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how to get paint off leather

9 Working Ways to Remove Paint From Leather

Are you stuck with a leather item that has been marred with paint stains that you simply can't get rid of? Have you just got acrylic paint on your favorite leather shoes and need an urgent helping hand to learn how to get paint off leather fast? Have you tried everything else and don't know where else to turn for help?

Then you have found yourself in the right place, for today we will be exploring 9 of the most effective ways to remove paint stains from leather with a minimum of effort on your part.

how to get paint off leather

Cooking Oil

Some stains can be removed even with just a little olive oil. Thus, the solution of how to get paint off leather can be as simple as that, though many also recommend using a leather conditioner (and you might also try using baby oil - great for leather smell).

  • Dip a cotton swab in the oil and wipe the paint lightly, allowing the oil to penetrate the surface for a few minutes. Repeat this a few times as necessary.
  • If necessary, use a knife to gently scrape the paint off, though do so at your own risk and discretion.
  • Use a solution of vinegar and baking to remove the excess oil (this is a great way to remove paint stains from leather shoes and polish leather boots too).

Warm Water

In some instances, it might even be possible to remove a paint stain with warm water via a damp cloth. This is especially the case if the paint is water-based, whether it still be wet paint or already dried on the leather surface. Discretion is advised in the case of oil-based paints.

  • Wet a towel or cloth with clean warm water and wipe the paint with as little effort as possible.
  • For stains from dried paint, fill an empty spray bottle with warm and saturate the stained area, leaving the water for at least 20 minutes (like a leather cleaner).
  • Finish up by wiping with a clean and dry cloth.

Soapy Water

Water alone may not be enough to rid the leather furniture of the stain, though you might not need anything much more than soapy water. Sometimes, it can be all it needs to just gently rub the thing. The gentler the soap, the better.

  • Fill a bucket with water and add the soap, ensuring that it dissolves completely.
  • Dip a cloth in the solution and wipe with the grain on the paint stains, allowing it to sit for a few minutes.
  • If the stain still persists, dab it with hydrogen peroxide.
  • If you are dealing with footwear, then give the shoes a good polish after cleaning using a leather conditioner so that you can cotton swab leather conditioner onto them.

Soft Bristled Brush

In some instances, it might be necessary to apply a little more force to the leather item in question, forgoing the use of a paper towel for something with a little more bite.

  • Dip the brush in soapy water, shaking off the excess and giving the leather a few light strokes.
  • Finish by wiping down with a dry cloth.
  • It is important to remove the paint from the brush by using a natural brush cleaner so that it can be used in the future for something else.
  • Use a comb to flick the paint pieces out and soak or dip the brush in a cleaning solution to rid it of lingering debris.

Rubbing Alcohol

Perhaps your attempts to be the good cop up to this point have proved fruitless, in which case you will have to resort to more extreme measures such as rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.

  • Wet a damp cloth with a few drops of rubbing alcohol.
  • Gently rub it into the stained leather, ensuring that you target the paint spot only.
  • Apply leather conditioner afterward to ensure that the leather doesn't dry out and crack.

Fingernail Polish

Despite the name, this kind of polish is not just for nails. Rather, it can also be used to remove paint from leather, especially when paired with nail polish remover.

  • Dab the stain with nail polish on a cloth or cotton swab until it begins to come off.
  • Use a paper towel and wipe the paint gently away - do not rub vigorously as this could easily damage the leather.
  • Use several pieces of paper towel to avoid reintroducing the paint to the leather.
  • Apply nail polish remover to remove the remaining nail polish.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jellies like Vaseline are a great way to moisten and then loosen paint stains on leather, meaning that they don't necessarily need to be conditioned afterward. This is especially true for white leather items, which need a little more attention and care after the fact.

  • Dab some petroleum jelly on the paint stain, letting it sit for a few minutes until the paint can be peeled off carefully with a fingernail or a sharp object like a knife.
  • Wipe away excess paint and Vaseline with a soapy cloth.
  • If the leather item you are removing the stain from is white, then you ought to use a white commercial leather cleaner at this stage.

Blunt Knife

Of course, if you act fast enough you can just as easily use a blunt knife to remove the stain. Acrylic paint does dry fast, but if you act quickly enough you can remove it from the leather item in question. For a more stubborn paint stain, seek the advice on dry paint above.

  • Rinse wet paint with water, using a sponge to remove the remaining paint and water.
  • Use a dull knife or scraper on dry paint, working at the stain with only a light amount of pressure so as not to damage the leather.
  • If these steps do not work, then try using a commercial leather cleaner. Spot-test the affected area and follow the instructions on the products, wiping away excess fluid with a cloth.

Clean Wet Rag

It doesn't get much simpler than trying to tackle the issue with a wet rag soaked in your hopes and dreams.

  • Gently rub the paint stain with a wet cloth until the stain has left the building.
  • Finish cleaning the leather by wiping it dry with a dry rag. It's okay if the leather isn't completely dry as this will likely take a bit of time on its own. As long as the surface appears dry and has been rid of any excess moisture, it should be fine, lest the item become warped and distorted at the hands of spare moisture.
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Final Words

So, there you have it! Hopefully, you are now feeling ready and able to remove those pesky and persistent paint stains from your favorite leather item!

FAQs How to Get Paint Off Leather


Though vinegar is often utilized to clean leather, its effectiveness at removing paint stains from leather is apocryphal. When used for cleaning leather, vinegar is mixed with water in a solution of equal parts which, when rubbed into leather in circular motions, can lift dirt out of the natural fibers. The same may be true for the removal of paint, though there is little research into it.


In most instances yes, though the severity of the stain will have an impact on how easy it is to remove the stain and how much damage you might do to the leather after the fact. Some stains, for example, might have a tight grip on the leather to the point that it requires some strong cleaning products and some extra elbow grease to remove the stain. These two things combined usually won't do the leather too much good and might even inflict their own set of stains and micro-aggressions onto the leather surface.


There are a number of methods you can try, each based on the kind of paint you are working with, the severity of the stain, and how long the stain has been left to do its thing. Water-based paints can usually just be removed with some warm water, some soap in some instances, and a minimum of effort from a damp cloth. Acrylic paint is a little more difficult and if you haven't acted fast and removed the paint before it dried, you will likely need something a little stronger to remove it, perhaps some rubbing alcohol or nail polish and nail polish remover.

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