5 Easy Ways To Remove Water Stains From Leather Car Seats

How to remove water stains from leather car seats

Water stains on car leather seats incredibly suck but it’s very common and pretty much unavoidable. Knowing how to safely remove water stains from leather car seats is crucial as you wouldn’t want to do anything that will cause any further damage to your leather seats.

So in this article, I will share with you my research on some of the best ways to remove water stains from leather car seats safely without causing any damage.

  1. The Dish Soap Method
  2. The White Vinegar Application Method
  3. Toothpaste Or Baking Soda Method
  4. Blotting Method
  5. Leather Dressing

Read on, as I shed more light on the details of the above methods for removing water stains from leather car seats.

Details On How To Remove Water Stains From Leather Car Seats

Leather car seats are particularly hardwearing and because of this, it’s no surprise it’s going to get hit by water stains from its day-to-day usage. Let’s now get into the details of how to remove water stains from leather car seats.

1. The Dish Soap Method

Getting water stains removed from leather car seats is possible with dish soaps. In this method, your regular mild dishwashing soap or dish detergent can be used.

This method is characterized by a soft lathering foam that makes it good for cleaning leather surfaces.

The main challenge with this method is the fact that most dish soap ingredients are non-reactive and so will be best for removing mild water stains from leather car seats.

One important thing to note is that you do not want to choose dish soaps that are chemical heavy or toxic. They can be harmful and may have negative side effects on your leather.

Now, here are the things you need to remove water stains from leather car seats using the dish soap method.

Things Needed:

  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Sponge
  • Container or basin
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Leather conditioner


Step 1: Clean the surface of the leather seats by vacuuming, brushing, or dusting off any dirt or dust. Dirt, debris, and other unwanted substances must be removed from the leather car seat surface to avoid scratching when the cleaning is being done.

Step 2: Put a few drops of dish soap into a container or basin of warm water.

Step 3: Dip your sponge into the mixture, wring it. Ensure the sponge is not runny with water.

Step 4: Now carefully scrub the water-stained area of the leather seat. You would want to scrub the entire area of the leather car seat even if on a small portion of the leather was stained.

This is to ensure you don’t worsen your leather car seats by leaving behind a bigger watermark stain. You can repeat the scrubbing 2-3 times until the stain is completely removed or drastically improved.

Step 5: With the help of a clean damp microfiber cloth, thoroughly wipe off the dish soap residue from the leather and allow it to dry.

Step 6: You can now apply your leather conditioner after the leather is dry. The water stain should be gone now or drastically improved.

2. The White Vinegar Method

Applying vinegar, precisely white vinegar, on leather is effective when it comes to removing all kinds of stains from leather.

Vinegar is a good cleaning agent extremely tough on stains but very gentle on leather.

The white vinegar method of removing water stains from leather car seats is very effective and will leave your leather clean and looking new again. This method will be great for tough water stains

This method of removing water stains works well but when the mixture is wrongly applied it may cause your leather seat to become very dry which can lead to the leather cracking and peeling.

Things Needed:

Here’s what you need to be able to successfully execute this method.

  • White vinegar
  • Clean water
  • Microfiber cloth
  • small bucket, container, or basin


Step 1: Rid the leather surface of dust and mix equal parts of mild soap and white vinegar in a basin of water.

Step 2: Dampen your clean absorbent microfiber cloth with the white vinegar solution. Make sure to wring it out so that the cloth is not soaking wet.

Step 3. Give your leather a good scrub using the dampened microfiber cloth. You can from time to time, rinse out the cloth, re-dampen it with the solution, and continue to scrub the leather.

Step 4: Wash the cloth in clean water and wipe off any white vinegar and soap solution from the surface of the leather car seats.

Step 5: Now allow the cleaned leather surface to thoroughly dry.

Step 6: Condition your leather with a good leather conditioner.

3. Using Toothpaste Or Baking Soda

Although these two substances, toothpaste, and baking soda, can be gritty when it comes to its application on leather, it’s the proper application can be very effective at removing water stains from leather.

This method will be particularly great if the water stain is quite fresh.

While this is a very effective way of removing water stains from leather, you can easily leave toothpaste or baking powder stains on the leather seats if the proper steps are not followed.

Things Needed:

  • Microfibre Cloth or Lint Free Rag
  • Toothpaste or Baking Soda
  • Vacuum cleaner


Step 1: Clean the leather seat surface to remove dirt, grease, or any oily substances.

Step 2: Apply a good amount of toothpaste to the water-stained area(s) on the leather. Or sprinkle baking soda to the affected areas of the leather car seat. Make sure the entire stain is covered.

Step 3: After about 10-20 minutes, the toothpaste or baking soda should have soaked up or cleared any water stains. If you used the toothpaste for this method, you can at this point use a damp rag to remove the toothpaste.

If you on the other hand used baking soda, you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove the baking soda from the leather car seat.

Step 4: After thoroughly wiping off or vacuuming the toothpaste or the baking soda respectively, you can now cleaning your leather with mild saddle soap or dish soap to stop any reaction on the leather car seat.

Step 5: Leave the leather to dry.

Step 6: Condition your leather.

4. Blotting Method

This method involves a simple process of reverse-engineering the water stain. In this method what you will be doing is to oversaturate the water-stained area with water.

Here’s all you what need and how to execute this method.

Things Needed:

  • Sponge
  • Warm water
  • Leather Conditioner
  • Rag


Step 1: Dampen your sponge with warm water.

Step 2: Use the sponge to blot the entire stained leather seat. Use the damp sponge to work moisture into the edges of the water-stained area.

Step 3: Keep over-saturating the leather car seat surface but make sure you don’t get it so wet it sinks into the seat cushions. Work the stain with the sponge until the stain is removed.

Step 4: With a slightly damp rag, clean any moisture residue from the leather.

Step 5: Leave the area to dry.

Step 6: You can now apply your leather conditioner to restore the natural shine and oil of the leather.

5. Leather Dressing

Another tried and tested method of removing water stains from leather car seats is a combination of olive oil, vinegar, and water. It works effectively when this solution is applied to soak the water-stained area of the leather and allowed to dry.

This is effective as it purges the stain outright. However, this method is not effective on perforated leather seats.

Things Needed:

  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Soft clean rag


Step 1: Mix half a cup of olive oil, a quarter cup of vinegar, and a half cup of water.

Step 2: Put the solution in a spray bottle or container.

Step 3: Brush or dust off the surface of the leather car seat.

Step 4: Spray the mixture on the stained area.

Step 5: Let it soak into the leather for a 5 minutes tops.

Step 6: Buff off the surface of the surface of the leather with a soft clean rag.

Step 7: Leave to dry.

How To Prevent Water Stains From Leather Car Seats

  • Keep a small microfiber cloth in the trunk of your car so that in the case of any spill or splash of water you will be able to briskly and thoroughly wipe it off. It helps to get rid of the water stain immediately before they form permanent watermarks on the leather car seat.
  • Another simple way to prevent water stains on your leather car seats is to protect the leather seats with leather car sealants or protectants. This will help block the spills or splashes of water which would have otherwise soaked into the leather leaving behind stains.
  • Regular cleaning of your leather car seats with leather wipes will also help to unsettle any kind of moisture stain on the leather car seat.

Do’s And Don’ts of Water Stains on Leather Car Seats

Knowing what to do and what not to do when your leather car seats encounter water stains makes it less challenging to remove it when it occurs. So let’s take a look at some do’s and don’t when leather car seats encounter water stains.


  • Wiping and cleaning water spills and splashes on leather car seats should be done gently and in sections. This helps to prevent the leather from scratching and discoloration.
  • Always dry or wipe off any water or liquid spills on your leather seats quickly with an absorbent material like a microfibre cloth.
  • You always want to condition your leather lightly after cleaning off or treating any major water spill or stain.
  • Natural and non-toxic leather upholstery cleaners are the best when it comes to water stains removal. To reduce the level of abuse on your leather whenever your leather car seats take a stain, you would want to stick to natural leather cleaners and conditioner.


  • Don’t clean stains with bristles brushes. You may be focused on taking water stains off but you may not like the wear the bristles can cause to your leather car seats. Always use a very soft sable brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and debris.

Don’t let water spills dry on the surface of your leather seats. When water spills are left to dry it becomes extremely difficult to get it off.

Don’t use the cheap stuff in terms of cleaners and conditioners. You wouldn’t want to go for conditioner that are either wax based or petroleum based.

These sorts of conditioners build-up sticky residue and they also cause the leather car seats to dull up. Go for the good stuff.

General Process To Get Water Stains Out Of Leather Car Seats

  • Vacuum or use air compressors to clean leather seats.
  • Test your chosen cleaning solution on a portion of your leather seat to check its compatibility.
  • Apply your cleaning solution to the water-stained area.
  • Allow the solution to sit and soak the area for a while.
  • When you’re satisfied with the removal, clean and wipe the solution off the surface of the leather with a clean microfiber cloth.
  • Allow the surface to dry.
  • Apply your chosen conditioner to bring back the lost oils and restore the nice sheen of the leather surface.


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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