How to remove ink from leather? An easy step-by-step guide to make it spotless
Many of us like putting a pen on the desk, so we can mark things. Sometimes, caps are removed from the pens and… It’s there: an ugly-looking ink stain on your favorite jacket or the beautiful upholstery of a new leather couch. So, what do you do? How do you undo the damage and continue enjoying your stylish (and expensive) item?
Can you remove ink stains from leather yourself, or should you leave it to the professionals? Getting ink on your leather can be a headache. But we’ll equip you with useful tips that can be handy in removing ink stains from your favorite items. Below there is a step-by-step guide how to remove ink from leather in 5 steps
Cleaning naked vs. finished leather
Leather may be naked (natural) or finished. Naked leather is spongy and absorbs more moisture, that’s why it is harder to clean. We recommend hiring an expert in the cleaning industry, as this kind of leather is easier to be damaged irreparably.
Finished leather, in contrast, is less absorbent and has a protective layer, which makes it easy to clean.
How do you tell one from the other? — Just apply a tiny bit of water to the leather, preferably in an inconspicuous spot. If the water is absorbed in the material, then the leather is natural. If not, you’ll have a good chance to clean it up at home. When purchasing leather items, you would probably want to test them.
Step-by-step guide how to remove ink from leather in 5 steps
We have come up with some great and effective tips which can help you in the process of removing ink from leather.
We divided all the methods into two basic categories: professional methods and agents and household or homemade cleaning agents.
Using Professional Leather Cleaning and dry cleaning Services
If you are dealing with an ink stain that is quite large and visible like a huge mark on your treasured white leather couch, it is advisable that you contact an experienced leather cleaning company to get your item repaired. Like when you catch the flu, instead of self-medicating (with questionable results), you go to the doctor and let a professional take care of you.
When you are unsure how to remove ink from leather from a clothing item, or you failed to do it yourself, you can always take it to a dry cleaner.
How to remove ink from leather with Leather Cleaning Products
If you bought an ink stain removal product, use the manufacturer’s instructions on its packaging. If your leather item has a protective layer, a commercial leather cleaner will probably help.
In case the leather cleaner you are going to purchase doesn’t specify if it works on ink, you may need to do some internet research and find the one suitable for you, though most leather cleaning products should work fine.
How to remove ink from leather with household and homemade cleaning agents
If professional cleaners are unavailable for the next several hours or even days, you may need to choose another option, like one of our tested and tried homemade methods. But we almost always recommend seeking professional help when dealing with light-colored or white leathers.
Use the methods described below with caution and test them on an inconspicuous spot before applying them to the ink stain. Some of the agents can be quite aggressive and have the potential to damage the leather.
An ink stick is actually quite an effective solution for removing ink from leather items. Read the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that you can use the stick on the leather.
- Test it on a discreet spot
- Secure the zone beneath the affected area, so the ink doesn’t transfer
- Shake the stick
- Apply it to the affected area
- Rub it in lightly using a finger or a soft brush
- Gently dab with water, you should use as little as possible
Rubbing alcohol is an effective way to remove ink, but it can also harm your leather product. Be extra cautious when applying rubbing alcohol to ink stains. When you have finished, use leather conditioner for optimum hydration.
- Use a cotton ball or swab to moisten the stain with rubbing alcohol
- Rub alcohol in the ink gently. The cotton will absorb the ink
- When the stains are removed, dry the area as soon as possible. A hairdryer can come in handy.
- Always apply leather conditioners afterward as alcohol dries leather severely
In some circumstances, hairspray may be an alternative, as alcohol can be one of its ingredients. Use the same procedure as the one above, only spray the hair product on a cotton swab or ball.
And don’t forget about the leather conditioner.
A magic eraser can be great to remove ink from leather. That’s why having one or two at home can be quite useful. See below how to remove ink from leather using house magic.
- Moisten one side of the magic eraser. Don’t soak it!
- Rub it lightly into the affected area
- Dry the spot
- Use a leather conditioner afterward
A surprisingly popular solution used by a lot of people to remove ink from leather.
- Apply sunscreen on the ink marks. Let it stay for 5-10 minutes
- Gently rub it off with some clean cloth (preferably cotton or microfiber)
- If the ink marks remain, repeat steps 1 and 2
- Use a leather conditioner afterward
Rubber erasers can actually effectively remove ink stains and dirt from leather goods.
- Test the eraser on an inconspicuous area to make sure that you won’t damage the leather by rubbing it.
- Rub the stained area to remove the ink
- Apply a leather conditioner to hydrate the material and sustain its beauty
Nail polish remover
Often we come across a question: Does nail polish remover remove ink from leather?
And strangely enough, the answer is: yes. But…
You need to be very careful when removing ink with this one. Never use nail polish removers with acetone! It’s extremely aggressive, and your leather item can lose color and be completely ruined.
- Wet a cotton ball with a small amount of non-acetone nail polish remover and apply it very gently on an ink stain
- Don’t rub it in! Just apply it over the stained area
- Leave for 1-2 minutes and wash it off with water
Soap can be your go-to option while removing ink stains. You can use a soap-based cleaner, by adding it to warm water, or just apply soap to some damp cloth. Saddle soap also works quite well, as it’s non-aggressive and will be gentle with leather goods.
- Wet the cloth (don’t soak it)
- Apply soap to it
- Gently rub it into the ink stain
- If the stain hasn’t come off completely, repeat
- Blot dry the leather surface
Vinegar (and olive oil)
Vinegar in combination with olive oil is another cleaner-friendly solution to remove ink from your leather goods. White vinegar generally helps remove stains and is an efficient solution for leather cleaning or maintenance.
- Mix well 2 parts of white vinegar with 1 part of olive oil
- Spray the mixture on the affected area or apply it with a clean cloth. Don’t rub!
- Leave for 10-15 minutes, then rinse off with water. Avoid leaving the excess product on leather
- Blot dry (you can use a paper towel for that)
Useful tips for avoiding ink stains on leather
The process of cleaning leather may be a little more tedious than some can believe. So, it would be incredibly beneficial to avoid ink stains on leather instead of trying to get rid of them later. And here we want to equip you with some helpful tips you can use, and hopefully, you won’t even need to remove ink from your beloved bomber or beautiful leather furniture.
- Use a leather protector and a leather conditioner. They will create a protective coating on your item and make the stain-removal process easier and more effective. Besides, they minimize cracking, which is good too;
- Use leather cleaning and maintaining products to take good, loving care of your leather products. They can also provide some protection against future stains. We also recommend vacuuming your leather furniture regularly, that will keep your items clean and make any future stains easier to remove;
- When carrying pens in a leather bag or a leather jacket pocket, cap them well and don’t use loosely capped pens. Not worth it.
If you love your leather, it’s most certainly important for you to take good care of it. Therefore, try to prevent any ink stains from marking your leather goods. But if the accident happened (we are all human after all), you can use our easy tips for removing ink.
There are plenty of methods when you don’t need any additional trips to the store. You’ll find all the cleaning agents in your storage, and it’s great because the time factor is critical in removing ink from leather.
Leather is a pricey and delicate material, but if you maintain it well, it will serve you for many years to come.
Frequently asked questions
Are you still having any questions left? We selected some of the most frequently asked questions and answered them. Maybe your questions are there too.
- Can ink cause irreparable damage to leather products?
We tested a lot of cleaning agents on leather products, and while most of them, when used correctly, are effective, there remains a possibility of permanent damage, especially if you use agents containing harsh chemicals. That’s why it’s so important, before applying a cleaning product to the affected spot, to test it in an inconspicuous area.
- Does toothpaste remove ink from leather?
Yes, you can use white non-gel toothpaste to remove ink from leather. Just gently rub it into the ink stain and follow up with some rubbing alcohol dissolved in water.
- Does WD 40 remove ink from leather?
There were attempts to use WD 40 to remove ink from leather, but the results were quite poor. However, some other solvents/solutions could be worth trying. Want to know How to Get Slime Out of Carpet, read the article.