How to clean oil stained leather shoes

Updated November 21, 2016

Leather is a very absorbent material that stains easily, which can make caring for leather shoes a challenge. It is best to pretreat leather shoes with a water repellent spray after purchasing the shoes prior to wearing them to help protect against moisture and stains. However, if shoes are not treated or come in contact with substances such as oil, you can attempt to remove oil stains from leather shoes. If you experience difficulty removing the stains or have questions about treating leather, ask a dry cleaning professional.

Use a clean, soft cloth to gently blot as much oil from the stain as possible. Do not push on the oil, as this will only force it deeper into the leather.

Sprinkle enough cornstarch on the stain to fully saturate and cover the stain area. You can also use talcum powder or baby powder.

Allow the cornstarch to remain on the stain for at least four hours or longer.

Gently wipe away the cornstarch with a clean, dry cloth.

Use a solution of one cup white vinegar and one cup salt if the cornstarch does not completely remove the oil stain. Dab a clean, soft cloth into the vinegar mix and then blot onto the stain. Follow by dabbing a clean cloth into distilled water until slightly damp and then gently wiping the spot. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather shoes
  • Dry cloth(s)
  • Cornstarch
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Distilled water
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About the Author

Meredith Jameson writes early childhood parenting and family health articles for various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from San Francisco State University.