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How to remove a grease stain from leather shoes

Updated February 21, 2019

Although leather shoes can be pricey, leather is durable and can be a good investment. With proper care, leather shoes will remain classy and comfortable for years. If your leather shoes have been the victim of an unfortunate grease stain, don't despair, and don't wait. Even a few hours can make the difference between successfully removing the grease or being stuck with the stain for the life of your leather shoes.

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  1. Blot grease from your leather shoes with a soft cloth as soon as possible. Never rub, as rubbing may damage the leather and set in the grease stain.

  2. Cover the remaining grease stain completely with a generous amount of cornflour or white talcum powder, which will usually absorb the grease. Allow the leather to set for 10 to 12 hours, then brush the powder from the leather.

  3. Treat suede leather with vinegar if cornflour or talcum powder doesn't remove the grease. Dip a soft cloth in vinegar, then squeeze out the excess vinegar so the cloth is lightly damp. Dab the stain with the damp cloth. Brush the suede with a suede brush to dry the suede and restore the nap. Don't attempt to use vinegar on leather types other than suede.

  4. Remove a stubborn grease stain with a commercial leather degreaser if other techniques fail. Apply the degreaser carefully according to the product label.

  5. Tip

    Call a leather cleaning specialist if at-home techniques don't work or if you feel uncertain about removing the stain.


    A commercial leather degreaser should be the first line of defence for nubuck leather, as nubuck is easily damaged and difficult to clean. Nubuck leather also requires the use of a special cloth or brush.

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Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Cornflour or white talcum powder
  • Vinegar
  • Suede brush

About the Author

M.H. Dyer

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

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