you to deal with most spillages quickly and in the right way:

spoon or knife for cleaning leather

Spoon / Blunt Knife

soft brush for cleaning leather

Soft Brush

bucket for cleaning leather

Bucket

soft cloth for cleaning leather

Soft Cloths

hair dryer for cleaning leather

Hair Dryer

sponge for cleaning leather

Sponge

paper towels for cleaning leather

Paper Towels

stiff brush for leather

Stiff Brush

latex gloves for cleaning leather

Latex Gloves

toothbrush to clean leather

Toothbrush

face mask for cleaning leather

Face Mask

vacuum cleaner to clean leather

Vacuum Cleaner

Cleaning Substances

Here is a list of chemicals and natural substances you should keep in your cupboard for tackling stains and spillages. Some will be rarely needed but it is worth having them to hand just in case:

Main List

  • Amyl acetate (banana oil)
  • Glue remover
  • Ice cubes in plastic bags
  • Leather furniture cleaner with conditioner
  • Leather degreaser
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Salt
  • Soda water
  • Talcum powder
  • Washing-up liquid
  • White spirit
  • White vinegar

Also Useful

  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Carbon tetrachloride (warning: toxic)
  • Milk
  • Rubber adhesive
  • Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)
  • Saddle soap/glycerine
  • Shaving cream
  • Soap flakes
  • Soft eraser
  • Sticky tape
  • Wax crayons to match color (optional, for restoration)
  • WD-40

You will notice that there is no mention of Borax or bleach while bicarbonate of soda and even saddle soap are rarely recommended . These chemicals can sometimes be helpful but should generally be avoided. They are too alkaline for modern leather which is a mildly acidic fabric. Using these chemicals can lead to the breakdown of fibres deep within the leather so should only be used as a last resort.

How to Clean Leather Furniture

Leather should be kept out of direct sunlight. On the whole, leather cleaning is fairly straightforward, requiring only the occasional dust and wipe down along with an annual treatment with hide food or leather cream. Prior to this yearly treat, give your leather sofa a wipe with a damp cloth or sponge, remembering to dry thoroughly afterwards. This will lift dust and prevent the clogging of the pores leather needs to breathe. You don’t even really need to use a leather furniture cleaner although it is useful to have one to hand. A leather conditioner is recommended for increasing the lifespan of the leather, particularly if it has come into contact with alcohol or soap which can cause drying and cracking.

As detailed above, avoid alkaline products (bicarbonate of soda, saddle soap, etc.) as much as possible as these will break down the bonds keeping the fats and tannins in place. Where possible, the stain removal methods below have stayed away from these chemicals.

General Leather Care

In most cases, avoid getting leather too wet, especially if the stain includes dyes or bleaches as this will spread the problem. Suede is particularly sensitive to water which is why many of the remedies below are not suitable for suede.

Although stains should be dealt with immediately, patience is definitely a virtue when treating them. Where dyes and bleaches are involved, use blotting or feathering rather than wiping because wiping can deepen and spread a stain.

As a general rule of thumb, oily and greasy stains will require an absorbent substance like talcum powder to soak up the oils. This is best left overnight before vacuuming or sweeping off.

You should find a care label on leather furniture which will have more specific care instructions.

how to care for leather

Spot Testing

Although most of the chemicals listed above have been chosen for their compatibility with leather, it is always wise to spot test first. Simply locate a piece of the leather you don’t mind damaging (e.g. on an inside seam, under a hem or where the leather has been wrapped out of sight). Apply a tiny spot of the chemical using a clean cloth and wait ten minutes. Blot the chemical with a clean cloth. If the fabric looks the same color as when you applied the spot and there is no color on the cloth, you are safe to use the chemical on your sofa or other leather item.

how to spot test leather

Leather Cleaning by Stain Type

To follow is a list of different types of stain together with simple step-by-step guides explaining how to remove each stain from your leather furniture.

how to remove glue stains from leather

Adhesive/glue

  1. Is the glue already dry? If so, skip to step 5.
  2. Scrape off any excess glue with a blunt knife.
  3. Put a few drops of washing-up liquid on a soft cloth and gently rub. Dry the area with paper towels or another (dry) soft cloth. If this isn’t working, move on to step 3.
  4. Sponge with hot and soapy water. If this isn’t working, move on to step 4.
  5. Treat with a specialist glue remover or leather degreaser. Amyl acetate on a cotton swab may also work (don’t use acetone and sponge with water afterwards). For all of these chemicals, be sure to spot test first.
  6. (Dry glue only). Place some ice cubes inside a plastic bag and hold on to the affected area.
  7. Using a blunt knife or spoon, gently scrape and pick the glue off.
how to remove antiperspirant stains from leather

Antiperspirant

Unlike deodorant, antiperspirant will require a specialist treatment from a professional since these products contain powerful astringents.

how to remove ash stains from leather

Ash

If you need to know how to clean a leather couch after the contents of an ash tray have been spilt upon it, there is some good news.

Providing the ash has not become wet, you can simply brush it up with a soft brush or suck it away with the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

how to remove avocado stains from leather

Avocado

  1. Spoon off as much of the avocado as possible.
  2. Put a little washing-up liquid or liquid detergent on a soft cloth and gently rub away residue.
  3. Sponge with a little water and blot dry.
how to remove baked beans stains from leather

Baked beans

  1. Using a spoon, lift off any baked beans and excess sauce.
  2. Add a few drops of washing-up liquid to water to create a detergent solution. Sponge the bean juice to lift the stain.
  3. Blot dry and repeat as necessary.
how to remove baby food formula stains from leather

Baby food/Formula 

  1. Using a spoon, remove any excess material.
  2. Try luke warm water on its own first (not too hot or it may set the stain). Apply with a sponge and dry with a cloth.
  3. If the stain is a bit more stubborn, add a few drops of washing-up liquid to some fresh warm water and mix it until you create a froth.
  4. Using the sponge, apply the froth to the stained area before blotting dry with a clean cloth.
how to remove banana stains from leather

Banana

  1. Using a spoon or blunt knife, scrape off the excess lumps.
  2. Treat the remaining mess with hot water and a sponge. Blot dry.
how to remove battery acid stains from leather

Battery Acid

  1. Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from battery acid. Ensure you keep it away from your eyes.
  2. This is a rare case where an alkali chemical is recommended. Make a paste out of bicarbonate of soda and water and wipe over the battery acid using a clean sponge. The acid will react with the paste causing bubbling and the production of a harmless salt.
  3. Once the bubbling has stopped, you have neutralised as much acid as possible.
  4. Rinse out the sponge thoroughly. Wipe away the salt residue.
  5. Dry the area with a cloth.
  6. Any remaining discoloration is likely to be due to fiber damage and will require specialist attention.
how to remove beer stains from leather

Beer 

  1. Sponge the area with soda water to lift the beer stain.
  2. Soak a soft white cloth in warm water and gently wipe the affected area.
  3. Wring the cloth and repeat, smelling the cloth afterwards.
  4. Do you still smell beer? Go back to step 2 until there is no more smell
  5. It is important to go back later and check the smell is really gone. If it has returned, sponge the area with a solution of water and white vinegar and then sponge again with water alone.
how to remove beetroot stains from leather

Beetroot

  1. Sponge with soda water to completely saturate the area.
  2. Blot and repeat step 1 until the color has lifted.
  3. If the color remains, spot test some shaving cream. This is effective at removing dies but that can include the dyes in the leather itself!
  4. If the test is successful, squirt a small amount of shaving cream on the area and gently work in with an old toothbrush.
  5. Wipe away excess foam and blot with a sponge soaked in cool water.
how to remove bird poop and droppings stains from leather

Bird Droppings

  1. If the stain has dried, gently brush off using a stiff-bristled brush.
  2. For the residue – or if the stain is wet – sponge with undiluted washing-up liquid until the stain comes out.
  3. Sponge with water and blot dry.
how to remove bleach stains from leather

Bleach

Spilled bleach (which is commonly sodium hypochlorite) will fade leather so you need to get it off fast! Follow these steps immediately:

  1. Dilute the affected area with cold water.
  2. Using a soft cloth and neat washing-up liquid, dab the area to avoid spreading the bleach around or pushing it deeper.

If this works, you have been lucky. Cleaning leather which has been already bleached is not possible. Bleach breaks up the molecules of the dyes which color the leather so your only option is to add the color back. Some people have success with a fabric pen or specialist leather stain but color matching is very difficult and best left to a professional.

how to remove blood stains from leather

Blood

  1. Be safe! If the blood is not yours (or from a trusted family member) wear disposable latex gloves and check the gloves are intact.
  2. If the bloodstain is dried, try to gently brush it off with a stiff brush.
  3. Sponge up any excess blood. Sponge the rest with plenty of soda water. Dab dry with kitchen paper and repeat for as long as necessary
  4. Sponge the area with a weak solution of washing-up liquid and cold water. Dab dry with kitchen paper and repeat for as long as necessary
  5. If step 4 was unsuccessful, you will need to use a leather cleaner to lift the stain. Alternatively you could try a very weak solution of ammonium hydroxide (3 drops per litre of water) and then repeat the soda water method from step 3. It is critical to spot test first as ammonium hydroxide is very strong and may damage the leather. Ammonium hydroxide and bleach should never be used together although you are unlikely to want to use bleach on leather anyway.
how to remove burn mark stains from leather

Burn Mark

  1. Sponge with a mixture of glycerine and water
  2. Leave for an hour
  3. Sponge with cold water
  4. Repeat
  5. Applying a solution of a tablespoon of Borax in 500ml or a pint of water using a clean cloth can also help. Note that this may also shorten the life of the leather. However, if your main aim is to fade the burn mark, this may be a price you are willing to pay.
how to remove butter and margarine stains from leather

Butter

  1. Remove any excess butter with a spoon
  2. Sprinkle the affected area with talcum powder. This absorbs grease faster than leather.
  3. Leave for at least two hours before brushing the talc off with a soft brush
  4. Rinse a clean cloth in warm water and add a drop of washing-up liquid. Wipe over the remaining stain, if any.
  5. Rinse and wipe again.
  6. If the butter stain remains, patch test a rubber adhesive (like that found in a puncture repair kit). If no color change occurs, apply to the stain, leave for 24 hours and then peel off.
  7. There are commercial leather degreasers available but always patch test them first.
how to remove calamine lotion stains from leather

Calamine Lotion

  1. Use a blunt knife to scrape away any excess lotion.
  2. Mix together washing-up liquid and warm water to form a frothy solution.
  3. Dip a sponge into the suds and apply these to the stained area.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Sprinkle talcum powder to soak up any remaining oils.
  6. Wait 24h before brushing off.
  7. Treat your leather sofa with conditioner.
  8. If staining remains you will need to consult a specialist since dyeing of the fibers has occurred.
how to remove candle wax stains from leather

Candle Wax

  1. Allow the wax to set and attempt to gently scratch/peel it off using your fingers and a stiff brush.
  2. Alternatively, use a hairdryer on a low setting to melt the wax and then wipe it away with a paper towel
  3. Apply a leather cleaner to remove any residual wax stain.
how to remove cement stains from leather

Cement

  1. For spilled cement powder, it is important to keep it dry and remove it quickly. Simply brush the excess up with a soft brush and vacuum the rest, including any crevices.
  2. For wet or dried cement, mix white vinegar with warm water in equal parts. Wipe away as much as you can with a clean cloth.
  3. Wait a few minutes and repeat Step 2. You will hopefully find that even dried cement has not fully cured and will start coming off.
  4. Sponge with clean water and blot dry.
  5. If any of the concrete has fully cured you will need professional advice. Cement is corrosive so act quickly to limit any damage.
chalk stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Chalk

  1. Using a soft brush, remove as much of the chalk dust as possible.
  2. For the rest, sponge off with warm, soapy water.
chewing gum stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Chewing Gum

  1. Place two or three ice cubes in a plastic bag.
  2. Hold the bag against the chewing gum.
  3. Break and peel the pieces of gum from the fabric.
  4. If there is any residue remaining, dampen a cloth with white spirit and rub clean. Spot test first.
chocolate stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Chocolate

  1. Blot and scrape off as much of the chocolate as possible.
  2. For the residue, try cold water first; apply with a sponge.
  3. Add some neat washing-up liquid to the sponge and wipe the area.
  4. Another option is to harden the chocolate using ice cubes in plastic bags. Press the bags on the stain until the chocolate becomes brittle. You should then be able to pick off the hardened pieces.
  5. One final technique to try is mixing white spirit with two parts water and apply with a sponge. Make sure you spot test first.
citrus juice stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Citrus Juice

  1. Close the curtains. Citric acid works faster when exposed to light.
  2. Gently remove all excess pulp with a blunt knife or spoon taking care not to spread the stain.
  3. Mix a few drops of washing-up liquid with water. Sponge the solution gently over the area using the feathering technique to contain the stain (light strokes from the outside of the stain to its center).
  4. Blot dry.
  5. Apply clean water with a sponge. It is important to remove the sugars and soap residue to avoid attracting dirt.
hot cocoa stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Hot Cocoa

  1. Using a clean cloth, blot up as much of the liquid as possible.
  2. Mix together soap flakes and water to form a foamy solution.
  3. Using a sponge, apply the suds to the stained area.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. To absorb any remaining oils, sprinkle talcum powder over the area.
  6. Leave for 24 hours before gently brushing the powder away with a stiff brush.
  7. As this treatment will have dried the leather, finish off with a leather cleaner containing conditioner.

Coffee/Tea

  1. If still wet, blot the spillage with paper towels or a white cloth.
  2. Sponge the area with warm water until clean.
  3. Sprinkle with talcum powder and brush off with a soft brush when dry.
  4. Follow up with a leather cleaner.
correcting fluid stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Correction Fluid

Spilling correction fluid on to a leather couch may seem a big problem but it is usually easy to remove. Simply wait for the fluid to harden and pick off or gently brush with a stiff brush.

couch syrup stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Cough Syrup

  1. Using a sponge, saturate the stained area with soda water.
  2. Blot with a clean cloth.
  3. peat until the stain has gone.
crayon makeup stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Crayon/Makeup

  1. For make-up powder, simply vacuum the area or sweep away with a soft brush.
  2. For other make-up (e.g. lipstick) or crayon, create a solution of washing-up liquid (a few drops) and water.
  3. Using a cloth, feather the stain (feathering means using small, gentle strokes and working from outside the stain into its center).
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Sprinkle with talcum powder.
  6. Once the crayon/make-up stain has gone, add a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water.
  7. Leave for 24 hours and brush off the powder with a soft brush.
  8. Apply a leather cleaner if the stain persists.
curry stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Curry

  1. If the spillage is fresh, quickly scrape off as much of the curry residue as possible using a spoon or blunt knife.
  2. Blot with a damp paper towel (don’t wipe or saturate as this may spread any dyes in the curry).
  3. Cover the stain with petroleum jelly.
  4. Using a clean cloth, wipe the stain in one direction. Keep finding a clean area of the cloth and repeating. Again, be careful not to spread the stain.
  5. Generously apply leather cleaner with a new cloth to remove the last of the jelly.
dead insects stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Dead Insects

  1. Carefully remove any remaining insect parts using a spoon or – if you can bear it – your fingers.
  2. Add a couple of drops of washing-up liquid to warm water.
  3. Sponge the solution on to the stain.
  4. Sponge with clean water and blot dry.
deodorant stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Deodorant

  1. Check whether the product is a deodorant or antiperspirant as the latter will require professional advice.
  2. A deodorant mishap may leave a combination of oils, waxes and alcohol on your sofa. Tackle the oil first. Mix washing-up liquid and water to form a soapy solution.
  3. Apply the suds from the soap using a sponge. Wipe dry with a clean, dry cloth.
  4. Sprinkle talcum powder on the area and leave overnight.
  5. Brush off the talc and observe the stain. Is there still a white residue? If no, go straight to Step 7.
  6. The residue could be wax. Using a hairdryer on a low setting, gently warm the area. Wipe up with a clean, damp cloth. Repeat until the stain has gone.
  7. Treat with a leather cleaner and conditioner. This should remove any remaining stain and prevent cracking.
egg stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Egg

  1. Using a blunt knife or spoon, remove as much of the mess as you can.
  2. Sponge the rest of the stain with plenty of cold water.
  3. Blot dry with a cloth or paper and repeat. When the egg stain is gone, blot the excess moisture and allow the leather to dry naturally.
  4. Apply a leather cleaner using a clean cloth.
faeces urine and vomit stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Feces / Urine / Vomit / Mucus

  1. Get kitted out with latex gloves and, ideally, a face mask.
  2. Remove excess solid matter using a spoon reserved for cleaning. Go over again with a blunt knife. This step is the key to success so take your time (which is more bearable when you’re wearing a mask!)
  3. Blot with a paper towel (for urine, standing on the towel can improve absorption).
  4. Get two old bowls (not used for food). In one, add a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water to create a solution.
  5. Sponge the solution over the affected area and then wring the sponge into the second bowl. Repeat until the stain has lifted.
  6. If this hasn’t solved the problem, mix a quarter of a cup of white vinegar with a cup of water.
  7. Sponge the area with this new solution, following the same instructions in Step 3, until the stain has come out.
  8. If there are any lingering smells, leave a dish of baking soda on the sofa. Baking soda is very good at soaking up odors but can damage your leather couch if it is in direct contact with it.
furniture polish stain removal from leather furniture and clothes

Floor / Furniture Polish

  1. Using a blunt knife, scrape off any excess polish.
  2. Mix together washing-up liquid and water to form a foamy solution.
  3. Using a sponge, apply the suds of the solution to the affected area.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Whether you see any residue or not, sprinkle on talcum powder.
  6. Leave overnight and sweep or vacuum off the powder.
  7. Repeat Steps 2 to 6 if necessary.
  8. Treat with a leather cleaner and conditioner.
floor wax stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Floor Wax

  1. If the wax is still wet, go straight to Step 2. If the wax is dry, pick as much off as possible. You can also try gently brushing with a stiff brush.Then use a hairdryer on low setting to melt the rest of the wax.
  2. Mix one part white vinegar with two parts water and spot test.
  3. If the test passes, blot the remaining stain with a clean cloth dampened with the solution. You can use a toothbrush for difficult areas but be gentle.
  4. Once the stain is gone, wipe the area with a clean wet cloth and then wipe dry.
  5. Treat your leather sofa with conditioner.
fruit juice stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Fruit Juice Non-Dyeing

  1. If wet, blot any excess juice with a clean cloth or paper.
  2. Sponge the area with water and wipe dry with a clean cloth. This is sometimes enough for mild stains
  3. For more stubborn stains, mix a solution of washing-up liquid and water and make it nice and frothy
  4. Using a sponge, apply the froth to the affected area
  5. Wipe dry with a clean cloth
  6. Follow up by treating with a leather cleaner containing conditioner for best results
fruit juice blackberry and blueberry stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Fruit Juice -Dyeing

  1. Blot with a dry cloth (don’t use water and don’t wipe the stain – this will spread the dye!)
  2. Mix together washing-up liquid and water to create a soapy froth. Apply gently with a sponge.
  3. Blot with a clean dry cloth.
  4. Repeat Steps 2 and 3.
gelatin stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Gelatin

  1. Using a blunt knife or spoon, gently scrape up any excess gelatin.
  2. Mix together some washing-up liquid and water to form a soapy solution.
  3. Using a sponge, apply only the suds to the stained area.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. If the area still looks discolored or feels sticky to the touch, repeat Steps 2 to 4.
  6. Finish off with leather cleaner and conditioner.
grass stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Grass

  1. Act promptly. Grass contains chlorophyll which is a dye. Once it is set it will require professional attention.
  2. Create a solution from a quarter of a cup of white vinegar and water.
  3. Apply liberally with a sponge and blot dry.
  4. Repeat until the stain has lifted.
gravy stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Gravy

  1. Sponge the affected area with cold water.
  2. Blot dry and apply talcum powder.
  3. Leave for 24 hours and brush off with a soft brush.
  4. Finish off by applying a leather couch cleaner.
hair dye stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Hair Dye

  1. Using paper towels, blot as much of the stain as possible. Don’t wipe or this will spread the stain.
  2. Add a drop or two of washing-up liquid to a cup of water.
  3. Using a clean, absorbent cloth, gently apply the solution to the stain. Again, dab don’t wipe.
  4. Leave for five minutes. Using a sponge, slightly saturate the area with fresh water.
  5. Repeat the whole process as many times as necessary.
  6. Any remaining dye is probably permanent. Obtain professional restoration advice.
hair gel stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Hair Gel

  1. For fresh spillages, remove the excess with a spoon or blunt knife.
  2. Sponge the affected area with cold water. You do not need to saturate.
  3. Apply talcum powder.
  4. Leave for 24 hours and brush off.
  5. Use a leather cleaner if the stain persists.
ice cream stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Ice Cream

  1. Mix together washing-up liquid and water to form a frothy foam.
  2. Apply the foam to the affected area with a sponge. Gently wipe the foam away with a dry, clean cloth.
  3. Get rid of any remaining grease by coating with talcum powder.
  4. After 24 hours, brush the powder off with a soft brush.
  5. Use a leather cleaner if any stain remains.
ink stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Ink

  1. If ink is wet, gently blot the excess.
  2. Using cotton wool, dab the stained area with milk.
  3. Create a weak soap flake solution with warm water and wipe the area with a cloth without wetting the area too much.
  4. Repeat Step 2 until all traces of milk are gone.
  5. If the ink stain is still visible follow the instructions for permanent marker.
jam and jelly stain removal from leather items like furniture and clothes

Jam / Jelly

  1. Gently scrape off any excess jam or jelly with a knife or spoon, taking care not to spread the stain.
  2. Mix up a strong soap flake solution.
  3. Using a sponge, apply the soap to the stain.
  4. Wipe with a dry cloth.
  5. Apply leather cleaner.
  6. If the stain has not been lifted, you will need to decide whether to get professional treatment or risk a harsher home solution.
  7. If you are willing to risk some drying of the leather, spot test a solution made from two pints of water, a tablespoon of white vinegar and half a teaspoon of rubbing alcohol. Apply this to the stain with cotton wool.
  8. Sponge with plenty of fresh water and blot dry.
  9. Treat your leather sofa to some conditioner.
mayonnaise stain removal from leather

Mayonnaise

  1. Add a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water and swish it around to make it foamy.
  2. Using a sponge, apply the suds only to the stained area.
  3. Wipe dry with a cloth.
  4. Treat with a leather couch cleaner.
milk and cream stain removal from leather

Milk / Cream

  1. Quickly blot up any excess with a clean cloth or paper towels.
  2. Sponge the affected area with soda water or warm water. You don’t have to saturate it.
  3. Sprinkle on talcum powder.
  4. Allow to dry and brush off the residue.
modeling clay stain removal from leather

Modeling Clay

  1. Put some ice cubes in a clean plastic bag and hold against the material until it goes hard.
  2. Pick off the clay or Plasticine with your fingers or gently brush off with a stiff brush.
mold mildew and algae stain removal from leather

Mold / Mildew /Algae

  1. Add a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water.
  2. Sponge the area and wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  3. Repeat as necessary.
  4. Some people recommend destroying the spores using an equal mixture of rubbing alcohol and water. This runs the risk of drying the leather so if you do want to take this extra precaution, be sure to sponge down water afterwards and then treat with a leather conditioner.
  5. Mold or mildew which has been allowed to flourish untreated can damage the leather itself. If this has happened to your leather couch, seek professional restoration advice.
mud stain removal from leather

Mud

  1. Smell the stain to make sure it is mud and not animal faeces!
  2. Allow the mud to dry completely.
  3. Brush gently with a stiff brush.
  4. Once the mud is gone, use a leather cleaner to finish the job.
nail polish stain removal from leather chairs and couches

Nail Polish

  1. Gently scrape or pick off any excess polish using a blunt knife or spoon.
  2. Using a clean cloth, apply some amyl acetate to the stain. You should carry out a spot test first although amyl acetate should be fine for use on most leather. However, you should keep the chemical away from any plastic trim. Blot dry.
  3. If this hasn’t lifted the stain, try adding a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water. Blot dry.
  4. Finish off by sponging with cold water and blotting dry with a dry cloth.
nicotine stain removal from leather

Nicotine

  1. Mix up a frothy solution of washing-up liquid and water.
  2. Sponge the affected area with the soap suds.
  3. Wipe over the area with a damp cloth.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Move on to the next area and repeat.
oil grease stain removal from leather

Oil / Grease

  1. Blot the excess oil as soon as possible after spillage.
  2. Apply some talcum powder or rubber adhesive (such as that found in a bicycle repair kit).
  3. Leave on for 24h before brushing/vacuuming/peeling off.
  4. If this has worked, finish off by treating the leather with hide food. If not, move on to Step 5.
  5. Spot test some eucalyptus oil. If there is no color change, wipe the remaining oil stain with a few drops on a dry cloth.
  6. If you are still struggling to remove the oil stains, spot test some shaving foam. Gently work the foam into the stain using an old toothbrush.
  7. Wipe away the foam with a dry cloth and blot with a damp sponge.
emulsion based paint stain removal from leather

Paint – Emulsion

  1. If the emulsion is dry and you are willing to risk rubbing alcohol, spot test first and then apply over the stain using a cotton wool swab. If the emulsion is wet, blot up the excess paint with a cloth or paper towel.
  2. Sponge the stain with water. Blot dry.
  3. If you have used rubbing alcohol, treat your leather couch to some conditioner.
oil based paint stain removal from leather

Paint – Oil-Based

  1. Carefully scrape or scratch off any excess paint with a spoon or a blunt knife.
  2. Carry out a spot test with some amyl acetate (normally there will be no problem).
  3. Using a clean cloth, apply the amyl acetate, taking care to cover or avoid any plastic trim. Blot dry.
  4. If the stain is still visible, add a few drops of washing-up liquid to warm water and gently sponge. Blot dry.
  5. Once the stain has gone, sponge with cold water and blot dry one last time.
water based paint stain removal from leather

Paint – Water-Based

  1. Remove any excess paint with a spoon.
  2. If the paint stain is dry, try gently rubbing it off with a stiff brush.
  3. For wet or dry paint, soak a sponge in water and gently wipe.
  4. If this doesn’t lift the stain, mix a few drops of washing-up liquid with water and sponge with the suds before repeating Step 3.
  5. Blot dry once all traces of paint are gone.
pencil stain removal from leather

Pencil

  1. If you have a soft eraser, try to gently rub the pencil stain away. Make sure the eraser itself is clean!
  2. If this doesn’t work (it almost always does), apply some washing-up liquid directly on to a clean cloth and rub the stain.
  3. Sponge gently with cold water and blot dry.
permanent marker stain removal from leather couches and chairs

Permanent Marker

  1. Spot test an inconspicuous piece of leather with a cotton bud soaked in rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol). If this doesn’t remove the color from the leather proceed to Step 2. Otherwise you should speak to a professional.
  2. Spray a fine mist of rubbing alcohol over the stain and wipe gently with a cloth. The ink may spread but should start to fade.
  3. Repeat.
  4. Once the stain has been lifted, treat your leather sofa with conditioner. If the stain persists, you should speak to a professional. The ink manufacturer may even offer a solvent but this will require spot testing before use.
sweat stain removal from leather chairs and couches

Perspiration / Sweat

  1. Mix a few drops of washing-up liquid with water and work into a foam.
  2. Dip a sponge into the foam (not the water) and apply to the stained area, gently rubbing in a circular motion until the stain is gone.
  3. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  4. Treat your leather sofa with some conditioner to counteract the drying effect of the soap.
pollen stain removal from leather

Pollen

Pollen is not only a common culprit in allergies, it can also stain your leather sofa. If you spot pollen on your couch, take some good quality sticky tape and gently stick to the surface, being careful not to crush and spread the pollen particles.

red cabbage juice stain removal from leather

Red Cabbage Juice

  1. Carefully blot any excess juice. Do not rub or use water as this can deepen and/or spread the stain.
  2. Add some drops of washing-up liquid to water and stir it into a froth.
  3. Using just the froth, sponge the stain using a feathering technique (gentle strokes from the outside to the inside of the stain).
  4. Blot dry and repeat if necessary.
rust stain removal from leather couches and chairs

Rust

  1. Pour some neat white vinegar onto a cloth.
  2. Sponge the stained area, leaving it slightly damp.
  3. Sprinkle salt onto the vinegar.
  4. Wipe away the salt and vinegar with a sponge soaked in water.
  5. Using a clean, wet cloth, apply some saddle soap to remove any remaining rust, salt and vinegar.
  6. Rinse out the cloth and wash away the saddle soap.
  7. Dry with a clean, dry cloth.
salt stain removal from leather couches and chairs

Salt

  1. Mix together water and white vinegar in equal parts.
  2. Using a soft cloth, wipe the stained area until the salt has completely come out.
  3. Allow to dry naturally.
ketchup stain removal from leather

Sauces – Ketchup, BBQ Sauce

  1. Scrape off any excess liquid using a spoon or blunt knife.
  2. Mix up some soap flakes and water to create a nice, frothy solution.
  3. Using a sponge, apply the suds to the sauce stain.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Treat with a leather furniture cleaner to remove any sauce residue.
mil and cheese stain removal from leather

Sauces – Milk-Based or Cheese Sauce

  1. Using a blunt knife, gently scrape away as much of the sauce as you can.
  2. Mix together some soap flakes and water to form a foamy solution.
  3. Use a sponge to pick up the suds and apply to the stained area.
  4. Wipe dry with a clean cloth.
  5. Apply talcum powder to the area, even if you don’t see any remaining stain.
  6. Leave for 24 hours and then gently brush the powder off with a stiff brush.
  7. Finish off by using a leather cleaner with conditioner.
shoe polish stain removal from leather

Shoe Polish

  1. Scrape off any excess polish with a blunt knife.
  2. Spray the affected area with WD-40.
  3. Feather the stain with a clean cloth (this prevents spreading by working from the outside of the stain to its center using fine strokes).
  4. Add a few drops of washing-up liquid to some warm water. Sponge the area.
  5. Sponge again with cold water.
  6. Blot dry.
  7. If the shoe polish stain persists, try applying a leather cleaner.
soft drinks stain removal from leather

Soft Drinks

  1. Sponge the area with cold water
  2. Blot dry and repeat if necessary
sunscreen stain removal from leather

Sunscreen

  1. Blot as much of the sunscreen as you can with a clean cloth.
  2. Dampen another cloth with warm water and gently feather the area by working from the edges to the center of the stain.
  3. Sprinkle talcum powder over the area and leave overnight.
  4. Brush off the talc in the morning. If the stain is still there you can either repeat the process or treat using a leather cleaner followed by conditioner.
syrup stain removal from leather sofas and chairs

Syrup

  1. Using a spoon or blunt knife, remove any excess syrup from the couch.
  2. Mix together a few drops of washing-up liquid and water. Work the solution into a foam.
  3. Dip a sponge into the foam without picking up water. Apply the foam to the stained area.
  4. Dry the area with a clean cloth.
  5. Apply a leather cleaner followed by conditioner.
tar stain removal from leather sofas and chairs

Tar

  1. Gently remove any excess tar with a blunt knife or spoon.
  2. Mix carbon tetrachloride and water to form a solution.
  3. After spot testing, apply the solution to the affected area.
  4. Blot dry and repeat as necessary.
toothpast stain removal from leather

Toothpaste

  1. Is the toothpaste completely dry? If so, use a stiff brush to gently brush off the hardened paste. If not, move to Step 2.
  2. A cloth or sponge dampened with warm water will normally remove toothpaste with a bit of persistence.
  3. To complete your leather cleaning process, give the affected area one last going over with a damp cloth.
wine stain removal from leather

Wine

  1. Saturate the area with soda water or (less effective on red wine) warm tap water.
  2. Blot dry with a clean cloth.
  3. Repeat as many times as you need until the stain is gone and the cloth shows no color.
  4. If the stain is old, you may need to use a leather couch cleaner.

Key Points

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