remove oil stains leather boots

How to Remove Oil Stains from Leather Boots

Nothing can be more annoying than getting your new leather boots soiled with oil stains. Oil stains are generally hard to remove from leather, due to the porous nature of the material, causing it to absorb and hold onto the oil.

If you want to lift these stains from your leather boots, you should act as soon as possible, before they have the chance to set. While most people think that this requires expensive products, you’ll be happy to know that this is not the case.

To remove oil stains from your leather boots, all you need are a few household items, such as vinegar, baking soda, dish soap, lemon juice, or salt. In this article, we will teach you three different methods that you can use.

Method 1: Dish Soap & Baking Soda

Baking soda and dish soap work well together for tackling oil stains on leather boots. Dish soap effectively cuts through grease and oil, while baking soda acts as an absorbent and mild abrasive that can easily lift oil stains.

Here’s how you can make use of these two ingredients:

  1. Remove Excess Oil with an Absorbent Towel
    In this method, the first step to cleaning away oil from your leather boots is to use an absorbent towel on the stains. Ensure to dab the oil stain with the towel, and make sure not to drag the cloth while cleaning. Dabbing the stain gently will help you keep from spreading the oil to different parts of your leather boots.
  2. Apply a Dish Soap Solution on the Stained Area
    The next step in the process is to make a solution of dish soap (30%) and water (70%). The dish soap effectively removes oil from leather shoes and can break down the oil stain completely. Nevertheless, you need to ensure that the dish soap solution is not overly runny before application. Dab the dish solution on the oil-stained area and ensure reduced water exposure to the leather material.
  3. Apply Baking Soda to the Stained Area
    After breaking down the oil stain, you’ll need to apply baking soda. Start by rubbing some baking soda gently on the stained oil spot with your fingers, or use a toothbrush to massage it in. Leave the baking soda on the leather for about an hour, until it has absorbed the oil from the leather.
  4. Remove the Cleaning Solution with a Wet Cloth
    Next, brush away the baking soda from your leather boots. After cleaning the baking soda off the boots as much as possible, you must remove the soap solution and the remaining baking soda with a damp cloth. Ensure that the cloth you use is damp and not wet. You may need to wipe the stain multiple times before the leather is completely clean.
  5. Wipe Your Boots Dry
    If you notice the stain persisting on the leather, we recommend repeating the aforementioned steps. However, if the stain has been removed completely from the boots, you need to clean them with a towel and leave them in a shaded, well-ventilated, and cool area where they can dry easily. Ensure they are completely dry before the next use!

Method 2: White Vinegar & Water

Although many people aren’t aware, white vinegar is a great stain-removing agent for leather due to its great astringent properties. It is a very mild type of acid that can help break down oil. When combined with water, it can effectively remove oil stains from your leather boots.

Here’s how you can use white vinegar and water as an effective cleaning solution:

  1. Remove Excess Oil with an Absorbent Towel
    The first step to removing excess oil is to use an absorbent towel to soak it up. You can press on the stain gently with the towel so that the oil transfers from the leather to the towel.
  2. Create A Cleaning Solution With White Vinegar
    Once the extra oil has been lifted from your leather boots, mix 1 part of water with 1 part of white vinegar to create a cleaning solution. Ensure to mix the solution well.
  3. Apply White Vinegar Solution Onto The Oil Stain
    Once you have made the white vinegar cleaning solution, you need to apply it using a soft cloth or a cotton ball. Be sure to dampen the cotton ball or cloth lightly and gently rub the stain in small circular motions. This will prevent the stain from spreading to other clean parts of the leather and remove the oil particles. If the oil stain on your leather boots is quite large, you can also use a spray bottle to spray the solution on the footwear. Allow the solution to sit for at least 5 to 10 minutes before wiping it away, and reapply the solution to the boots if the stain persists.
  4. Clean Remaining Spots With Soap Solution (Optional)
    After the white vinegar solution has been wiped away, you can also use a soap solution to remove oil residue that appears harder to remove. If the stain is not completely gone after a few applications, applying a soap solution after cleaning with vinegar can be quite helpful. You can use a dishwashing soap or a dedicated leather cleaner product for this step. Wiping your leather boots with a soft and damp cloth with this soap solution will also help you get rid of any dirt spots present on the leather boots.
  5. Wipe Your Leather Boots Dry
    Once you have completed the cleaning steps, you must allow your leather boots to dry completely before use. The boots should be set aside for ideally a few hours after cleaning or until they are fully dry.
  6. Condition Your Leather Boots
    Since extended exposure to water can cause the leather to dry out and cause its lubricating oils to evaporate, you should condition your leather boots after cleaning them. We recommend applying a dedicated leather conditioner to your leather boots, paying special attention to the areas that were cleaned with water and white vinegar solution. You can take a soft microfiber cloth and use it to apply a dedicated leather conditioner to your leather boots. Wipe away the excess with a clean, dry cloth, and you’ll be left with a fresh-looking pair of leather boots.

Method 3: Lemon Juice & Salt

If you are looking for another home-based solution for removing oil stains from your leather boots, you could try using lemon juice and salt. Lemon juice can be a highly effective oil stain remover since it has acidic properties and can help dissolve oil effectively.

  1. Remove Excess Oil with an Absorbent Towel
    The first step is to remove any excess oil from the leather using an absorbent towel. The absorbent towel will lift most of the oil particles from the leather, making a good starting point for cleaning.
  2. Create a Cleaning Solution with Lemon Juice
    After removing excess oil from the leather, you need to create a cleaning solution using 70% water and 30% lemon juice. This combination will help break down the oil particles on the stain and clean it effectively. It will also help dilute the lemon juice so it does not damage the leather material.
  3. Apply the Lemon Juice Solution to the Oil Stain
    Dampen a soft cloth or cotton ball with the lemon juice solution lightly and apply it to the oil stain on your leather boots. Make sure to gently dab the stain instead of rubbing it, so it does not spread. You can also use a spray bottle to apply the lemon juice solution to the leather boots. It can make oil-stain removal much easier. Allow your boots to sit up for almost 10 minutes before moving on to the next step.
  4. Apply the Salt to the Oil-Stained Portion of the Boot
    To get the oil stains completely out of the leather boots, you will need to apply some salt to the stain as well. We recommend gently dabbing salt onto the stain and ensuring not to add too much salt. Simply sprinkle salt on the oil-stain on top of the lemon juice solution and let the boots sit for at least 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the Lemon Juice Solution and Salt from Your Boots
    Once the stain has been lifted with the lemon juice and salt mixture, you must wipe away the cleaning solution and salt on the boots. We recommend using a damp cloth to wipe the entire surface of the leather boots to ensure it is free of any residue. When the leather boots have been cleaned properly, allow them to dry before moving on to the next step.
  6. Condition Your Leather Boots & Let Them Dry
    The last step in the process is to condition your leather boots as both salt and lemon juice tend to dry out the leather. Conditioning your leather boots will allow you to restore the natural suppleness of the leather and keep them looking shiny and fresh. It will also keep them from drying out and ensure the leather remains nourished for a long time.

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!