Oil stains in leather must be cleaned before a new color or finish can be applied to restore appearance. Here’s how:
- Clean the area first with denatured alcohol. Lacquer thinner is even better.
- 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. Continue cleaning with a stronger solvent to see if any improvement is made. Acetone can be used with caution.
Do not use baking soda to clean leather. It is too abrasive and too alkaline. Take care not to over-scrub or chafe the leather.
If oil stains remain sticky or repel a new finish, here are your options in order of difficulty:
- Rub ‘n Restore® colors will cover darker oil stains. Decide if you prefer to match the rest of the leather and periodically touch-up the oil stain OR change the rest of the leather to match the oil stain.
- Use an oil extractor. This is a time-consuming process and may leave the leather dry and in need of a moisturizing gel.
- Use an oil blocker. This requires the new finish to be sprayed, as the mechanical process of wiping-on with a sponge or brush will remove the blocker.