How to Remove Dried Paint from Leather

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-50
What You'll Need
Olive oil
Cotton swabs
Old toothbrush
Scrub pad
Nail polish remover
Adequate ventilation
Beeswax bar
Rubbing alcohol

Removing dried paint from leather can be a daunting and frustrating task, whether it's on your upholstery or clothing. You may need to try more than one of these fixes or a combination of them to find one which works for you.

Step 1 - Test the Olive Oil

Try using the olive oil technique first because it can both remove paint and recondition the leather. Test the oil on an inconspicuous spot on the leather. Different leathers are dyed and sealed with different techniques, so first check for adverse effects before you apply a substance to a prominent place.

Step 2 - Continue with Olive Oil

If the spot test didn't result in any negative effects, put some olive oil on a rag or cotton swab and rub at the dried paint. It may take a bit of rubbing if the paint has been on the leather for a long time. You can also use an old toothbrush. As the paint lifts, wipe it away with a rag.

Step 3 – Use Vaseline

Vaseline, or petroleum jelly, has also been known to help take off dried paint. As with the oil, test this method first in a more hidden area just in case it damages your specific leather piece. If it’s safe, dab a little Vaseline on a rag and work the paint with it until it comes free.

Step 4 – Try Soap, Water, and a Scrub Pad

For latex-based paints, something as simple as soap, water, and a green scouring pad might do the trick. Mix a small bowl or bucket of warm, soapy water and dip the scrub pad into it, squeezing out some of the excess liquid so you don’t soak the leather. Scrub the affected areas in small circles until you can see the paint coming away.

Step 5 - Try Fingernail Polish Remover

Fingernail polish remover will work on stubborn paint, but be sure to test it on a hidden area first. It may remove the dye on some leather. If the paint lifts but the leather is dull afterward, use the beeswax bar to recondition it. Rub the wax into the area and buff with a soft, clean cloth.

Step 6 – Dab with Rubbing Alcohol

As a last resort, rubbing alcohol can be administered to the paint. With a small swab, scrub at the dried paint. Take care not to leave the alcohol on any spot too long because it can dry out the leather.

With any luck, one of these methods will remove the paint for you without the need for more repairs.