How to Clean Dark Stains Off Leather

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Things You'll Need

  • Mild dish soap

  • Cold water

  • Bowl

  • Cloth rag

  • Hair dryer (optional)

  • Fan (optional)

  • Aerosol hairspray

  • Linseed oil

Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely remove some dark stains.

Leather is both comfortable and luxurious. Its strong appeal diminishes, however, when a stain sets in. If you see a dark stain on your leather couch, chair or leather clothing, take immediate action to prevent the stain from setting in further. Remove small to moderate dark stains with a soap solution and large dark stains with hairspray. You may need to clean the stain several times before seeing positive results, but restoring the leather to its former glory is worth it.

Removing Small to Moderate Dark Stains

Step 1

Mix mild dish soap and cold water in a bowl or bucket. Add enough soap so the water becomes sudsy when agitated.

Step 2

Dip a clean cloth into the soap solution and rub the stain with moderate pressure. Make a circular motion around the stain and continue to rub until the stain is gone. Use multiple applications of the soap solution if necessary.

Step 3

Air dry the the wet spot. A hair dryer or fan may be used to shorten the process. Do not sun dry the leather; this causes more damage.

Removing Severe Dark Stains

Step 1

Spray aerosol hairspray directly onto the stain. Make sure the entire stain is covered and allow the hair spray to soak in the stain for several minutes.

Step 2

Rub out the stain with a clean cloth rag. Use circular motions until the stain is lifted. Add more hairspray if necessary.

Step 3

Air dry the wet spot by leaving the leather undisturbed. Do not leave the leather exposed to the sun during the drying process.


Cleaning removes essential oils from leather. Apply linseed oil to the washed spots to prevent cracking and brittleness. Rub the oil in with a clean cloth rag.


David Montoya

David Montoya is an attorney who graduated from the UCLA School of Law. He also holds a Master of Arts in American Indian studies. Montoya's writings often cover legal topics such as contract law, estate law, family law and business.