4 Reasons Why Patent Leather Stain Plus Tips & A Quick Fix

Why does patent leather stain

Stains can make your patent leather shoes, jackets, pants, etc look very old and worn out. Patent leather is known to do well against stains in particular but from time to time it’s very common to have stains spots and marks on patent leather items.

So in this article, I researched the reasons why patent leather stain, and I’m ready to share with you all that I found.

So, why does patent leather stain? There a few reasons why patent leather will stain. The major reasons for patent leather staining will be as a result of color transfer and stain build-up through scratch marks while some minor reasons for patent leather staining will be due to dirt and aging.

To learn more about why patent leather stain, keep reading this article.

Details On Why Patent Leather Stain

Let’s now delve into the details on why patent leather stain.

1. Color Transfer

Color from other colored items can easily be transferred onto patent leather if they are put very close together.

It’s actually very interesting how this happens. Here you have a leather material with full glass-like protection on its surface.

You would think nothing can ever get through and distort the look of the patent leather but this happens to be the one thing that 9 out of 10 will distort the lustrous look of your patent leather.

Color transfer as hinted earlier happens when the patent item is placed very close to other colored items. This particularly happens when the patent leather item is being stored.

So if you store your patent leather goods like shoes or handbags in dust bags, you need to make sure it’s made of a neutral colors like gray or white so that no color gets transferred onto your patent leather goods.

Also if you’re the type of person who likes to shelve their leather goods, you would want to keep a good distance especially between your patent leather items and the other shelfed items.

This is because items shelved very close together can also result in a severe color transfer which may be hard to deal with.

2. Patent Leather Stains Through Scratch, Scuffs, & Crease Marks

Patent leather holds up very well against scratches but with time, little bits of scratch, scuff, and crease marks begin to build up.

If not timely maintained or fixed or as it were sealed, these scratch marks will eventually become deeper and form a channel through which liquids can get underneath the gloss to create an indelible stain on your patent leather.

This is usually the worst-case scenario when it comes to patent leather staining. This is because this type of stain doesn’t go away and even if it will, it might mean re-dyeing the entire surface of the patent leather item or stripping the entire finished layer, correcting the stain, and then refinishing it.

While this may in most cases require a professional, you should also be able to do this at home by following instructional videos on platforms like YouTube.

3. Aging

Like everything else in this world, patent leather also ages. And as to whether it ages well or not will depend how much tender loving care it has receive throughout its use.

There are a couple of things that will happen to your patent leather with time. Patent leather with time will become tacky or sticky, accummulate scuffs, scratches, and creases that eventually buildup, and most commonly begin to yellow stain.

You can check out an earlier article I wrote about 6 Ways Patent Leather Age Plus How To Slow The Aging.

Patent leather developing yellow stains can be very disappointing especially when it begins to appear a lot earlier than usual.

However, this will definitely happen especially to a paticular family of patent leather items as they age. So yes! this simply means not all patent leather goods will yellow.

The light-colored patent leather in particular will actually age and yellow-stain pretty badly while darker colored patent leather items will not.

You can also check out an article I wrote earlier on 6 Things That Turn White Patent Leather Yellow

So if you intend getting any patent leather item or already have a patent leather item and would like to use it for a very long time and possibly pass it on to family or friends, then you wouldn’t want to get the light-colored patent leather items as they are prone to yellowing with time.

But aging doesn’t only mean the patent leather becoming yellow. Yellowing stains usually is only one phase of the patent leather aging process.

Let me take you a step back!

The main characteristics of patent leather is its glossy shine. How this is generally achieved is by placing a plastic coating on the surface of a regular leather after it has been tanned.

Back to the point!

This plastic coating will begin to breakdown towards the last days of the patent leather item and may cause it to develop ugly stains that you wouldn’t be able to do much about.

4. Dirt Buildup

Dirt is one of the basic ways patent leather will develop stains. Patent leather items such as shoes, jackets, boots, etc will see a lot of wear, and as robust as the patent leather material is it will still take up a lot of dirt and scuffs.

Patent leather, especially the ones used for sports gear like basketball shoes, running shoes, gloves, etc, will take up dirt stains easily because of how dirt from these sports are pressed or embossed on the patent leather shoes – mainly on impact.

If not properly or timely cleaned it will become permanent and will appear as a stain mark on the surface of the leather.

Patent leather is hardwearing but will need cleaning on a daily or weekly basis to maintain a good clean shiny and healthy look.

You can use leather cleaning wipes to give your patent leather a squeaky clean look everyday – rid it of the dirt that can eventually stain your patent leather.

There are also a couple of other ways you can clean dirt stains from patent leather. Mainly, these will include using household items.

For the much lighter dirt stains, you can use a damp cloth or dish soap to wipe off the stain. Again, I find leather cleaning wipes to do a much better job of cleaning light dirt stains and will also put a nice shine on the patent leather.

For more stubborn dirt stains you will be able to use rubbing alcohol, or non-acetone nail polish remover to get rid of any kind of dirt stains on the patent leather item.

The rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover will act as a deglazer to saturate any kind of foreign material (stains, dirt, debris, etc) on the surface of the patent leather and make it extremely easy to remove.

Tips On How TO Prevent Stains From Patent Leather

  • Clean stains from day-to-day wear immediately when they happen.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight and heat as this a major contributory factor for yellow stains on patent leather.
  • Remove moisture especially for patent leather shoes and boots to help prevent moisture from within getting underneath the glossy finish of the patent leather and also to help keep the shoes and boots in good shape.
  • Treat scratches and creases timely so they do not deepen and further allow liquid and other forms of stains to seep through.

How To Remove Stains From Patent Leather

Removing scuff or stains from patent leather is not rocket science. It’s very easy to do but you need to know exactly what you’re doing so that you do not ruin the perfect shine on your patent leather or make the scuff marks or stains worse.

Here’s a video on how to remove stains or scuff from patent leather using simple household items.


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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