How To Remove Paint From Leather

When investing in a brand spanking new pair of leather shoes, you’ll want to keep them in pristine condition for as long as possible. 

It’s the same with all leather products, whether it’s a pair of shoes, a jacket, or even a sofa – keeping the leather clean and conditioned properly is essential to a product’s quality and durability. 

With this in mind, knowing the most effective methods of cleaning leather, as well as the safest ways of removing paint from the material, is incredibly important. 

In this guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at three of the best methods of removing paint from leather. We’ll also look to answer a couple of the frequently asked questions related to the common problem. 

Using Olive Oil to Remove Paint from Leather

The first method we’ll take a closer look at is the use of olive oil.

  • After you’ve attempted to get the worst of the paint off the leather by dabbing at it using either a paper towel or washcloth, pour a nickel-sized amount of olive oil directly onto the leftover stain.
  • If, however, the paint is located on an irregular or slanted surface, such as the toe box of a shoe, you can apply the olive oil using a washcloth.

  • After you’ve applied oil onto the paint stain, gently massage it into the stain using a circular motion with your fingers. This is effective because the added friction helps to loosen the paint.
  • If successful, you should be able to see the paint residue begin to dissolve almost immediately. It’s worth noting however, for larger stains or stains that contain contrasting colors, it might be a good idea to work the oil into the stain using a brush to facilitate deeper penetration.

  • Let the oil sit for around two to three minutes to fully emulsify the paint, making it easier to remove. Keep in mind that the longer you leave the oil sitting on the stain, the more thorough the removal process should be.

  • To wipe off the excess oil and remaining paint, go over the leather a couple of times with a clean, dry cloth. Ideally, the leather should be blemish-free. If you want to give the leather some extra care, you can also treat the surface with a trusted leather conditioner.

An added bonus of using this method for removing paint from leather is the fact that the olive oil will soften and add a coat of natural waterproofing to the leather. 

Using Soap And Water to Remove Paint from Leather

The next method we’ll look to explain is the relatively straightforward process of using soap and water.

  • First, try to get the worst of the paint off your leather shoe by pressing a paper towel into the affected area to soak up as much of the paint as possible.

  • Then, mix up a gentle soap solution by stirring a small amount of mild liquid dish soap into a bucket of warm water. For the best results, it’s a good idea to stick to something like a standard detergent or hand soap, as anything stronger risks damaging the leather.

  • With the soap solution ready to go, dip a stiff-bristled brush (such as a nylon dish scrubber or an old toothbrush) into the solution and gently shake off any excess water. Following this, wet the paint stain with the soap solution and begin softly scrubbing the affected area.

  • After a few minutes of doing this, wipe the area with a fresh, clean towel, and repeat the process. You should do this until the stain has been completely removed from the leather.
  • Finally, since leather is a natural material, it’s imperative that you thoroughly dry the surface in order to avoid water damage. Failure to do so could result in the residual moisture splitting or cracking the leather. The safest and most effective way to dry the leather is to pat it with a microfiber towel or sponge.

Apply Fingernail Polish 

The final method we’ll take a closer look at might come as a surprise to many. However, fingernail polish isn’t just for nails, it can just as effectively remove paint stains from leather. For the best results, try to use nail polish remover. 

To use this method all you need to do is dab some of the nail polish onto the paint stain until the affected area begins to clear. You can use a paper towel to wipe the paint away gently, but try to avoid rubbing the surface as this could damage the leather. 

It’s worth keeping in mind that several pieces of paper towel may be required to complete the removal process. Moreover, applying a nail polish remover afterwards is also a great way to get rid of the remaining nail polish.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Rubbing Alcohol Be Used To Get Rid Of Paint From Leather?

Yes, rubbing alcohol can be used as an effective method for removing paint from leather due to the fact that it’s composed of chemical compositions that aren’t too harsh when applied on leather. 

Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s good practice to also use a leather conditioner when following this method in order to prevent the leather from drying out. 

Is Vinegar Safe For leather? 

While vinegar is a strong cleaning agent, it can also dry out leather items, so you need to make some adjustments when using it. For example, mixing two parts linseed oil with one part vinegar can create an excellent leather cleaning and conditioning solution that keeps the leather both clean and soft.