Finished vs. Unfinished Leather
Finished leather is leather that is taken from the inside of the animal hide while unfinished leather is taken from the outside. Unfinished leather includes suede and nubuck. It has a nappy texture that will change as you run your hand over it. Finished leather including patent leather and is smooth in appearance. Never use water-based cleaning methods to remove paint stains from unfinished leather as the water marks will be visible on the couch.
Sanding Unfinished Leather
Because unfinished leather cannot handle water-based or liquid cleaners, it is essential to use a dry cleaning solution to clean it. However, these dry cleaning solutions are not always strong enough to remove paint stains. If these don't work, use a piece of superfine sandpaper to remove the paint. Be careful not to wear a hole into the suede.
Acetone on Finished Leather
Acetone is an ingredient in nail polish remover and is effective in removing paint stains from finished leather. Be careful not to apply too much as finished leather can get dried out if you use harsh cleaners such as acetone on it. To clean the paint off, blot acetone directly onto the paint stain until it is gone. Immediately rinse the area with water and dry it completely to avoid water marks developing.
The cleaning process dries out both types of leather. If you don't do anything about it, this will eventually cause the leather to crack. Prevent cracking by conditioning the leather as soon as it begins to feel dry or appear overly wrinkled. Purchase leather conditioner for either finished or unfinished leather from a hardware or home improvement store. Use leather conditioner specifically designed for couches as it differs from leather shoe conditioner.