How to Clean Ink Off of Leather

Does your beautiful leather couch have an ink stain on it? Here’s how to clean ink from leather.

It can be so frustrating when a beautiful piece of leather acquires an ink stain. Maybe your two year old decided to try his hand at art right on the surface of your expensive leather couch or your dog decided to chew up a pen cartridge while resting on your nice leather chair. Now you want to restore your leather to its original unmarked condition. Fortunately, there are ways to successfully clean ink off of leather.

Keep in mind that what may work to remove ink from one leather piece may not work for another and may, in some situations, even remove the color. It all depends upon the type of leather, the type of finish on the leather, and the type of ink. To make sure the color won’t be removed from the leather by the ink removal solution you use, try the solution on a portion of the leather that doesn’t show initially. For example, try it first on the back of your leather couch so if the color is altered, it won’t be obvious.

Many people swear by using such agents as perfume and hairspray to remove ink from leather. The reason these solutions work in many cases is because of their high alcohol content. It’s easier and less risky to your leather to work with rubbing alcohol directly. Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a soft cloth and rub slowly over the stained areas. (make sure you’ve performed your test to ensure the color won’t be altered). After rubbing, check to see if the stain has been completely removed. Now wash the previously stained area with a soft cloth and dove soap. In most cases the ink stain will be completely removed from the leather.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol lying around the house, acetone free nail polish remover is a good substitute. Again, do your test on an area of leather that doesn’t show to make sure the color will be safe. Some people also report that baby wipes or witch hazel can also be used to remove light ink stains from leather. You may need to experiment to see which solution work best for your particular type of leather and ink stain.

To help to make your leather items more stain resistant, try treating them with a leather protection cream to repel dirt and stains. Lightly clean your leather periodically with a damp cloth to keep it fresh and vibrant.

You can worry a bit less about your two year old and his magic market or your dog on the couch with a pen in his mouth now that you know the secrets of how to clean ink off of leather.

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Published in: Homemaking


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  1. Rubbing alcohol worked using a Q-tip. I then wiped over the area with a damp cloth and dried to remove the alcohol. Got blue biro off a white leather sofa no problem.

  2. If no rubbing alcohol (for our Brits) try vodka or any white spirit with a cotton bud. It may work…

  3. The acetone free nail polish remover took blue pen ink off a red leather sofa – and the vodka (when drunk) stupped us worry about it anyway!

  4. Rubbing alcohol works really well! I had blue pen on a tan leather La-Z-Boy recliner and it came off so smoothly!

  5. you can use hand sanitizer

  6. alcohol did not remove the purple indian government security ink from my beige Prada handbag. but did get off lots of other dirt i didn’t know was there…

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