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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 other areas.

  1. Prep the area first with denatured or rubbing alcohol.
  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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The Knowledge Hub is a library of articles and videos complied to help our customers complete their DIY leather and vinyl restoration projects.