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Article: How to deal with stains on leather caused by alcohol disinfection?

How to deal with stains on leather caused by alcohol disinfection?

How to deal with stains on leather caused by alcohol disinfection?

Hello, this is Hallelujah staff.

In these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, alcohol disinfectants and masks have become indispensable. However, many people have reported incidents where they accidentally touched their leather wallets right after using alcohol to disinfect their hands, resulting in stains on the leather.

In this article, we will discuss the reasons why alcohol can cause stains on leather and methods to improve the situation if such stains occur.

Never use alcohol on leather products!

When alcohol comes into contact with leather products (including synthetic leather), it poses various risks.

Possible risks due to contact with alcohol

Color fading of leather

When alcohol comes into contact and penetrates the leather, there is a possibility of dissolving the coating or altering the dye. During evaporation, the dye and oil contained in the leather may also evaporate together, causing color fading and deterioration.

Coating peeling

The leather's surface is coated to prevent color fading, but most coatings are not resistant to alcohol. The dye and surface coating can peel off, causing accelerated deterioration.

Formation of uneven surfaces on leather.

When a wet part of the leather becomes soft and soggy, it may dry with the surface remaining uneven and hardened, unable to regain its original shape.

Leather loses its natural oils

Alcohol has a dehydrating effect that removes oils from leather. When the essential oils are depleted, the leather dries out faster and becomes more susceptible to cracking.


We verified the effects of applying alcohol to two types of tanned leather


We prepared two types of cowhide leather: vegetable-tanned leather and chrome-tanned leather, to compare the experimental results clearly.

Tannin Tanning

Vegetable tanning is a tanning method that uses vegetable-based tannins. It is a traditional method that has been used for a long time. Tannins, which are water-soluble compounds, have the ability to bind with animal proteins present in the leather, resulting in a contracting effect.

Chrome tanning

Compared to vegetable tanning, chrome tanning results in a shorter processing time. The leather produced through chrome tanning is soft, has good elasticity, and is highly water-resistant, making it easy to process into leather products.


We conducted a verification using two types of alcohol.

In addition to the alcohol solution commonly used for hand disinfection, we also prepared a space disinfectant and deodorizing spray for the verification.

ヒビスコール液A 1L サラヤ 消毒 手指 除菌

        Source: Rakuten

ヒビスコール液A 1L サラヤ 消毒 手指 除菌


[Yazawa] 除菌消臭スプレー 420ml

[Yazawa] 除菌消臭スプレー 420ml


Experimental results of dropping two types of alcohol on leather


Left:Chrome tanning leather   Right:Tannin Tanning leather

We tried dropping disinfectant alcohol on the upper side and space sterilization and deodorant spray on the lower side.

First, let's take a look at the chrome-tanned cowhide.

No noticeable stains were observed from the disinfectant alcohol, but the area where the space sterilization and deodorant spray were applied has turned white.

I couldn't see any penetration, so I lightly wiped it with a cloth...


I was able to easily remove the white stains!

In this experiment, the chrome-tanned cowhide showed almost no changes.

On the other hand, the vegetable-tanned cowhide developed dark stains when the disinfectant alcohol was applied, and slight stains when the space sterilization and deodorant spray were applied.

Since it was still wet, I decided to dry it for a few minutes with cool air.


By drying it quickly, even on the light-colored cowhide where stains are more noticeable, I was able to restore it to its original condition!

Hallelujah ケアクロス マイクロファイバー 88

[Leather Care] Hallelujah Care Cloth Microfiber 88

Advantages and disadvantages of two types of leather

Based on the previous verification results, the chrome-tanned leather, which did not develop any stains, may seem more attractive. However, both types of leather have their own merits and demerits.

Advantages and disadvantages of chrome tanning leather


  • Resistant to scratches.
  • Excellent water resistance.
  • Requires less maintenance.


  • Does not age or develop patina.
  • May cause allergic reactions in some individuals due to the metallic content.
  • May emit a chemical odor that can be bothersome to some people.

Advantages and disadvantages of Tannin Tanning leather


  • Environmentally friendly and people-friendly, as it uses plant-based materials.
  • Has firmness, resilience, and durability.
  • Allows you to enjoy the aging process and develop a unique patina over time.


  • Prone to scratches and stains.
  • Sensitive to water and moisture.
  • Requires regular maintenance.

Recommended leather goods using tanned leather

栃木レザー ラウンド長財布 Camel 日本製 【JAPAN FACTORY】

Tochigi Leather Round Long Wallet Camel Made in Japan [JAPAN FACTORY]


栃木レザー ラウンド二つ折り財布 ミニ財布 Green 【JAPAN FACTORY】

Tochigi Leather Round Bifold Wallet Mini Wallet Green 【JAPAN FACTORY】


If the stain is completely left

In the previous verification, alcohol was applied to the leather and it was dried immediately,

If you leave it for a few hours, it will leave stains.

Never use care cream

When there is a stain on the leather, one may feel tempted to apply care cream immediately, but doing so can actually worsen the stain. Applying care cream on top of the stain can cause the oil to penetrate the leather, trapping the alcohol's components inside the leather.

Wetting with water is effective

① Mist water on a cloth or use a spray bottle and lightly rub the surface of the leather.

② If you feel that there isn't enough water, add a small amount gradually.

③ Once you have applied water to the entire surface, let it dry in a well-ventilated area.

By doing this, the alcohol components and moisture inside the leather will be released, making the stain less noticeable.

※ The effectiveness may vary depending on the type of leather.

The results of the actual verification using disinfectant alcohol are as follows.


The part where care cream was applied after the alcohol on the bottom side still has stains remaining, but the top side was able to return to almost its original state.


What should I do if I want to disinfect leather products?

For those who absolutely want to disinfect, the following methods are considered effective:

  • Use an antibacterial leather cream for maintenance.
  • Use a leather-specific disinfectant and antibacterial mist.
  • Gently wipe with a towel soaked in water-diluted neutral detergent.


The reasons why it is not recommended to disinfect leather with alcohol

How was this verification?

When alcohol comes into contact with leather, it can cause:

  • Color fading of the leather
  • Coating peeling off
  • Uneven texture on the leather
  • Depletion of natural oils in the leather

These factors contribute to various forms of degradation.

For those who wish to cherish their leather products for a long time and for those facing similar issues, I hope this serves as a helpful reference.

Until next time in our next article.

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