7 Smart and Easy Ways To Get Paint Off Leather

Need to remove paint from leather? There's nothing worse than getting paint on your favorite leather items - whether leather boots or your leather seat.

Here, we've got everything you need to know on how to remove paint from leather, from the various methods to things to consider for removal and more.

When it comes to removing the stains off leather, there are a few different ways to do so, and it's all dependent on what type of paint it is and whether the paint is wet or dry.

Soap, Brush, and Cloth

1. Simply Use Soap, Warm Water, and a Scrub Pad

If the paint is water-based wet or dry paint, it's generally easy to clean. To do so, you can simply use soap, warm water, and a scrub pad. Here's what you'll need:

  • Warm or hot water
  • Gentle soap powder
  • Bucket
  • Scrub Pad or Dry Cloth or soft cloth
  • 1
    To start, you'll want to go and fill a bucket with warm water and add soap - making sure it's completely dissolved.
  • 2
    Then, go ahead and dip the soft cloth in the solution before wiping on the paint stains to remove paint stains.
  • 3
    Let it sit for a few minutes, and you should be good to go. If the paint stains remains, you can try dabbing it with hydrogen peroxide.

2. Olive Oil Or Cooking Oil

If the above doesn't work, olive oil or cooking oil is another method that could help with removing stubborn paint stain. Here's what you need:

  • Cooking or olive oil (in some instances, baby oil could also work)
  • Cotton swab or cotton ball
  • Dull knife
  • Rag
  • Empty spray bottle
  • 1
    Go ahead and dip your cotton swab in the oil before wiping cotton swab lightly on the paint.
  • 2
    Let the oil sit for a couple of minutes before repeating it a few times. If necessary, you can also use the blunt knife to scrape the paint off.
  • 3
    Wipe off any excess liquid with a rag and allow it to dry completely.

3. Petroleum Jelly

Using Petroleum Jelly such as Vaseline can help with paint removal on leather. You'll need:

  • Petroleum jelly
  • A clean dry cloth
  • Soapy water
  • Dull knife
  • 1
    Go ahead and dab a little bit of petroleum jelly on the paint before letting it sit for a few minutes.
  • 2
    After a few minutes, peel all the paint off with the dull knife.
  • 3
    Wipe off any excess paint and Vaseline with a cloth that has been dipped in soapy water. If you have a white couch, make sure that you're using white commercial leather cleaner instead. The leather cleaner will effectively get rid of any paint stains.

4. Finger Nail Polish Remover

Another method to remove paint from leather is using both fingernail polish and nail polish remover. Here's what you require:

  • Nail polish
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paper towel
  • 1
    Gently dab the nail polish onto the stained area until it starts to come off.
  • 2
    Once it does, use a paper towel to gently remove and wipe off the paint from leather. Make sure that you do not rub as it could end up damaging the leather.
  • 3
    Once all of the paint has been removed, you can apply a nail polish remover to the affected area and wipe away any remaining nail polish.

5. Dab with Rubbing Alcohol

If you choose to use rubbing alcohol to remove paint from leather, make sure that you've also got an alcohol leather conditioner to prevent your leather from drying out. Here's what you'd need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Damp cloth
  • Leather conditioner
  • 1
    Wet your cloth with a few drops of rubbing alcohol
  • 2
    Then, go ahead and gently rub it on the stain. Make sure that you're only dabbing it on the paint spot.
  • 3
    Once you're done leather cleaning and the paint has been removed, you can apply cotton swab leather conditioner.

6. Soft Bristle Brush (Try Dry & Wet!)

Soft bristle brushes are also ideal for removal. Here’s what you’d need:

  • A soft bristle brush
  • Dry clean cloth
  • Water that has dish soap
  • 1
    Dip your brush in the water with dishwashing liquid before gently giving a few light strokes on the paint stain. Once the stain has been removed, go ahead and wipe it off with a dry cloth.
  • 2
    Make sure that once you've removed the paint from leather, you're using a natural brush cleaner to
  • 3
    Make sure that once you've removed the paint from leather, you're using a natural brush cleaner to get any paint out of the brush so you can use it for something else.
Soft Bristle Brush

7. Soft Blunt Knife Or Scraper

This way is most effective on acrylic paint; here's what you'll need:

  • A scraper or dull knife
  • Cold water
  • Sponge
  • 1
    If you have wet paint, simply rinse it with water and use a sponge to remove any remnants, and you're good to go.
  • 2
    If you have dry paint, use a dull knife or scraper to remove paint and scrape the stubborn stain. While it might be difficult, make sure you're only using a small amount of pressure to avoid damaging the leather surface.

Best Method To Try Based On Paint Scenario (Tips & Advice)

With so many different types of paints, from spray paint to latex paint and more, it's inevitable that some methods will work better depending on the paint scenario.

Wet Paint

It is easier to remove wet paint in comparison to dried paint, so you'll want to make sure that you're removing the paint stain right away. If you can't, a tip is to lay a wet cloth over it to keep the paint stain moist.

The most convenient way to remove wet paint is with paper towels. Make sure you're not spreading the paint away, and be careful when you remove it. Alternatively, you can also use a water-based solution.

Just mix mild detergent with hot water to create a gentle cleaning agent that you can use to remove the paint from leather with ease. Make sure you're also using gentle pressure, and always finish with a leather conditioner.

Dried Paint

For dry paint or dried paint, try the oil-based method. If it doesn't work on dried paint, you'll then use the non-acetone nail polish remover method to remove dried paint. Again, make sure that you are testing this on a small piece of leather before using it on the entire surface.

If you need to remove stubborn paint from leather, you can use rubbing alcohol. Make sure you're not letting the leather soak with rubbing alcohol, however, as it can cause the leather to dry out. Once you're done, finish with leather conditioner.

Water Based Paints

For water-based paints, rubbing gently with a damp cloth should do the trick. Once it’s soft enough, you should be able to scrape away the remaining paint with a dull knife.

Oil Based Paints

For oil-based paint, you can try using a damp cloth as well. If it doesn't work, try the cooking oil way or using a cloth baby oil and gently rub the paint spot until it's gone. Try not to let the oil soak into the leather.

Once the paint has been removed, wipe with a leather cleaning solution or soapy cloth to remove any excess oil.

Is All Leather The Same? (Things To Consider Before Removal

Similar to paint, not all leather is made equal. Here are some ways to go about cleaning leather depending on what type of leather-based items they are.

Leather Seats & Furniture

When it comes to removing paint from leather seats and leather furniture such as a leather sofa, you'd want to be cautious - especially if you're using the stronger ways with alcohol. If you're unsure if it'll work, always test on a smaller area first, as exposure to certain ways can degrade the natural material.

Leather Shoes/ Boots

With leather shoes or boots, you'll want to be careful with the surface as well. Acetone-based finger nail polish remover tends to work well on leather shoes and boots, but you'll also want to test a smaller area if you're unsure.

With leather shoes, it's also good to finish off with a leather conditioner to restore the shine of leather shoes and ensure that your leather boot or leather shoes will remain long-lasting and durable.[1]

Leather Coat

For this material, cooking or olive oil should be sufficient to remove the paint stain. Since these coats can come in different types, make sure you're also doing spot testing prior, to see how it'll react - especially if you're using acetone fingernail polish remover.

Leather Purse

Fingernail polish remover tends to work well on a leather purse, but you'll want to make sure you're spot-testing before doing leather cleaning. Cooking oil could effectively remove paint from leather, so always test that first before using something stronger.

Faux Leather

The best way to remove paint on this material is with a paper towel if it’s still wet. If it’s dry, you can try scraping or brushing it off before cleaning the area with water and dish soap.

Does vinegar remove paint from leather? Yes, olive oil vinegar can remove paint from leather.

Leather Bag

Removing Paint Off Leather FAQs

How do you remove heavy stains on leather?

Rubbing alcohol is effective on heavy leather stains. Use a small amount and apply leather conditioner afterward.

Does paint thinner damage leather?

Yes, it can damage leather as it's too harsh on the material, so avoid using it on leather.[2]

Can you use vinegar on leather?

Yes, vinegar and water can be used to clean leather furniture. Apply the solution onto a cloth and gently scrub in circular motions to remove dirt.

Can I use WD40 on leather?

Yes, WD40 can be used on leather to make it softer and more supple. However, it should not be used for cleaning leather.

What happens if you bleach leather?

You should not bleach leather. Doing so can damage the leather's natural surface as bleach is too harsh.


Removing paint stains doesn't have to be a chore. Once you've figured out the paint you've used and the type of leather item you have, it makes it much easier to nail down the way that would work best for you.

With that, you'll be cleaning paint and will have a clean leather item in no time at all.


  1. https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-leather-shoe-care-products/
  2. https://favoredleather.com/can-you-use-paint-thinner-on-leather/