Is Motor Oil Bad for Leather Boots?

Oil, be it any type can surely leave a stain irrespective of the texture of the surface it comes in contact with. There are exceptions of course like smooth tiled floors, plastic, etc. But, leather boots are not one among them.

Motor oil on leather boots is a topic that is discussed quite often. There are mixed views about it that can be confusing for a reader. Today, through this blog I will tell you all you need to know about the same.

Motor oil can leave stains on leather boots. As the texture of leather is coarse and thick, oil can get stuck on its surface making dark stains if left for a considerable time. However, at times, motor oil is also used for maintaining leather boots. Only that the oil used should be unused and fresh.

Is Motor Oil Bad for Leather Boots

How motor oil can affect the skin of your leather boots?

Motor oil can leave very messy stains on leather boots. But, not all the forms are harmful. Unused motor oil is transparent and is glossy in nature.

It has more of a brownish tinge to it whereas, when the same liquid when used in a machine or an engine, becomes thicker and takes a blackish hue. It is this used oil that can result in thick stains on surfaces. 

Greasy and sticky, used motor oil can create thick blotches especially on materials like leather. It can lead to the development of cracks which can eventually lead to the complete tear and wear of the boots.

How to remove motor oil stains from my leather boots?

There are many ways in which you can save your leather boots from getting destroyed due to some spilling that you did while working. Let’s see what those are…

1.) Shampoo for natural leather!

A little bit of shampoo and hot water can help you get off the greasy liquid stain. All you have to do is take two spoons of shampoo mixed with half a liter of hot water.

Dip a soft cloth in the water and rub it over the stain gently. Note that this should be done within a few minutes of the boots getting dirty. Do not let the oil stay and make its mark permanently on the boots.

2.) Washing detergent is the best for synthetic leather!

Synthetic leather is more stubborn when it comes to oil stains. Motor oil can therefore be a bit too much for the material.

Hence, a strong degreaser is essential to remove the stains. Washing detergent is the apt solution here. Using a cloth, apply a bit of the detergent and wipe the stain off the shoes.

3.) An oil stain remover is the perfect solution

Made exactly for the purpose an oil stain remover can be sprayed on the affected area. After a few hours of waiting, the black oil stain can be seen as a powdery residue that can be rubbed off.

Before applying the spray the oil that was spilled should be blotted up using a tissue or a towel. The powdery substance can be peeled off or it will crack itself. Check if the stain is gone or the process can be repeated.

4.) Talcum powder to help clean suede leather boots.

Shampoo or detergent cannot be much help for suede leather shoes. You might have to change your tactic a little bit to deal with the situation. Talcum powder can do the trick. Applying it where the oil made its mark can help to conceal it.

5.) Cornstarch to cover the boot’s stains!

Like talcum powder, corn starch can also be an excellent solution. Similar to the above method, apply some corn starch over the stain and see how much of it gets concealed.

When you are satisfied with what you see, just rub off the excess powder that is left behind for the finishing touch.

6.) Vinegar for removal of suede leather stains!

Suede leather boots have another excellent stain remover- vinegar. While the rest of the leather types do not consider vinegar as a good oil blotch removal technique, for suede it works brilliantly.

Take some vinegar in a bowl and dip a soft smooth cloth in it. Dab the stain with the cloth till the marks disappear. Before you get into action, remember to drain the excess vinegar from the cloth.

7.) Alcohol works perfectly for motor stain removal!

Rubbing alcohol using a cloth over the stain can help. Alcohol can pull out the oil even if it has gone deep into the pores of the leather. This technique does not take much time as the alcohol evaporates easily.

How to polish leather boots after motor oil stain removal?

It is essential to know how to bring back your leather boots to their old rustic look after the removal of the motor oil stain.

With all the rubbing and dabbing along with the touch of the thick oil, your boots might be wishing for a good makeover in the end. How can this be done?

Polishing the leather boots is not difficult to do once you get the hang of it. 

1.) Suede Brush

For suede leather, a suede brush can be used to brush and make the surface of your boots look smooth and new.

Post cornstarch or talcum powder concealing, a suede brush can be used to get rid of the excess powder and help in bringing evenness to the leather.

2.) Dye

Oftentimes after the rectification of the leather skin, there arises a need for a color revival of the same. When affected with dirt, dust, or oil stains like the ones that I have mentioned in the blog, the boots tend to lose their color and fade. This becomes worse with the effects of the stain removal.

Here, dye for the leather can help. For instance, after applying alcohol on the stains, a dye can be used to revive the life of the boots. This can be done using a cloth or a dauber made of wool. Air drying after the application can give you your old boots back!

3.) Leather conditioner

You can buy these from stores. It acts as a perfect shoe shiner for leather boots. 

Instructions on how to use it will be given on the can. Make sure to see that the conditioner will not affect the color of the boots. Apply on a small area of the boot’s skin and observe if the color is different.

4.) Cream Polish

Cream polish does not give much shine, yet helps in bringing back the color of the boots by giving it moisture and nourishment. Choose the right color polish and make use of a brush to apply.

5.) Wax polish

Wax polish is used to add shine to leather and hence is often considered as the final touch to the polishing stage.

Dab the polish as spots across the leather and make small circular movements. A horsehair brush can be used to make the spots even. Repeat the process to make the boots shine as new!

Prevention is Always Better

Avoiding stains is also possible. Using protective sprays to keep the leather boots safe from motor oil stain or any similar blemishes is the best prevention method you can adopt.

The sooner you use it after buying your brand new leather boots, the longer the leather stays fresh and crack-free.

Here is a link to a protective spray that is popular in the market:

Leather boots protective sprays are easily available in the market. Go through the reviews and check which suits you better before buying.

Can motor oil be used to condition leather boots?

Yes, motor oil can be used to condition leather boots. The oil should strictly be unused. Motor oil can harm the leather only if it is thick and greasy after usage.

Also, when used for conditioning, the oil is not left as drops, but a very small quantity is diligently spread across the leather in a feathery touch.

The oil thus will not penetrate the pores and create damage. This way it adds shine to the material and enhances the look.

Here is a video explaining how to do it:



Hope you got a clear idea as to how motor oil works on leather boots. If used at the right time in the right way, they can be a boon to your precious boots, if not they can harm them as no other substance can.

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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