Leaf stains are a common problem encountered by any homeowners with outdoor patios, boats, and cars. Tree leaves contain oils passed on from the tree, and each species leaves its own distinct type of stain. Tree oils are difficult to remove and often seep into porous materials. It is important to note that not all stains are easily removed and some may require professional care.
The first step in combating stains is to act quickly and remove leaves from items such as wood furniture or concrete. Never leave items overnight under leaves since water and moisture in the air will quicken the decomposition of the leaves, thereby increasing the chance to develop stains. It is important to note that the ease in which the stain is removed is dependent upon your reaction time, the length of the time the stain has been allowed to set, and the particular material that is stained. When you are trying to remove leaf stains, allow the product time to work, at least 30 minutes, before attempting another method.
Fabric, Leather, and Vinyl
Removing leaf stains from fabric, leather and vinyl requires extra care and for the sake of your covering, you may want to consider seeking a professional's advice first. If you are brave enough to attempt removing the stains on your own, first try washing the stain with a mild soap and water mixture first. Repeat the process if necessary before trying a tougher cleaning solution. Ammonia and water or bleach and water work well on durable fabrics, although test the solution in an inconspicuous spot first to check for color fastness. Never mix ammonia and bleach together because they release a toxic chlorine gas into the air if combined. If your fabric is machine washable, try using a detergent designed for organic stain removal; look for products that list grass and leaf stains on the label. Do not use warm water on fabric since heat causes stains to set in the fabric.
Wood and Concrete
To remove stains from wood and concrete first remove any leaves and debris from the surface area. As with any stain removal process, begin first by trying the least abrasive solution available. Try using a mixture of water and dish soap or laundry detergent. Allow the mixture to set for 10 to 15 minutes on the surface then scrub it into the surface using a stiff brush. A mixture of 1 cup ammonia and 1 gallon water is another mild stain removing solution. If the stain persists, use a mixture of tri-sodium phosphate and water. Tri-sodium phosphate is a powerful all-purpose cleaner and is available at your local home improvement store.
Mix per manufacturer's instructions, allow the mixture to sit on the stain for at least 30 minutes, then using a stiff brush, scrub the stain thoroughly in circular motions. Rinse with clean water and inspect the stain. Repeat the process if necessary. If the stain remains, you may want to consider purchasing a professional strength cleaner designed specifically for stains caused by organic material. Organic stain removers may take longer but work well by breaking down the enzymes within the stain. Ask a store associate for the best product to use for leaf stain removal.