How To Remove Ink From Leather? 8 Safe & Effective Techniques

How To Remove Ink From Leather

Throwing away a leather product due to a stain is not appropriate. Leather is a long-lasting, durable, and tear-resistant material that needs extra care. There is always a chance of getting stains on your leather bags, furniture, and shoes.

If you notice a stain on your sofa or bag, you need to act quickly to wash it. Knowledge of accurate methods is essential in order to remove ink stains from leather products.

In this blog, we will explain in depth how to remove different types of ink stains from leather products. Moreover, we will provide care tips and cleaning methods.

Points To Remember Before Cleaning Leather

If the stain is fresh, it is easier to remove it, regardless of the type of ink (pen, marker, ballpoint, or permanent). Act quickly but with care to remove the stains. Knowledge about various kinds of leather is also necessary before cleaning a specific leather product.

Spot Test

Firstly, conduct a spot test on the stained leather product. For this purpose, use the inner side of the leather, which is not visible. Note any changes that may occur due to the chemicals used for cleaning. If the leather is not damaged, you can use that chemical product to remove the stain. 

Damp Cloth

Do not rub the stains vigorously with chemicals. Instead, use a damp cloth or paper towel to soak the stain in water. Dry rubbing may increase the stain area and will not be easily erased.

Dab the stain until the moisture is absorbed. This reduces the ink flow onto the leather, nullifying the effect of the ink on the leather. 

Type of Leather

There is a difference in the nature of synthetic and genuine products. Synthetic leather, such as polyurethane, faux, or vegan, does not contain pores, as it is made of chemicals after a standard procedure. Stains will not spread onto these leathers.

On the other hand, genuine leather is susceptible to stains and water. Suede or nubuck leather has protein fibers on the external surface. These fibers make the leather porous and allow the absorbance of ink or other liquids. 

It is essential to take extra care of these types of leather products. Call a professional to properly clean the suede and nubuck leather. 

Methods For Removing Ink From Leather

Leather looks sturdy and hard, but it is also a soft material that needs proper attention while cleaning. Using the right chemicals or solution to clean leather is essential for its appearance and shelf life. 

Leather Cleaners

Specific leather cleaner solutions are available in the market to remove ink stains from bags, shoes, sofas, car interiors, and other leather products. These cleaners completely remove ink stains.

It rejuvenates the leather by moisturizing the outer layer of the products, which brings back the original shine and color. Some people prefer the vintage look of leather, so they use natural ways to clean leather products.

Removing Ink Using Soap & Water

Remove Ink Using Soap & Water using water

Soap and mild water are the best practices for cleaning the leather without damaging it. This method works well for less dense and viscous inks. 

Fill a bowl with lukewarm water and add a few drops of clean liquid soap. After mixing, dip a microfiber cloth into the water. Use a damp cloth to rub the stain area of the leather gently. 

Dry well with a paper towel or another soft cloth. Repeat the process until the stain is completely gone. 

Removing Ink with Rubbing Alcohol

Removal of hard ink stains can be a challenge. Due to the excessive number of inks in the market, choosing the ideal solvent system to get ink off leather takes a lot of work. This leads to various ways of removing pen or ballpoint inks using different alcohol concentrations.

After conducting a spot test with the selected alcohol solution, you are ready to follow the procedure to remove the ink stains. You will need cotton balls, cotton swabs, a clean cloth, rubbing alcohol (90% IPA), and a bowl.

Dab the stain area gently using a clean white cloth. This will prevent the ink stain from spreading.

Removing Ink with Baking Soda

Due to its alkaline nature, baking soda is used to clean dirt, oil, or ink stains from leather materials. Some people directly apply powder samples to the leather, but this is not considered a standard practice.

It is ideal to make a baking soda paste by mixing it with a small quantity of water. Use a lint cloth to wash the leather products with the formed paste. For scrubbing, use a brush or cloth. Repeat the process for effective results.

Removing Ink with Vinegar

Vinegar, also known as white vinegar, is a concentrated solvent used to remove stains from products. It must be diluted in a neutral solvent to make it useful for leather products; otherwise, it may cause discoloration of them. 

Test on a small spot before applying it to the stain areas. Grab a cloth and soak it in the solution. Gently rub it onto the stain areas. After you notice that the ink is removed, use a mixture of soap and water to clean the leather surface. This helps reduce the odor of vinegar and its aftereffect on the product. 

Removing Ink with Nail Polish Remover

You notice a stain on your handbag, shoes, or shoulder bag and don’t know how to clean it properly. Just look for a nail polish remover in the house, and it will solve your problem quickly. 

It is compulsory to use acetone-free products to clean the leather; otherwise, it can distort its external surface. Use a cotton swab or cotton ball to clean the pen or ballpoint ink. After the stain is gone, condition the leather, and you will be good to go.

Removing Ink Using The Magic Eraser

Melamine foam, also known as the magic eraser, is efficient at removing stains from leather and helps reduce the appearance of permanent ink stains. 

Soak the magic eraser in water and slightly rub it onto the stain area. It is important to rub the magic eraser calmly, as excessive use can dry the external surface of the leather.

Removing Ink with Natural Products

How To Remove Ink From leather wallet

Eco-friendly products provide a sense of relief when cleaning the leather surface. It will not affect the leather in any way. The products react with stains and remove them from the leather surface.

There are different procedures for light and dark leather products. Lemon juice and cream of tartar are preferable for lighter products. Paste these products and gently dab them onto the leather surface using a cloth.

Olive oil is used for dark leather essentials. Rub the olive oil onto the stain area and let it settle for some time. After a while, wipe it off using a clean lint cloth.

Removing Ink Stains from Leather Products

Common leather products used in daily life include various types of bags, shoes, belts, car seats, leather interiors, upholstery, and leather sofas. Ink stains must be cleaned as quickly as possible.

The necessary steps for removing ink stains are the same, but the procedure may vary depending on the nature of the product. Below are some common leather products and their standard methods of removing ink stains from them.

Leather Bag

removing ink from leather bag

Before removing the stains, empty the bag if any valuables are inside. Open all the zippered compartments and flip them upside down.

Clear any dirt present inside and clean it with a soft cloth. Conduct a spot test on the interior side to check the authenticity of your selected method. Rub the stain area gently until the stain is gone.

After cleaning, let the bag dry in a safe place away from direct sunlight. Conditioners are also an excellent choice to restore the shine of leather after cleaning.  

Leather Car Seats & Interior

Leather interiors and car seats are integral parts of luxury cars. Genuine leather is not common in low-end variants, but every type of leather needs some treatment to clean its surface. 

If you are sitting in your car and suddenly notice stains on the seats, quickly clean the area with a cloth to prevent the ink from spreading further. Special leather cleaners are effective at cleaning ink stains. 

Use a cloth to remove the ink from the leather surface. Repeat the process several times to achieve a positive result. After cleaning, leather shine products or conditioners are preferred to give the seats a genuine look.

Leather Sofa / Couch

How To Remove Ink From Leather sofa

Leather-finished furniture products are a thing of beauty in every house. It is eye-catching and comfortable to use. But if it gets a stain, it can be a pain. It reduces the attractiveness of the leather products. 

When you notice a stain on a sofa, act quickly and use a dry cloth to clean any excess ballpoint ink apart from the stain area.

Use rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or leather cleaners to clean the surface. First, conduct a spot test. Use a lint cloth to clean the ink stain. Let the leather surface absorb the solution mixture. After some time, clean the stain area with a neat cloth, and it will be as good as new. 

Tips to Clean Ink From Leather

removing ink from leather bag
  • Try to remove the ink stain if it is still wet. Don’t wait if you have noticed the stains. 
  • Don’t scrub way too hard. It damages the external layer of the leather, disrupting the color shade.
  • Clean sensibly. Avoid spreading the stain by cleaning it from the outside, leading to the center of the stain.
  • Don’t use colored clothes or towels to clean the stain areas. The color may spread onto the leather, which may further damage the products
  • Please don’t use harsh chemicals as they destroy the leather, making a hole in the leather products.
  • Don’t use hair sprays. It can cause spotting on leather products
  • Use a leather protectant after cleaning the stain. Due to the protective barrier, the stains will not spread into the leather surface.


The key to removing ink stains from leather is to act quickly but carefully. Before cleaning the ink stains, knowledge of the types of leather, their reactions to various products, and cleaning methods is needed. 

Getting a stain on products like sofas, car seats, bags, and shoes is common, and you can clean them using leather cleaners, vinegar, magic erasers, and other natural products. It’s not necessary to throw the product away in despair.

Using one of the above-mentioned methods, you can easily remove ink stains from your leather products. So, next time you encounter a stain on your leather products, you can easily remove it using our described methods. 

If you have any methodology-related queries, let us know in the comments section!

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