How to remove dye transfer stains on leather

Dye transfer from clothing on light leather colours is not uncommon. Automotive and furniture leather are the ones mostly affected. The discolouration is caused by a wide variety of clothing. Jackets, pants and belts cause such stains. Denim, stretch fabrics and other types of fabrics may transfer dyes that are not fixed.

Heavy dye transfer on furniture leather.
Dye from jeans and discolouration from a belt on car seats.

In most cases, the dye transfer can be removed by a simple cleaning process. If you wait too long, the dye penetrates into the leather surface and It’s impossible to remove such stains with conventional water based leather cleaners.

We recommend using COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner with the COLOURLOCK Leather Cleaning Brush for the first attempt to remove dye transfer stains. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the stains must additionally be cleaned with COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent. The GLD Solvent is a solvent based product and we always recommend using a water based cleaner first. 

Lightly damp a white cloth with GLD-Solvent and carefully clean the stained areas. Always test in a hidden area first! GLD-Solvent slightly dissolves the colour coating. When trying to remove the discolouration, also the leather colour can be removed. Be very careful not to remove too much.

If too much colour is removed or visible stains remain, such areas can be recoloured with COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh. In areas where a high opacity is required, apply several layers and dry in between with a hair dryer.

To avoid further dye transfer stains in future, the leather should be regularly protected with COLOURLOCK Leather Shield. COLOURLOCK Leather Shield offers excellent protection against dye transfer. Only apply Leather Shield on clean leather.

With luck, COLOURLOCK Mild or Strong Leather Cleaner...

... removes the stains.

In case of penetrated dye, COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent has to be used additionally.

Remaining stains can be adjusted with COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh in correct colour.


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Is COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner always first choice?

COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner is a water-based product. The COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner is for heavily soiled leather such as leather from vintage cars, furniture in gastronomy etc. As most dye transfer stains are local, there is a fairly good chance to remove stains with the The COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner.

How many cleaning attempts do you need with COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner?

If the stains are removable, two to three cleaning attempts should show good results. If there is no success after two cleaning procedures and a soaking time of about one to two minutes, the discolouration is inside the colour layer and can't be removed with water-based cleaners.

Which care products do I use in the future for such leather?

COLOURLOCK Leather Shield is a protection against abrasion, stains and discolouration. If leather is sensitive to discolouration, COLOURLOCK Leather Shield should be used regularly. This is not necessary if a strong colouring textile was the reason behind the stains. But if the leather is generally sensitive, this recommendation is true for all contact areas. Traditional care products contain oils and waxes to soften the leather. But they also soften the colour layer and make them somewhat sticky. This promotes soiling and discolouration. As long as the leather doesn't appear to be too dry, COLOURLOCK Leather Shield is the first choice for the contact areas. The rest can be treated as recommended for furniture leather.

What do I do with other types of leather?

There are many types of leather. The recommendation above for leather with discolouration from textiles is for pigmented, monochrome, semi-gloss smooth leather. In case of other leather types, always consult a leather specialist first. Such leather is mostly sensitive and the damage can increase.

What do I do with synthetic leather?

In case of artificial leather (synthetic leather, vinyl etc.) COLOURLOCK Vinyl Cleaner is the first choice. If this doesn't succeed, COLOURLOCK GLD won't help either. The colour layer on leather can be dissolved in most cases and can be refreshed. But this is not possible on artificial leather. If the dye transfer is resistant, there is no way to clean it. Even specialists have little chance, and even a colouration of the stain carries the risk that the ink moves through the new colour layer to the top and becomes visible again. Specialists use a blocker to avoid this. Ask a specialist for advice. But not all dye transfer stains on artificial leather can be cleaned or hidden.

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