How to Remove Wax From Leather?

How to Remove Wax From Leather?

Removing wax from leather can be a difficult task. If not done properly, it can damage the leather and cause discoloration. In this article, we will discuss different methods for removing wax from leather, as well as how to avoid damaging the material in the process. Let’s get started!

1. Assess the Texture and Type of Leather

The first step in removing wax from leather is to assess the texture and type of the leather material. Depending on the surface of the leather, different methods may be required. Smooth or polished leather requires a gentler approach so as not to damage the finish, while suede requires a different technique altogether. [1]

Wax on Different Leather Textures

When the wax has been spilled onto a leather item, it is important to identify the texture of the leather in order to determine which method will be most effective. Here are some different ways to remove wax from smooth/polished leather and suede:

Smooth Leather

The best way to remove wax from smooth leather is to use a damp cloth and gently rub the surface. This should help loosen the wax, which can then be wiped away using a clean dry cloth. If necessary, use a small amount of mild soap on the damp rag before rubbing, but make sure that all residue is removed with a dry cloth, as soapy residue can damage leather if left behind. In some cases, it may also be necessary to use a commercial cleaning product for more stubborn wax residues. 

Assess the Texture and Type of Leather

Suede Leather

Suede leather is much more fragile and sensitive than other types of leather. It needs to be treated with special care when removing wax. To remove wax from suede leather, you will need a soft cloth or brush and an industrial-strength cleaner or degreaser.

Start by brushing the area with a soft cloth or brush to loosen up any embedded dirt and wax residue. Take care not to damage the delicate nap of the material while doing so. Next, apply a small amount of industrial-strength cleaner or degreaser directly onto the stained area. Allow the product to sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth. Finally, rinse the treated area with cold water and dry it off using another clean cloth.

If the wax is still present, you may need to repeat this process a few times or use a specialized solvent designed for removing wax from leather. When using solvents, it’s important to take extra precautions as they can damage the material if used incorrectly.

Wax on Different Leather Types

It is also important to consider the type of leather material when removing wax. Here are some different methods for removing wax from full-grain, top-grain, and split-grain leather.

Full-Grain Leather

Removing wax from full-grain leather requires special care as it is one of the most delicate types of leather available. As a result, you will need to use gentle cleaning products and techniques to avoid damaging your item(s).

The first step in removing wax from full-grain leather is to create a cleaning solution. You can do this by mixing together warm (not hot) water and mild dish soap or baby shampoo. The ratio of water and soap should be approximately three parts water to one part soap. Once you have created the solution, use a microfiber cloth dampened with the mixture and gently rub away at the wax stain until it disappears. If some residue remains, switch to another soft cloth slightly dampened with the solution.

Top-Grain Leather

Removing wax from leather is a tricky task, and it’s important to be careful when trying to get rid of the buildup. Wax can cause discoloration or damage to your leather if you don’t take the right steps. But with a few simple techniques and proper care, you can easily clean off any wax that accumulates on top-grain leather items.

The first step in removing wax is to identify which type of leather you are dealing with. Top-grain leather is the highest grade of leather and is made from the outermost layer of animal hide, resulting in a durable product that will last for years.

If your item has been coated with some sort of waterproof sealant or wax, you can use a shoe-cleaning brush with soft bristles to remove the wax. Start by lightly brushing the leather in circular motions, then use a damp cloth to wipe away any remaining wax residue.

If your item is not waterproofed, create a warm solution of mild soap and water, or purchase an all-purpose cleaner made specifically for leather items. Dip a clean cloth into the mixture, then rub it over the surface of the leather in gentle strokes until all of the wax has been removed. Use another damp cloth to rinse off any excess suds and allow the leather to air dry completely before using it again.

Wax on Different Leather Types

For stubborn stains and buildups, try using a specialized product specifically designed to remove wax from leather. Follow the instructions on the product package, which may include applying the solution with a soft cloth and wiping it away with another cloth dampened in plain water.

Split-Grain Leather

For split-grain leather, start by using an ice cube or cold pack to harden the wax. Then, use a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush to brush away any residue. Finally, use a leather cleaner and conditioner to bring back the original color and texture of the material.

2. Remove Wax Before It Hardens

It is much easier to remove the wax before it hardens and becomes embedded in the leather. Try to clean up any spills right away, before they have had a chance to set in. Use a soft cloth or paper towel to gently wipe away the wax. Do not rub too hard, as this could damage the leather’s finish. If you are unable to get all of the wax off with a cloth, try using some leather cleaner or saddle soap on a dampened cloth, rubbing gently in small circles. This should help loosen any remaining residue from the surface of the leather. Once you have removed as much of the wax as possible, use a vacuum to pick up any residual pieces and particles that may still remain. [2]

3. Harden Remaining Wax by Freezing It

If there is still some wax remaining on the leather item, you can harden it and make it easier to remove. To do this, place the item in a plastic bag and place it in the freezer for several hours or overnight. Once the wax has hardened and cooled down completely, try scraping off as much as possible with a butter knife or metal spoon. Be careful not to scratch or damage the leather when doing so. You may need to repeat this process a few times before all of the remaining wax is removed.

4. Scrape Off the Wax After It’s Hardened

After the wax has been hardened, use a plastic knife or another non-abrasive tool to scrape off as much of it as possible. Take extra care when dealing with delicate leather such as suede or smooth finishes.

5. Heat It Up With a Hair Dryer

If you’re dealing with a leather item that has multiple layers, such as lambskin or suede, it’s best to use heat to soften the wax. As heated wax can be difficult to remove, it is advisable to use a hairdryer on low heat and move the dryer around the surface of the leather. This will help to loosen up some of the wax and make it easier for you to scrape away with a dull knife or cloth. However, take care not to overheat the leather, as this may cause discoloration or even damage. When using a hairdryer, keep your distance and make sure any areas affected by hot wax are cooled quickly by applying cold water or ice cubes after treatment.

Heating Up Wax On Suede or Nubuck

When dealing with wax on suede or nubuck, you should avoid using a hair dryer. Instead, try using an iron set on its lowest heat setting and place a clean cloth over the affected area before applying the iron. This will help to melt away the wax without risking any damage to your leather item.

Heating Up Wax On Suede or Nubuck

6. Soak Up Excess Wax With a Cloth

If liquid wax has been spilled on the leather, it is important to soak up as much of the liquid wax before beginning the removal process. Place a cloth over the area and press down gently to absorb any excess wax that may be sitting on top of the leather surface. Once you have soaked up as much wax as possible, move on to step 7.

7. Apply Leather Conditioner

Once you have removed all of the wax, use a leather conditioner to restore shine and suppleness. Make sure that the conditioner is specifically designed for your type of leather. Lastly, be sure to buff your item with a clean cloth to bring back its original luster.


What easily removes wax?

One of the easiest ways to remove wax from leather is to use a damp cloth or paper towel. Dampen the cloth with warm water and gently rub it over the area that has wax on it, using circular motions. The heat will help the wax dissolve, making it easier to wipe away.

How do you remove dried wax?

For dried wax, try heating up the affected area with a hair dryer set on its lowest heat setting. Start at a distance of about 8” (20 cm) and slowly move closer as needed. The wax should start to melt away and be easier to wipe off. Then use a clean cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and gently rub away any remaining residue. [3]

How do you remove dried wax?

Does vinegar dissolve wax?

Yes, vinegar does dissolve wax. But if you don’t have vinegar you could try using rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to remove the wax from the leather. For more stubborn wax, try hardening it with an ice cube or cold pack and then scraping it off with a plastic knife. [4]

How to get wax off of leather?

To get wax off of leather, start by scraping off as much wax as possible with a plastic knife. If there is any remaining wax residue, it can be hardened by freezing it. Once the wax has hardened, scrape off as much of it as possible and then use either rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to soak up any excess wax. Finally, use a leather conditioner to restore shine and suppleness back into your now-clean leather item.

Useful Video: How To Quickly Remove Wax Polish With A Heat Gun


If you have any skepticism about using this method to remove wax from leather, then test it in an inconspicuous spot first. Do remember that the heat from the hairdryer can damage some finishes on leather furniture, so use it sparingly. If your leather has become cracked or dry over time, it may not be able to withstand the heat at all. In this case, you should consult a professional for help. Have you used any of these methods to remove wax buildup from your own leather? What other tips do you have? Share them with us in the comments below!