How to Get Rid of Blue Jean Stains from Leather Seats

Heather says:

This question came from the Home-Ec 101 Facebook Fanpage (you’re a fan, right?)

How do I remove the stains from my blue jeans from my car’s white leather seats.

What you’re dealing with is known as dye transfer and it’s very important to not leap on the first home remedy you hear or you may end up setting the dye and making the stain much more difficult, if not impossible to remove.

Your best bet is to use leather cleaner, preferably one recommended by the manufacturer of your automobile. The solvents in a quality leather cleaner are designed to not dry out the leather, but often they need time to work. You won’t get the best results if you just rub on and rub off. Apply the leather cleaner to the blue jean stain and go find something else to do for a little while. Come back to the stain and remove the leather cleaner with a soft cloth. Try not to rub too hard, it’s better to reapply the leather cleaner than to damage the leather by rubbing too hard.

Once you have removed all of the dye transfer from your seat, you’ll need to condition the leather with leather conditioner. Again,I suggest using the brand recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

These steps will not only help you remove the blue jean dye transfer from your car’s leather upholstery, but you’ll do so in a manner that won’t damage the leather or void any warranties.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

 

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  1. Dye Transfer is the dyestuff transferred to leather from clothing, newsprint or from hair dyes and fake tans. It is more usually seen on light coloured, protected, leathers but it can occur on any leather, though not as noticeably. Basically the jean dye has redyed the leather. It is a very common problem.
    It is crucial to check the type of leather you have before attempting any remedies.If you have an aniline style leather (one that absorbs moisture) the dye is likely to be permanent as it will have been absorbed inti the leather itself.If you have a protected(pigment coated, finished) leather (one that does not absorb moisture) theres much more chance of removal.If noticed early enough dye on pigment coated leather can be successfully removed from most pigment coated leather with a Jean and Dye Transfer Removal Kit. This contains specifically formulated (by leather technologists) products for this problem. If this cleaning process does not resolve the problem it will be necessary to call in an experienced technician as early as possible. The longer the dye sits in/on the leather the harder it will be to remove.Using a good quality protector and cleaning on a regular basis will help to inhibit dye transfer as the dye will sit on the protector and not on the finish of the leather. This also makes it much easier to clean off.Owners of pale and off-white leather are recommended to adopt a gentle regular cleaning and protecting regime using good quality maintenance and protection products (not conditioners as these actually attract more dirt) Please do not use anything containing waxes or oils on your leather as these will not help and polishes may seal the surface and prevent further cleaning.Never use Magic Erasers to clean leather as these are a very fine sand paper and will damage the finish on the leather causing long term problems.Saddle soap, vinegar and old wives tales such as hairspray should also be avoided as these can damage the finish on the leather which will be expensive to fixProducts sold in furniture stores and supermarkets are not generally strong enough products resolve this problem. Always take expert advice when dealing with leather as they will help you avoid expensive problems.Please do not use saddle soap which is meant for saddles and not the type of leather you have. It is too harsh for modern leather finishes and could damage the leather.Hope this helpsJudybProfessional leather care consultant to the cleaning, furntiure and automotive industries

    • I use baby wipes then leather conditioner. It works great for cleaning the leather and is cost effective.

  2. Marthalynn says:

    I know this is an old post, but hopefully someone will find this useful. We were given a very nice white leather couch and chair from a coworker recently. It was a modern design and cost several thousand brand new. The owner didn’t want it anymore because it had cat scratches and denim dye transfer on it. I tried to live with it for about a day and decided it was too beat up for my tastes, so we looked into having it restored. A friend of ours (who works in the service department for Lexus) recommended a local guy they use to restore auto leather. Best decision ever! They guy charged $300 and basically sanded out the scratches and repainted the leather. No, it’s not as pretty as it was brand new, but it was pretty darn close. We turned around and sold the set for $1200.