In a world that is largely constructed from modern space-age materials, leather remains as popular as ever. Its natural beauty and rugged durability have been admired since the beginning of time. It provides relief from an artificial man-made world and takes us back to a simpler time.
Besides its beautiful appearance and texture, leather is also very resistant to soiling and stains. But if there’s one negative thing you can say about leather, it’s that it’s not particularly easy to clean when it does get dirty. Especially when the culprit is oil or grease.
But don’t despair if your favorite leather sofa, jacket, or purse has been the victim of an ugly oil stain because, with a little bit of care and work, it can be fully restored to its former glory. Read on to learn how to get oil out of leather, and how to get grease out of leather.
How to Get Oil Out of Leather – Detergent Method
The first thing to try with an oil stain is to attack it with a simple light degreasing agent. This method works best on new stains, lightly stained areas, and dyed leathers.
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- Gather your materials; some mild dish detergent, distilled water, and a microfiber cloth.
- Blot up as much of the oil as you can with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Press hard to soak the oil out. If possible, lay a heavy weight on the cloth and let it sit for a time.
- Fill a bowl with warm, not hot, distilled water, add a tablespoon of detergent, and stir the mixture until you have a lather.
- Use a clean cloth or a sponge to apply the detergent mixture to the stain. Don’t soak the leather with water. Gently scour the area using a circular motion until the stain is removed.
- Using another clean cloth, use plain distilled water without detergent to clean the area, again using a circular motion. You can also just use your fingers if you prefer.
- Blot the area with a clean cloth, removing as much moisture as possible, and then let the area dry.
- Inspect the area to see if the stain has been removed. If not, repeat the former steps as needed, letting the stained area dry between cleaning sessions.
After the stain has been removed, treat the cleaned area with a quality leather conditioning product. There are some very good products on the market these days. Do your homework and get the best you can afford.
How to Get Grease Out of Leather – Powder Method
This method works for both oil and grease stains. It’s best for the more serious stains or ones that have been there for a while and have set in. It can also be tried in combination with the detergent method.
- Gather your materials; microfiber cloths, talcum powder, corn starch, wheat germ, or any other fine dry powder. Baby powder is often pure corn starch, check the label ingredients.
- As in the above method, use the microfiber cloths to blot up as much of the excess grease or oil as possible.
- Sprinkle the powder over the stain, making sure it’s completely covered. Allow to sit overnight.
- Using your microfiber cloth, or a fine brush, gently remove the powder from the stain and inspect. Repeat the above steps as needed until the stain is completely removed.
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Pro Tip – An alternative twist to the powder method uses a paste made from baking soda, white flour, sea salt, and distilled water. Apply to the stain and let it sit overnight and brush away the next day. Repeat as necessary.
Again, make sure to finish up with a quality leather conditioning product. Don’t skimp when buying a leather conditioner. A good one may be more expensive, but it will do a lot to enhance the soil and stain resistance of your leather item. Get in the habit of using a leather conditioner on your leather items every few months for maximum protection.
Keep in mind that the sooner you can start the oil or grease stain removal process the better. The longer the stain sits, the harder it will be to get out. Always try to use as little water as possible when cleaning, and let your leather dry in a cool area out of the sunlight and direct heat. UV rays and prolonged direct heat, such as being left in front of a heating vent, can cause the leather to dry out and lead to cracking.
It’s also a good idea to test out these methods on an area of leather that’s not easily seen because they can cause discoloration on some types of leather.
When all else fails, you still have hope. Take your leather item to a professional leather restorer. They have special cleaning materials and know-how and can remove stains when your best attempts have failed.
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