Dye transfer from jeans or other clothing on leather is a common issue in modern day automotive and furniture leather. This is obviously more noticeable on light coloured leathers like white or Ivory. The discolouration is caused by unfixed dyes from a wide variety of clothing and accessories like jackets, trousers, pants and belts. Denim, jeans, stretch fabrics and other types of fabrics may transfer dyes that are not fixed.

Dye transfer from jeans on a leather car seat
Heavy dye transfer on a leather seat in a Mercedes ML .
Dye from belts transferred onto leather car seat
Dye from jeans, denim and discolouration from a belt on car seats.

In most cases as long as the dye and color transfer is dealt with quickly, it can be removed by regular cleaning process. If you wait too long, the dye penetrates through the top coat and into the paint layer. At this point, the stain is no longer just on the leather surface - this makes it impossible to remove such stains with conventional water based leather cleaners, as most leather cleaners do not dissolve the clear coat or top coat (the protective coating for the paint layer on leather)

As with anything, it is best to attempt cleaning with the least aggressive product first. We recommend trying with Geist. Rapid Leather Cleaner PRO and Geist. Leather Cleaning Brush initially to remove dye transfer stains. You can also try using the dedicated Geist. Ink & Dye Remover. If these do not remove the staining, it is likely the dyes have penetrated the clear coat or top coat. You will need one of our solvent based cleaner called Geist. Dissolve. This product dissolves the clear coat very gently to remove all staining.

Lightly damp a white cloth with Geist. Dissolve and carefully clean the stained areas. Golden rule - Always test in a hidden area first! Make sure the cloth has enough product and wipe gently. Repeat this process multiple times until the staining is removed. Ensure the surface is moist as Geist. Dissolve leaves the surface feeling tacky as it evaporates. When tacky, avoid rubbing as this can cause the colour layer to peel off causing more damage. During cleaning, if any colour or paint is removed or staining is still visible it can always be touched up and recoloured with Geist. Easy Colour Restorer

To avoid further dye transfer stains in future, the leather should be regularly protected with Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker. The Blocker offers excellent protection against dye transfer. 


    • Geist. Rapid Leather & Vinyl Cleaner PRO, is a water based but high pH cleaner that offers excellent performance against stubborn staining. 
    • Geist. Leather Cleaning Brush - Helpful against discoloration and dirt in the grain structure.
    • Geist. Dissolve - Solvent based cleaner against stubborn stains. Please follow the instructions!
    • Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker, for final sealing and to reduce new discolouration.

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Is Geist. Rapid Cleaner PRO always the initial go to product for dye transfer removal?

Geist. Rapid Cleaner PRO is a water-based product. This high pH cleaner is for heavily soiled leather such as leather from vintage cars, furniture in hotels or restaurants etc. As most dye transfer stains are local, there is a fairly good chance it stains will come off. Use it with the Geist. Leather Cleaning Brush.

How many cleaning attempts do you need with Geist. Rapid Cleaner PRO to remove color transfer from jeans and denim?

If the stains are removable, two to three cleaning attempts should show good results. If there is no success after two cleaning procedures despite allowing the product to soak for about one to two minutes, the staining has likely penetrated clear coat and can't be removed with water-based cleaners.

How to protect leather & vinyl seats from future dye transfer and colour transfer staining? 

Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker offers protection against abrasion, stains and discolouration (Dye transfer). If leather is sensitive to discolouration from unfixed dyes from clothing and other items, Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker should be used regularly. 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, Geist. Dye & Friction Blocker should be your go to product from our range to prevent future staining and discoloration. 


What do I do with other types of leather?

There are many types of leather. The recommendation above for leather with discolouration from textiles is for pigmented, non-porous and non-absorbent smooth leather. In case of other leather types, feel free to send us an email with some good photos so we can assist. 

What do I do with synthetic leather?

In case of artificial leather (synthetic leather, vinyl, faux leather or vegan leather etc.) use Geist. Rapid Leather & Vinyl Cleaner PRO & the cleaning brush. If this doesn't work, other cleaning products likely won't help either. Artificial leather has a polyurethane coating and stains that have penetrated this layer cannot just be cleaned - even with a solvent based product. The surface will have to be recoloured using Geist. Easy Colour Restorer dye for leather & vinyl. Depending on the intensity of the stain, specialist products like Blocker PRO may be required to prevent the stain showing through the paint layer.