How to Remove Stains From a Leather Wallet

Keeping a leather wallet looking new and polished is not hard. General maintenance and cleaning can help leather products look new and last longer. Nearly all leather products, including wallets, are easy to clean with a variety of techniques and solutions. From ink stains to oil stains, virtually any type of stain is removable. However, it is important to note that these cleaning techniques only work with finished leather, as unfinished leather is very fragile and difficult to clean.

Pre-Cleaning Precautions

Owners may not want to jump into cleaning their leather wallets and products without thought, because leather can be very sensitive to water, cleansers, oils, and conditions. Using the wrong product could potentially change the color of the wallet and permanently damage it. Before cleaning any leather product, consumers should read the cleaning directions on the tag to avoid ruining the product.

Acceptable and Inappropriate Cleaning Tools for Leather

In general, leather has a few rules regarding cleaning products. Buyers should take heed of warnings and precautions.


Acceptable Cleaning Tools for Leather

Inappropriate Cleaning Tools for Leather

Rubbing alcohol

Detergents, including dishwashing and laundry detergents

Vinegar and water solutions

Household soaps, including hand and facial soaps

Talcum powder or cornstarch

Hand creams and lotions

Lemon juice and cream of tartar solutions

Baby wipes

Clean cloth

Lanolin creams

Warm water



Many of these products are unsafe for both finished and unfinished leather. If in doubt, refer to the cleaning label on the wallet or product that needs cleaning. Many manufacturers affix a tag with specific cleaning instructions to the product. Depending on the piece, a specific leather cleanser may be necessary, while other products may require professional cleaning.

Testing the Leather

Another useful pre-cleaning precaution is testing the leather. Using the cleanser, test a small and inconspicuous spot of leather with the cleaning product. This determines if the cleanser has negative effects on the leather, without ruining the entire piece. If the leather has a negative reaction, do not proceed with the cleaning.

How to Remove Stains from Leather

Stains are common on leather wallets and similar products. Although furniture pieces are more prone to stains, any leather product is at risk. Fortunately, there are several DIY remedies for removing the stain.

Dark Stains

Dark or discolored spots on leather can be an eyesore. However, they disappear with a mixture of lemon juice and cream of tartar. To remove dark spots, mix one part lemon juice with one part cream of tartar. Once the mixture is ready, liberally rub it into the dark spot, let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes, and then remove with a clean cloth and warm water. If the stain is severe and still noticeable, apply a second application of the mixture and repeat.

Oil and Grease Stains

Oil and grease stains may sound devastating, but they are actually easy to remove. Do not use water or soap on the mixture. Instead, let the stain sit for a minute and then blot the excess oil away with a dry cloth. Afterwards, apply a liberal coating of talcum powder or cornstarch to the spot. Let sit overnight, and then wipe away with a dry cloth.

Salt Stains

Dropping a leather wallet in the wintertime can result in salt stains. To remove, make a solution of three parts vinegar to one part water. For example, combine 3 tablespoons vinegar with a single tablespoon of water, and then mix thoroughly. Apply the solution to the spot; let air dry.

Ink Stains

A leaking pen may leave a leather wallet stained and ugly, but that does not mean it is completely ruined. Rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl) is a handy cleanser for leather. To remove an ink stain, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and apply it to the stain. Rub gently to lift out any ink. Let sit with the rubbing alcohol on the wallet for 30 minutes, or overnight depending on the severity of the stain. Afterwards, wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Mildew Stains

Like ink stains, mildew stains are completely curable with rubbing alcohol. Instead of applying it directly to the stain, make a solution of rubbing alcohol. Mix a cup of rubbing alcohol with a cup of lukewarm water, and then dip a clean cloth into the mixture. Wring out any excess and gently apply it to the stain. Do not wipe clean. Instead, let the piece air dry.


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