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How to Clean a Leather Water Stain

How to Clean a Leather Water Stain

Posted by Daniel Sutton on Jun 22nd 2014

Water stains on leather can be a difficult problem to fix. Even after a spot’s had time to settle and lighten up, the outlines of your stain will stick with agonizing ferocity. Today, we’re going to help you extinguish your leather water stain and set your leather back at ease.

The best remedy is to get rid of the leather water stain before it has time to set. Grab a clean, lint-free cloth and soak in as much as the water as you can. It’s important to dab here, not wipe. Wiping smears the water and pushes it further into your leather, making it more difficult to get out. Let the water work with you – it’ll absorb. Also, don’t apply artificial heat or set it in sunlight in attempt to dry it faster. Heating leather has the effect of shrinking it, which is something you probably don’t want. You can read more about heat and sunlight’s effects in our blog “How Does Sun Affect Leather?” If the water spill was fairly substantial in volume, you may benefit from giving it a very thin layer of leather conditioner, such as Chamberlain's Leather Care Liniment no. 1, after it dries.

Dry Spots

If your water spot has had time to dry, it will be more difficult to get rid of. There are a few things you can do here. You could try slightly dampening a lint-free cloth and barely wetting the leather's surface seam to seam from the water stain to the edge. This will help the stain to come out evenly with the rest of the leather as you cloth dry it out again. This method is advisable for suede and other unfinished leather (read about finished and unfinished leather in our blog “How to Identify Types of Leather”) that cannot be properly cured by repeatedly cleaning it with a suede brush. Still, you can risk darkening your leather this way, so make sure to be very sparing with the water you use. For most leather, however, (especially finished leather) rubbing alcohol or leather cleaners, such as Chamberlain's Straight Cleaner no. 2, will be your best bet to safely clear up your leather water stain.

You will always want to test any leather treatments before you use them. To test, dab a discreet part of your leather with a white, lint-free cloth, and let your leather cleaner dry. Come back and check the leather for discoloration, excess color rub off on your white cloth, or any other negative effects. If you don’t see any, you should be good. Gently wipe the leather water stain with a small amount of your tested leather cleaner, and wipe off any excess residue. After this, leave it in a cool, clean, indoors location away from sunlight and direct heat. Apply a leather conditioner to the spot (to prevent splotchy drying, you may want to clean and condition your entire leather item when you are performing this task), and buff off any excess residue, leaving it to dry again in the same place as before. Afterwards, let everything settle overnight, and you’ll never be able to tell your leather ever had a blemish.


There we go! Water spot be gone! You pretty much bested planet earth’s most dominant element, so that’s worth a pat on the back or two. Come back next time for another exciting leather care post, and make sure to share your comments and suggestions in the space below! Cheerio, friend!

Daniel Sutton

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