How to Get Water Stains Out of Leather Shoes: 8 Effective Methods

Use a mixture with 1 part mild soap diluted in 8 parts water. Spray it on a cloth or sponge and wipe your leather with it, going against the grain. Once the stains vanish, let your shoes dry. Finally, apply a leather conditioner, and you’re done.

Whether you wear your leather shoes in the rain or spill water on them, the resulting water stains can ruin their appearance as water stains leather easily.

You can also make your own cleaner by mixing 1 part lemon juice with 1 part cream of tartar, and you will get a paste. Apply the paste to a clean microfiber cloth and rub it into the stains. 

Below, we will share 8 other methods on how to get water stains out of leather shoes, so take a look and learn how to make your leather shoes look new again.

Water Stains on Leather Shoes: 8 Foolproof Methods

Leather still absorbs liquid despite everyone claiming it’s water-resistant. The longer the liquid stays on the material, the bigger the chance of creating stains.

  • To prevent water from staining your leather shoes, soak up as much of the liquid as possible with a slightly damp cloth or sponge.

  • Never use a hair dryer or another heat source to dry them, as they can make the material harden and crack.

  • Dampen a cloth with distilled water at room temperature. Don’t use soap or anything else. Start at the middle of the stains and gently wipe outward in a circular motion.

  • Once you’re done, let your leather air-dry. Never rub your leather shoes to speed up the drying process. Finally, apply a leather conditioner once they’re fully dry.

If the bloating doesn’t remove the water stains completely, try the following cleaning methods.

Method 1: Use A Commercial Leather Cleaner

If the stains don’t come off easily, that’s likely because of the salt or minerals in the water. In this case, they can also look whitish.

Don’t worry, as you can easily remove any type of stains, including water stains, with a commercial leather cleaner. It’s the perfect solution for stain removal in boots, car leather interior, bags, leather sofas, and other pieces of furniture.

Although it’s a leather cleaning product, always make a small spot test first to check color fastness in a hidden area. Let the area dry.

using commercial leather cleaner on shoes

If you don’t notice any changes, apply a small amount of the product on a soft cloth and clean the water stains with it in a circular motion. Lastly, wipe off the residue and let your leather shoes dry for about 30 minutes. 

To boost the natural shine of your shoes, apply a leather lotion.

Method 2: Rubbing Alcohol to the Rescue

Rubbing alcohol can also get water stains out of leather shoes and other items such as jackets, bags, furniture, etc.

Simply dip a cotton ball or soft cloth in rubbing alcohol and gently rub the stains in a circular motion. Keep on massaging the stains until they completely vanish.

Method 3: Water & Vinegar Clean Everything!

A mixture of distilled water and vinegar in a 50:50 ratio can also help remove stains from leather shoes. Using a clean cloth, apply the mixture onto the stains and gently rub them in a circular motion until they’re fully gone.

Method 4: Warm Water & Soap as A Cheap Solution

Make a cleaning solution out of distilled lukewarm water and mild dishwashing soap. Then, apply the solution to the stains using a soft clean cloth.

Gently rub your leather shoes with the cloth as harsh rubbing can cause damage or strip the natural oils. You can also use a clean sponge if you don’t have a soft cloth on hand, as they’re both equally good at removing water stains.

Method 5: Mayonnaise (Sounds Gross but Works)

Mayonnaise has oils and vinegar, so it’s very effective at removing water stains and other types of stains from leather while keeping the natural shine of your shoes.

So, if you’re dealing with stubborn water stains on your leather shoes, apply a layer of mayonnaise to them and leave for about 15 minutes. Then, buff the mayonnaise in a circular motion using a wet cloth.

vector image of mayonnaise

Continue rubbing the stains until they’re gone. Once you’re done, wipe off the mayonnaise with a new damp cloth and let the leather air-dry overnight.

Method 6: Leather Milk for Cleaning & Restoring Shine

Leather milk can keep your leather shoes, boots, jackets, and other items clean and stain-free.

If you’re handling hard water stains, apply a small amount of leather milk to a clean cloth and use it to scrub the stains from the shoes. The best part? Not only will the leather milk remove the stains, but it will also restore your shoes’ natural shine.

Method 7: Polishing Color Does Miracles for Leather

First, clean your leather shoes with water and mild soap, then add a polishing color and watch the stains vanish.

Remove as many stains as possible with the water and soap solution, then let your polishing color do the rest. Polishing your leather shoes with a good polishing color will banish the stains and restore their shine.

Polishing colors come in different shades, and they’re available at any leather shop. You can also take your shoes to the shop for professional polishing every once in a while.

Method 8: Try Leather Conditioner for Stain Removal

A good leather conditioner can also help get water stains out of leather shoes. The water stains vanish due to the natural oils in these conditioners.

So, if you have one lying around, go ahead and polish your shoes and kiss those nasty stains goodbye. Thanks to the natural oils in these products, your shoes will look new.

If you don’t have a leather conditioner at hand, you can make one at home with oils such as coconut or almond oil, which won’t harm your shoes.

Other things you will need include beeswax and cocoa butter. Mix 1 part beeswax, 1 part cocoa butter, and 2 parts almond oil or coconut oil. Melt everything in a pan at medium heat. 

Then, let the mixture cool down for a while before massaging it into the leather. Lastly, polish your shoes with a cloth.

We’ve already tried this natural shoe conditioner, and we can testify it’s great for cleaning and polishing all types of shoes, including leather.

Extra Method: Lemon Juice as The Last Resort

use lemon juice to clean leather shoes

Surprisingly, lemon juice can also help remove water stains from leather shoes.

Take 1-2 lemons and squeeze them into a small bowl, then dip a cloth, cotton swab, or soft brush in it. Use whatever you choose to wipe the stains off.

If necessary, rub a little harder on the stains. Lastly, wipe with a dry clean cloth and let your shoe air-dry.

Care and Maintenance Tips for Leather Shoes

Leather shoes aren’t cheap. They’re costly and high-maintenance, so invest in protective sprays and conditioners to keep your shoes as good as new. You can use mink oil as it’s excellent for leather shoes.

It’s the perfect conditioner and protector for them, but here’s the real kicker. Mink oil can help get water stains out of leather and make your leather shoes waterproof. Now, let’s take a look at other maintenance & care tips.

Use Shoe Trees

 Using shoe trees can prolong the life of leather shoes. They will not only keep the shape of your shoes, but they will also prevent moisture and help the durability of the sole.

Proper storage matters as well. So, first, wipe off any dust and dirt on the shoe with a dry cloth, remove any stains, and let your leather shoes air-dry before putting them away.

Prevent Cracks and Other Damage

As already mentioned, proper care and maintenance aren’t optional. They’re very much necessary for shoes, especially leather shoes, as they’re expensive.

So, condition your leather shoes with a store-bought or homemade conditioner. That way, you will restore their shine and prevent any cracks and other damages. You can find leather care products at your local shops and follow the instructions on the package.

Moreover, avoid storing your shoes in their original shoe box and keep them covered at all times as fungus can develop on their surface.

FAQs on Water Stains on Leather Shoes

Are water stains on leather permanent?

If left untreated, water stains can cause permanent damage and ruin your leather, so tackle any stains as soon as you notice them.

How do you fix water-damaged leather?

First, dry your leather piece at room temperature, then wipe off any excess dirt with a damp cloth or sponge. Let your leather piece dry again, and apply a leather lotion using a lint-free cloth.

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