The Ultimate Guide to Removing Stains From Leather

If you find yourself on this page, you’re most likely at a long end of fruitless attempts to get a stain off something leather. Whether a couch, leather wallet, jacket, or handbag, an unsightly stain can ruin the entire aesthetic of a high-quality leather good. Trust us, we know how annoyed you must be at this point. Luckily, there are several ways, some generations old and others only possible through modern chemicals, that can get out that tough stain. Before we go any further, however, be warned that some stains will never come out due to leather’s porous nature.


Knowing Your Leather

Before you attempt to clean your leather, it’s important to know what type of leather it is. If it is fake or vegan leather then the cleaning process will be quite different. The quality and treatment of the leather also matter. Unfinished, delicate leather, for example, cannot be cleaned the same way as top-grain leather as you find in a leather wallet or handbag. If you are working with unfinished leather always make sure to contact a professional because this type of leather is extremely delicate.


The Basic Tools

Before you start it’s best to gather all the basic tools you will need to start cleaning your leather. Depending on the substance you might need a specific chemical, but these are the basics that everyone will require:

  • Plastic gloves and mask (for working with toxic chemicals)
  • A spoon or a blunt knife
  • A toothbrush or other soft brush
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Soft cloth
  • Sponge
  • Bucket with warm water

Once you’ve gathered all your materials, it’s time to identify what type of stain you’re working with.


How To Clean Different Stains Off Leather

How you clean the stain is going to depend on what caused it. Here you will find the most common types of stains and the best way to clean them.

Food Residue

Most food residue is very easy to clean off of treated leather. Ketchup, pasta sauce, berries, and other food products can be handled with a bit of water with mild soap and a towel or sponge. Simply moisten the towel or sponge with your soapy water and rub the food residue off.

If it is particularly tough or has had time to dry, try using a toothbrush with a small amount of force. After, blot the moist spot dry with a clean towel. If the stain still persists you can move on to the more intense method.


Saturate the area with soda water or warm tap water if you can’t find anything with bubbles. Using a clean sponge or cloth, blot the stain with the soda water, rinsing, and repeat for as long as it takes for the color to disappear (this may take many times).

Follow up the blotting with a little bit of leather cleaner which you can find at any hardware store.


The key to getting a blood stain out, no matter what material you’re working with, is cold water. Never, ever, ever put hot water on a blood stain. If your bloodstain is dry, first try brushing it off with a stiff brush. If this doesn’t work or the blood stain is fresh then begin by sponging off any access blood. Follow this by saturating the remaining stain with plenty of soda water then drying with a paper towel.

Next, prepare a light solution of cold water and soap and dab the spot, drying it and repeating for as long as necessary. If you’re still unsuccessful you may need to turn to a leather cleaner to remove the stain.


If you ever get a grass stain on your leather wallet, act quickly. Grass (and most all plants) contain chlorophyll which is a dye.

First, create a solution of white vinegar and water. Apply this liberally to the leather with a sponge and then blot dry. Continue to repeat this until there is no grass residue remaining. If you don’t act quick enough and the stain has set in, this will require professional cleaning.


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