How to Remove Gasoline from Leather
Leather’s super-porous. Depending on the style you have, substances like water or oil may bead and roll off the top, or absorb into the surface within seconds. This largely has to do with the leather’s level of finish (aniline, semi-aniline, pigmented, etc.), but other factors may also affect it, such as its cut and tanning style. Bottom line, the more you know about the kind of leather you have, the more you can protect it from contaminants. Contaminants like gasoline.
I’m blogging about how to remove gasoline from leather because of how particularly ferocious this stain can be. It’s light consistency allows it to penetrate leather’s pores quickly and deeply. Dark, stubborn stains will develop that can be difficult to remove. In some types of leathers more vulnerable to fire, fuel within the leather can be ignited, turning your prize purse into fashion flambe (cigarettes and gasoline-riddled leather is a walking bomb!). But the worst problem of all, the most abominable, zealous, impregnable impurity you will encounter, is the smell.
If you don’t remove gasoline from leather asap, that smell could be there for months, even years if it gets good time to set. While most odors will disappear with age, gasoline is a wild card that is hard to predict. You will want to attack it without mercy, and without delay.
Time’s the Essence
The first thing to do to remove gasoline from leather will be to blot up as much of it as you can with a clean, lint-free cloth. Blot here, and do not wipe, lest you spread the gasoline and force it further into the leather’s pores. You can set the leather item down on top of the cloth if you want, letting handy-dandy gravity pull those oils down for you. Or if you are dealing with a leather car seat, sandwich the cloth under a heavy object. After you have picked up as much gas as you can, you will need to resort to a more potent cleaning method to remove gasoline from leather.
Leather cleaner is the right tool for the job, and I recommend Chamberlain’s Straight Cleaner no. 2. It’s alcohol base allows it to penetrate leather as zealously as gasoline, and is good for a wide range of leather types. Make sure you test it first in a discreet area, and follow any of the leather’s manufacturer instructions if you have them. Apply liberally, but avoiding using too much, lest you dry your leather out or start to pull up some dye. Check out our guide for using Straight Cleaner here.
After your leather’s been cleaned thoroughly, you will want to let it dry naturally. Set it somewhere cool and clean, and away from direct sunlight. It’s best to find a tidy place in the shade on a windy day, allowing nature to work its magic on the scent. You’ll want to follow up with leather conditioner to restore those vital oils and nutrients your leather lost while it was cleaned. Chamberlain’s got you covered again with Leather Care Liniment, and you can check out the guide for that here.
A Few More Party Gags
Both the cleaner and conditioner should have helped clear up the smell a bit, but have no fear if the odor persists! It’s highly doubtful a routine treatment would completely eradicate this tricksy terror. To remove gasoline from leather, you must outmatch its mettle.
The next weapon in your arsenal is going to be corn starch (or baking soda). Sprinkle a bit on overnight. If it turns yellow, it’s picked up some bad stuff. Sprinkle on some more and keep up the pattern until it stops yellowing. Similarly, you can also wrap the leather up with newspapers or packing paper, whose absorbent properties can draw contaminants out of leather. Keep them tight around the infected spot, and allow to sit overnight.
You’ll want to continue your cleaning and conditioning treatments regularly to completely remove gasoline from leather. This means about once or twice a week. Keep an eye on the leather’s texture to make sure it doesn’t start growing mushy. If leather grows mushy, that means it has been overconditioned, which will interfere with its natural breathing process and potentially cause it to rot from the inside out. Keep a feel of your leather, and treat it only as much as you feel safe treating it.
Sleep On It
Last thing to keep in mind is that it may take time to remove gasoline from leather. It may not be that the odor entirely comes out for several weeks. This is especially true for more absorbent and natural leathers, such as aniline or vegetable tanned. The sooner the leather is treated, the greater your chances of removing it will be. If a gasoline stain is left to sit for even a day or two, there may not be a chance for you to get it out for many years. So don’t delay – get cleaning!
Hope this helps leathermancers!
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