How to Remove Oil From Leather Shoes

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A man using a rag to clean his leather boots.
Image Credit: lofilolo/iStock/Getty Images

Whether they're boots, sandals or dress shoes, leather shoes are often expensive and can be indispensable to your lifestyle. That's why it's so essential to remove oil from shoes right away rather than letting the stain sit and set. It's easier to get these stains out than you might assume, and often, all you need are simple household items.

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Cornstarch to Remove Oil From Shoes

One of the easiest ways to remove oil from shoes is to use a household item, such as cornstarch, as a leather stain remover. First, pour a generous amount of cornstarch onto the oil stain. The amount you need depends on how large the stain is on the shoe but make sure to use enough to cover it without making a mess. Note that you may want to lay down a towel or small tarp to complete this task to avoid a mess.

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Next, rub the cornstarch vigorously into the stain on the shoe. You should feel some heat in your fingers from the friction. Once you do, wipe off the cornstarch to see if the stain is gone. If not, repeat all the steps until you entirely remove the stain with this makeshift leather shoe cleaner.

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Using Household Items to Remove Oil From Shoes

If you're using baking soda for your leather stain remover, mix equal parts baking soda and warm water, starting with about a tablespoon of each. Then, soak a microfiber cloth in the mixture and gently blot the stain. As you blot, the oil should gradually absorb out of the leather.

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Another common household item that can remove oil from leather is talcum powder, commonly referred to as baby powder. Unlike baking soda, you don't have to mix the talcum powder with anything. Just sprinkle it onto the shoe and gently press it into the stain. Let it sit overnight and wipe it with a tissue the next day.

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You can also use white vinegar for this purpose. To protect the leather from the acid in the vinegar, dilute 1 tablespoon of vinegar in 1 cup of water. Soak a cotton ball or sponge in this mixture and then dab the oil stain. Allow it to dry completely and the stain should be gone.

Using a Leather Stain Remover

Of course, you don't have to use one of these do-it-yourself methods. You can buy a professional leather stain remover and use that instead. The reality is that most of us don't have one of these products lying around, though, and time is of the essence when removing oil stains from leather shoes.

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If you want to use this kind of remover, you can buy these products online from Amazon, Zappos and similar places or at stores like Target and Walmart.

Save Your Shoes While You're On the Go

When you're at home, these methods are great, but what do you do when you're out and about? After all, accidents don't happen at convenient times.

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The best thing to salvage your shoes is to blot the stain immediately. Ideally, use a paper napkin or paper towel and dab the stain to remove as much oil as possible. As soon as you get home, use one of these methods to complete the process. The faster you can remove the oil, the better.

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