How to Remove Ink Stains from Leather: A Step-by-Step Guide

Removing ink stains from leather can be a daunting task, whether it’s from a leaked pen in your purse or a child’s scribbles on a sofa. However, with patience and the appropriate supplies, it is possible to effectively remove ink from leather surfaces. The process varies depending on the type of ink—ballpoint and washable markers are generally easier to remove compared to permanent markers.

Follow these steps to eliminate ink stains from smooth leather furniture, such as automobile upholstery, clothing, or accessories (note: suede requires different treatment)


Materials Needed for Removing Ink Stains from Leather

Equipment / Tools:

  • White cloths
  • Bowl or dishpan


  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Leather conditioner

These essential items are necessary for effectively removing ink stains from leather surfaces.


How to Remove Ink Stains From Leather: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Blot Fresh Ink: Immediately blot fresh ink stains with a dry white cloth or paper towel. Avoid rubbing to prevent smearing. Continuously use a clean section of the cloth to absorb ink and prevent it from spreading.
  2. Perform a Colorfast Test: Before treating the stain, perform a colorfastness test in an inconspicuous area of the leather. Dab a cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol on an interior seam or hidden spot. If the leather dye transfers onto the swab, consider professional cleaning or proceed cautiously.
  3. Treat the Ink Stain:
    • Moisten a fresh cotton swab or white cloth with isopropyl alcohol.
    • Start dabbing from the outer edges of the stain towards the center to contain the ink.
    • Rotate the cloth or use a new swab as ink transfers to avoid spreading it back onto the leather.
    • Continue gently blotting until the ink diminishes. For persistent stains, repeat the process as needed.
  4. Dry and Condition the Leather:
    • Allow the treated area to air dry naturally away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
    • Once dry, apply a suitable leather conditioner to maintain the leather’s suppleness and prevent drying. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
    • It’s recommended to condition the entire leather item to ensure uniform texture and color.


Additional Tips for Removing Ink Stains From Leather

When dealing with ink stains on leather, it’s crucial to handle them with care to avoid causing further damage or discoloration. Here are some expert tips to effectively manage ink stains:

  • Avoid Scrubbing: Refrain from scrubbing leather surfaces, such as upholstery or purses, as this can strip away color and damage the finish over time.
  • Avoid Hairspray: Despite popular belief, using hairspray to remove stains from leather is not advisable. Modern hairsprays contain ingredients that may cause spotting and potentially harm the leather.
  • Use White Materials: When treating ink stains or conditioning leather, always use white cloths or cotton swabs. Colored napkins or towels can transfer dye onto the leather, creating additional stains.
  • Preventive Measures: To prevent ink stains on leather purses, store pens in leak-proof zipper bags. This simple precaution can help safeguard your leather items from accidental spills.






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