How do you get ink out of leather?

At some point, we have all had to deal with leaky inks and what they have done to the new leather jacket, purse, couch, or car seats you just purchased. You might have just put a broken ballpoint pen or sharpie in your pants pocket or leather bag by mistake, and then out of the blue, you notice a blue or black blotch is there.

In order to take some precautions so that any kind of blotch mark doesn’t last for a long time, you need to educate yourself with a few basics regarding this issue. Because without having proper knowledge if you try something, there is a chance of you making more damage to your leather and that would be surely frustrating. Keep in mind that you definitely don’t want to cover up or throw away an expensive and good-looking piece of furniture or purse because of this.

Luckily, you will find some tried-and-true methods for you in this guide. Some processes require customized ink removers, and plenty of them might need nothing more than household cleaning products. In this guideline of ours, we have assembled the most effective ways to help you out.

Before attempting any of these steps mentioned below, first, you should determine what kind of leather you have and what kind of ink is involved in the affected area.

Table of contents

  1. Types of leather
  2. Materials or tools you need to remove ink stain
  3. Before you start
  4. How to remove ink from a leather couch?
  5. How to remove pen ink from leather?
  6. How to remove pen ink from car leather?

Types of leather


Suede is known as the inner surface of animal hides. It is visible on the underside of leather, as it is a material made by processing the hides, pelts, and skins of animals in a range of ways. Astonishingly, suede leather can be made from almost any animal hide. Though the most common is lamb, alongside goat, deer, pig, and calf. Suede is popular to be used in traditional Western leather jackets.

If your jacket faces any accidental incident regarding ink then you need to take your garment to a professional dry cleaner that specializes in cleaning suede.

Smooth leather

Smooth leather is something that is made with the grain side pressed against a sheet of plate glass. It is also known as ‘plated leather’. It has a very small amount of grain texture on the hair side which distinguishes it from normal leather. But eventually, the portion of grain texture differs depending on the animal it was taken from.

In case of ink splatters on your smooth leather, first, examine cleaning methods in an unnoticeable place and proceed with care. If your accessory or garment is very expensive and you might get devastated if you ruin it, then don’t take any risk and take it to a professional cleaner.

Other kinds

Vinyl, pleather (artificial leather), or faux leather.

Materials or tools you need to remove ink stain

  1. Water
  2. Liquid soap (mild)
  3. White rags
  4. Qtips
  5. Rubbing alcohol
  6. Liquid cuticle remover
  7. Leather conditioner
  8. Isopropyl alcohol-based hairspray

Before you start

Repeatedly using plenty of variables, for example, different kinds of cleaning agents on leather may affect its quality and its reaction towards them. You won’t be able to always examine every cleaning method before starting to treat the damaged area.

Our recommendation for you is to use the following remedies only on finished leather, which contains a securing coating that will stop the ink from being fully consumed. If it is a case of unfinished leather, under other conditions, the ink will get deeply soaked, maybe then you can call for professional help as it is out of your hand. To be sure whether your leather is finished or unfinished you can drop a little water on an unnoticeable part. You have a finished leather if the water rolls off; and if not, if the water is soaked up, then your leather is unfinished.

How to remove ink from a leather couch?

We already know it’s quite impossible to get ink out of leather. There is a probability that, you might need to hire professionals to get it done and restore the leather of your couch. To avoid that you can try following these steps.

Dry paper towel

You need to wipe up the ink with a dry paper towel, and you should try not to spread the stain. Use a small amount of moisturizing soap and water to clean what doesn’t easily come off with the dry paper towel.

Commercial grade leather care product

You can also apply a commercial-grade leather care product to the stained spot. For that at first, you need to choose one that is made for removing ink stains. This is the easiest and safest way to deal with when you have expensive leather furniture. After that apply leather cleaner on the stain, and also follow up with some leather protector to fix the leather’s finish.

Cotton swab

Use a cotton swab by rubbing it in alcohol and use it over the spot. Then dry the area with your blow dryer so the alcohol dissolves before creating more damage to the leather. You should only try this if you don’t have access to leather care products.


You can douse the stained area with a hairspray. Then immediately wipe up the hairspray, and by applying a small portion of moisturizing soap and water you can try to remove the ink stain. Just like alcohol, you should only apply this method if you don’t have access to leather care products.

It is necessary to clean up the ink stain as quickly as you can. The longer the stains are set the harder it will be for you to get it off.

Question mark with idea text

Did you know?

Finding leaks in an air mattress can be tricky. However, as with inks and leather products, there are some proven methods to localize the spot. They also work for any product that contains air. In case you face an issue like this, I recommend checking out our article about finding leaks in an air mattress.

How to remove pen ink from leather?

We are lucky that there are some tried-and-true methods for getting ink out of leather. Some ways need specialized ink removers, and plenty of them require only household cleaning products and nothing more than that. In this article, you will learn the most effective ways to remove pen ink from leather.

Homemade leather cleaner for non-white leather

You will need one part lemon juice and one part cream of tartar to make this cleaner. Start mixing the two ingredients into a paste. Then, apply the paste to the ink-stained spot by using a microfiber cloth. Let the paste work into the stain, and allow it to sit for a few hours if there is still any amount of remaining stains. Clean the affected portion with a damp cloth, then apply a commercial or DIY leather conditioner to make sure that the leather is alright.

Homemade leather cleaner for white leather

You need ¼ cup vinegar and ½ cup of olive oil to make the cleaner. Firstly, take a spray bottle and mix these ingredients in it. Then you can spray the mixture on the affected area, and allow it to sit for five minutes or so before wiping it off.

Dry cleaner

If all of the above methods fail and you are willing to pay to get your leather purse or sofa back to the previous condition then take your leather to a professional dry cleaner. Because they have a lot of more effective tools and tricks to get out pen ink from leather, and they have access to more powerful cleaning chemical agents for this kind of situation.

Also, as same as with other kinds of leather, you can use hairspray and if it doesn’t work you can apply alcohol just like we discussed above.

How to remove pen ink from car leather?

You need to follow the list below if you are dealing with a messy ink-stained situation in your car.

Hairspray or Alcohol

Similarly, like other solutions we have talked about in this article, you can apply both of these mixtures on car seats too.

Nail polish remover

For deeper ink stains, you can use nail polish remover to lift it up. Apply a small portion of your remover onto the stain with a cotton swab. Then rub the place gently and blot it with a clean, damp cloth. Again, repeat the method with a clean cotton swab.

Aerosol brake parts cleaner

For deep ink stains, you can also use aerosol brake parts cleaner by applying it to the stained area. Keep in mind to use this strong solution with caution, and keep in mind carefully that you should never use brake parts cleaner that foams. Apply a small amount on a cotton swab and rub the stained spot as you have done with other methods. Then blot it with a clean cloth.


As we know leather goods are investment materials that need special care, which is why it can be frustrating when they get stained with extensive, tough-to-clean splashed ink. It can be a bursting pen in your handbag or a felt-tip marker leaked on your car seat. Whatever it is you need to act quickly when ink hits leather to prevent lasting discoloration and damage. Luckily, all of the above tested and DIY methods we have given here will help you to have an idea for how to remove ink from leather by using only household products you likely already have on hand, which will also save you a trip to the store.

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