How to remove or clean oil stains from leather?

Oil stains in leather will not disappear with cleaning, but Rub ’n Restore® colors can conceal them. If oil remains in the leather, you may find you have to touch-up the stain more often than in other areas. Follow these steps on how to clean or remove body oil stains from leather.

  1. Prep the area first with denatured or rubbing alcohol. Even lacquer thinner can be used.
  2. Perform the tape test, which determines if leather or vinyl is ready to receive a new finish. If painters’ tape strongly adheres to the surface, such that you have to pry it off with a fingernail, you’re ready to proceed. If the tape does not stick well or curls up along the edges, more aggressive prep is needed. Try lacquer thinner. Acetone can also be used as a last resort with caution.

Do not use baking soda to clean leather. It is too abrasive and too alkaline.

Body oil stains that remain sticky or resist a new finish should first be treated with an oil extractor. If this renders the leather dry and absorbent, then it’s best to follow with this moisturizing gel.

Alternatively an oil blocker can be applied to prevent any residual migration. However, this requires a new finish (color) to be sprayed, as the mechanical process of wiping-on with a sponge or brush will remove the blocker.

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  1. Hi
    I have a butter yellow sofa that is over 20yrs old, flexsteel, and I would like to clean and refinish. Maybe change the color to a lt tan or gray. It is absorbent and stained. Some hairline cracking is present.
    Can you please talke me through the process of what products I will need? Thank you

    • Clean with alcohol. Add more foam or batting to plump up any cushions that may unzip. Apply filler to damaged areas. Work with a glaze (color diluted with clear) for at least the first coat. If you want our assessment and detailed instructions, please submit photos in the evaluation.


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