How to remove dye transfer stains on leather

Dye transfer from clothing on light leather colours is not uncommon. Automotive and furniture leather are the ones mostly affected. The discolouration is caused by a wide variety of clothing. Jackets, pants and belts cause such stains. Denim, stretch fabrics and other types of fabrics may transfer dyes that are not fixed.

Heavy dye transfer on furniture leather.

Dye from jeans and discolouration from a belt on car seats.

In most cases, the dye transfer can be removed by a simple cleaning process. If you wait too long, the dye penetrates into the leather surface and It’s impossible to remove such stains with conventional water based leather cleaners.

We recommend using COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner with the COLOURLOCK Leather Cleaning Brush for the first attempt to remove dye transfer stains. If this doesn’t solve the problem, the stains must additionally be cleaned with COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent. The GLD Solvent is a solvent based product and we always recommend using a water based cleaner first.

Lightly damp a white cloth with GLD-Solvent and carefully clean the stained areas. Always test in a hidden area first! GLD-Solvent slightly dissolves the colour coating. When trying to remove the discolouration, also the leather colour can be removed. Be very careful not to remove too much.
If too much colour is removed or visible stains remain, such areas can be recoloured with COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh. In areas where a high opacity is required, apply several layers and dry in between with a hair dryer.

To avoid further dye transfer stains in future, the leather should be regularly protected with COLOURLOCK Leather Shield. COLOURLOCK Leather Shield offers excellent protection against dye transfer. Only apply Leather Shield on clean leather.

Frequently asked questions

COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner is a water-based product. The COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner is for heavily soiled leather such as leather from vintage cars, furniture in gastronomy etc. As most dye transfer stains are local, there is a fairly good chance to remove stains with the The COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner.
If the stains are removable, two to three cleaning attempts should show good results. If there is no success after two cleaning procedures and a soaking time of about one to two minutes, the discolouration is inside the colour layer and can't be removed with water-based cleaners.
COLOURLOCK Leather Shield is a protection against abrasion, stains and discolouration. If leather is sensitive to discolouration, COLOURLOCK Leather Shield should be used regularly. This is not necessary if a strong colouring textile was the reason behind the stains. But if the leather is generally sensitive, this recommendation is true for all contact areas. Traditional care products contain oils and waxes to soften the leather. But they also soften the colour layer and make them somewhat sticky. This promotes soiling and discolouration. As long as the leather doesn't appear to be too dry, COLOURLOCK Leather Shield is the first choice for the contact areas. The rest can be treated as recommended for furniture leather.
There are many types of leather. The recommendation above for leather with discolouration from textiles is for pigmented, monochrome, semi-gloss smooth leather. In case of other leather types, always consult a leather specialist first. Such leather is mostly sensitive and the damage can increase.
In case of artificial leather (synthetic leather, vinyl etc.) Cleaner for Artificial Leather with Sponge is the first choice. If this doesn't succeed, COLOURLOCK GLD won't help either. The colour layer on leather can be dissolved in most cases and can be refreshed. But this is not possible on artificial leather. If the dye transfer is resistant, there is no way to clean it. Even specialists have little chance, and even a colouration of the stain carries the risk that the ink moves through the new colour layer to the top and becomes visible again. Specialists use a blocker to avoid this. Ask a specialist for advice. But not all dye transfer stains on artificial leather can be cleaned or hidden.

Recommended products

  • COLOURLOCK Mild Leather Cleaner, if the rest of the leather surfaces are clean.
  • COLOURLOCK Strong Leather Cleaner, if the leather is durable and otherwise also very dirty.
  • COLOURLOCK Leather Cleaning Brush - Helpful against discoloration and dirt in the grain structure.
  • COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent - Solvent based cleaner against stubborn stains. Please follow the instructions!
  • COLOURLOCK Leather Shield, for final sealing and to reduce new discolouration.
  • COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh according to our colour chart or matched to a sample with surcharge. Minimum amount for special colours is 150 ml.
Leather Cleaning Brush normal
The Leather Cleaning Brush is ideal for:  Using with the Mild or Strong Leather Cleaner to remove ingrained dirt Using with the COLOURLOCK Cleaner for Artificial Leather to remove ingrained dirt from vinyl or plastics Brushing up nubuck and suede Wet pre-cleaning of greasy areas before washing with LEDER FEIN Leather and Fur Wash Concentrate Polishing shoes and boots with COLOURLOCK Elephant Leather Preserver Amount: 1 piece. One brush is usually sufficient for cleaning a car interior or a set of furniture multiple times.Application areas: Car Leather, Furniture Leather, Shoes, Bags & Accessories, Leather ClothingFor: Artificial leather, Pigmented leather, PU leather, Semi-aniline leather, Suede and nubuck leatherWith its durable bristles and high-quality wooden handle, the Colourlock Leather Cleaning Brush is great for removing dirt and stains effectively and gently from leather car seats, sofas, chairs, clothing and handbags. It can also be used to clean Alcantara and other Textile materials as long as it is used gently.
Brush Size

US$5.40*
Details
Refresher for scratches
Leather Fresh Dye
Leather Fresh is a colour refresher (dye) for scratches, worn, or faded leather. Leather Fresh is ideal to refresh colour damages on car leather, furniture leather, leather garments and handbags. Do not use on porous leathers unless colouring the entire surface - it can make the surface appear patchy. It can be sponged on or sprayed using an airbrush.  Application Always test any products first on a hidden area to test for colour match!Firstly, clean the leather thoroughly and prepare the surface. Use Mild Leather Cleaner for normal degrees of soiling or Strong Leather Cleaner to remove heavier dirt (where the leather has been neglected for many years). Cleaning prior to treatment ensures the paint bonds to the surface well and ensures durability. Use Leather Cleaning Brush to effectively remove all ingrained dirt. Cleaning removes dirt but for long lasting results you should also de-grease using Leather Cleaning Spirit.Use a sponge to apply the colour evenly, working from seam to seam. Dry afterwards with a hair dryer. On small spots, a one application is sufficient. Apply multiple thin layers and dry each layer using a hair dryer.A day later, after it dries, apply Leather Protector. It gives the leather a good sheen and helps blend the repair. It contains antioxidants, which stops the leather's decay, and its UV filters protect the surfaces of old and valuable leathers from bleaching and fading. Also keeps the leather supple.  46 standard colours and prepare special colours according to sample or manufacturer name.
Standard-F-Colours

Content: 150 ml (US$21.60* / 100 ml)

Variants from US$12.00*
US$32.40*
Details
Leather Cleaner with sponge
Ideal for cleaning leather car and furniture upholstery, bags, suitcases or garments.The Leather Cleaner is provided in a foam dispenser bottle. Foams clean the leather more efficiently than liquid agents, the consumption is considerably smaller, and the leather does not become wet, which could otherwise become hard after drying.Firstly, clean the leather thoroughly before refreshing the colour or applying care products. Use COLOURLOCK Mild Leather Cleaner against normal soiling. Cleaning before treatment prevents the dirt sticking to the leather's surface. Our COLOURLOCK Leather Cleaning Brush effectively removes ingrained dirt (use circular motions and work from seam to seam). After cleaning, it is always best to apply a care product to protect it against general wear and future staining.Amount: 200 ml Mild Leather Cleaner. This is usually sufficient for the cleaning of a whole car interior or set of furniture.Amount: 1 litreApplication areas: Car Leather, Furniture Leather, Shoes, Bags & Accessories, Leather ClothingFor: Pigmented leather, PU leather, Pull Up leather, Semi-aniline leather ApplicationAlways test any products first on a hidden area in case they affect the colour.Dispense some foam on a sponge or brush. Do not apply to the leather directly! Clean the leather from seam to seam using the foam; repeat several times, if necessary. Remove dirty foam residue with a slightly moistened piece of cloth, then allow to dry.On older leathers, stains might sink into the surface, or perceived dirt might actually be colour damage. Such stains cannot always be removed by cleaning, in which case, use COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh for refreshing the colour, or ask us for advice.These products are also suitable for "Cool Leather/SRT (SunReflective Technology) Leather"!
Cleaner mild or strong
Available Sizes

US$25.20*
Details
Cleaner for Artificial Leather with Sponge
Efficiently cleans heavily soiled surfaces. Apply Cleaner on a slightly moistened sponge and press the foam out of it. Clean the surface with the foam.Amount: 200 ml, 1 litreApplication areas: Vinyl, PU & Faux LeatherFor: Artificial leather ApplicationAlways test any products first on a hidden area in case they affect the colour. Apply Cleaner on a slightly moistened sponge and press the foam out of it. Clean the surface with the foam. Use the Leather Cleaning Brush to remove dirt from the grain. Remove the dirty foam residue with a clean and slightly moistened piece of cloth.
Available Sizes

US$25.20*
Details