5 Reasons Mud Stains Leather Plus One Easy Fix That Works!

does mud stain leather

It’s common to have mud on leather items like shoes and boots. But does it actually stain the leather? Here’s what you need to know about mud and leather.

The main concern with mud on leather is that it can cause the leather to dry out, crack, and break down over time. However, red mud can stain leather if it’s not cleaned off promptly.

In the rest of this article, I will share with you;

  • the reasons why mud can stain leather,
  • what do mud stains on leather look like, and
  • how to remove mud stains from leather.

Stick around for more!

Why Does Mud Stain Leather?

Mud can permanently stain leather if it is not removed quickly and correctly. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Mud Contains Dirt That Wears Down The Leather

Mud can stain leather if it is not cleaned off quickly. The reason is that mud contains dirt which can wear down the leather over time and make it look distressed and old.

The mud wears down the leather surface, but it can also be abrasive and cause the leather to scratch and scuff up pretty easily.

2. Mud Can Attract Mold And Mildew

Mud can cause mold and mildew to form on the leather if it is not cleaned off promptly. The mud will hold in moisture and create a breeding ground for mold and mildew to grow.

As we all know, mold and mildew can cause discoloration, staining, and deterioration of the leather. So it’s important to clean mud off leather as soon as possible to avoid these problems.

3. Mud Contains Earth Pigments

Mud can also contain earth pigments that can actually stain leather. One type of mud, red mud, is known for its staining properties.

If you have mud on your leather and it’s not cleaned off quickly, the earth pigments can actually seep into the leather and cause a permanent stain.

4. Mud Alkaline

Leather is a material that is pH balanced. This means that it is neither too acidic nor too alkaline.

Mud, on the other hand, is quite alkaline, with pH levels between 8 and 12. And when mud comes into contact with leather, it can actually disrupt the pH balance and cause the leather to discolor or stain.

5. Mud Contains Natural Tannins

Mud also contains natural tannins, which can actually react with the leather and cause staining. Tannins are a type of organic compound that is found in tree bark, leaves, fruit skins, and mud.

Some of the most common examples of tannin-containing products are tea, coffee, and wine. And like these other products, if mud with tannins comes into contact with leather, it can cause staining.

What Do Mud Stains On Leather Look Like?

Mud stains on leather can vary in appearance depending on the type of mud and leather. Here are a few examples:

1. Brown or Black Mud on Light-Colored Leather

Brown or black mud on light-colored leather will often look like a dirty spot or streak. It can be difficult to remove these types of stains; if you’re not careful, you can cause serious damage to the leather.

2. Red Mud on Dark-Colored Leather

Red mud on dark-colored leather usually looks like a reddish-brown or rust-colored stain. This type of stain is usually easier to remove than brown or black mud stains.

This is mainly because the darker color of the leather will help mask any damage you might cause while trying to remove the stain.

3. White Mud on Any Type of Leather

Leather is a natural material made from the skin of animals. It’s no wonder, then, that it can be stained by all sorts of things – including mud.

Mud can cause two types of stains on leather: dark and light. Dark mud stains are caused by wet mud that contains organic matter, such as leaves or grass. The organic matter in the mud can leave a dark stain on the leather.

Light mud stains are caused by dry mud that doesn’t contain any organic matter. The mud can cause the leather to become light in color or even white.

How To Remove Mud Stains From Leather

So Now You Know…

Mud can cause all sorts of problems for leather if it’s not cleaned off quickly and correctly.

If you do happen to get mud on your leather, don’t panic! Just follow the steps below on how to remove mud stains from leather, and you’ll be good as new in no time.

Pro Tip: If you happen to have mud on your leather, the best thing to do is to make it dry before attempting to clean it.

Removing Dried Mud From Leather

If the mud is already dry or you deliberately made it dry, here is the best way to remove dried mud from your leather items;

Step One: Remove All Excess Mud Residue

  • If you have dried mud on your leather couch, car seats, or clothing, the best way to remove it is with a vacuum.
  • And if you have dried mud on leather shoes or boots, you can use a soft bristle brush.
  • Simply run the vacuum over the area with the dried mud; it should come right off.
  • If any stubborn pieces of mud are left behind, you can use a soft-bristled brush to remove them.
  • For shoes, remove the shoe laces and soak them in a solution of laundry soap and wash thoroughly.

Step Two: Wash The Leather

When it comes to washing the leather at this point, you have three main options; using leather cleaner, saddle soap, or mild dish soap.

For me, the best option is to use saddle soap. You can buy this good-quality one over here on Amazon!

  • To use the saddle soap, simply wet a cleaning brush or rag and work it into the saddle soap until you get a good amount of lather.
  • Then, rub the brush or rag over the area with the dried mud on it.
  • Work it into the crevices of the leather if you need to.
  • You should see the mud start to come off of the leather.

Step Three: Rinse The Leather

  • Once you’ve removed all the dried mud, wipe down the area with a damp cloth to remove any soap residue.
  • Inspect the leather to see if there are any mud stains remaining.
  • Repeat steps two and three if there are until the stains are gone.

Step Four: Dry The Leather

  • Use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off any moisture from the leather.
  • Leave the leather air-dry for about 10-15 minutes.

Step Five: Apply Leather Conditioner

  • Once the leather is dry, you’ll want to apply a leather conditioner.
  • Make sure only to apply a thin layer at a time and allow each application to air-dry thoroughly.
  • This will help keep the leather from drying out and cracking.

Step Six: Apply A Cream Polish (Optional)

  • You want to apply cream polish for leather with significant staining or discoloration.
  • Make sure to find a cream polish that matches your leather’s color, and test it in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Apply a small amount of polish to a clean, dry cloth and rub it into the leather in small, circular motions.

Wipe away any excess polish with a clean, dry cloth.

Step Seven: Air Dry

  • Once you’re done applying the cream polish to the leather, allow it to air dry for 24 hours before using the leather item again.


Hi! I’m Kwabena, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leathercraft enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day about leather craft, leather cleaning & care, and everything in-between!

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