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How to Remove Ink from Leather [7 Working Methods]

How to Remove Ink from Leather [7 Working Methods]

Whether your toddler had some fun with a pen on your leather couch or you accidentally left an ink pen open in your leather messenger bag, you are probably wondering how to remove ink from leather. We all know that leather is durable, but we still want to make sure that we don’t cause any damage to it when trying to get an ink stain out. The tips and suggestions shared below will help you learn effective ways to remove ink from leather without causing any damage.

How To Remove Ink From Leather

In the next few sections, we’ll share a variety of methods you can try to help you learn how to get pen out of leather. Every leather item is different, and inks can also vary, so don’t be afraid to try a few suggestions until you find one that will work for your specific stain. The good news is that most of the suggestions below use items that you may already have around your home, including soap and water, hairspray, rubbing alcohol, and vinegar.

Before Trying to Clean Leather

Before we jump right into how to remove ink from leather, there are a few important things to point out. First, it is important to act quickly to remove the spot. The longer the stain stays on the item, the more difficult it will be to remove. If the stain is fresh, it will come out more easily. If the stain is wet with excess ink, immediately wipe it using a dry paper towel to remove as much ink as possible. Just be careful not to inadvertently spread the ink around and stain more of the item.

You should also always perform a spot test before attempting to clean your leather goods. As mentioned earlier, the different types of leather may respond differently to the various cleaning methods outlined below. Before trying to remove the spot, perform a spot test with the cleaner you plan to use in an inconspicuous area. If it doesn’t negatively impact the appearance of the leather, you should be fine to move on to trying to remove the ink stain.

how to clean leather from stains

Some leather cleaners can be drying. After learning how to get ink out of leather by following the tips below, remember to follow up with a good leather conditioner to moisturize your piece and keep it soft and supple.

Soap and Water

When you’re looking for how to remove ink stain from leather garments, leather messenger bags, or leather furniture, one of the best methods is just to use soap and water. In a small bowl, combine warm water with just a few drops (one or two) of a clear, mild dish soap or saddle soap.

Leather Messenger Bag
Leather Messenger Bag
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Removing stains using the soapy water is simple: dip a soft cloth in the soapy water solution, and gently rub on the ink stain. Start on the outer edges of the stain, and work your way towards the center, stopping to rinse off the cloth or replace it if it is holding too much ink.

Rubbing Alcohol

If you have an ink stain on leather, rubbing or isopropyl alcohol can also come in handy. Dip a sponge or cotton swab in a small amount of rubbing alcohol and dab around the ink stain. As you work, you should notice the ink lifting onto the sponge. Then, use a paper towel or dry cloth to dry the leather.

Alcohol is very drying and can leave leather goods (leather journals) more brittle. For this reason, it is important to make sure you don’t use too much alcohol when cleaning and to follow up the cleaning with a leather conditioner.


Another option to consider when you're trying to figure out how to remove pen ink from leather is to use white vinegar. Straight vinegar is too strong, so begin by diluting the vinegar with water in a 1:1 ratio. Dip a clean, soft cloth into the vinegar and water mixture, and then use the cloth to dab at the ink stain. Continue gently blotting the stain until all the ink lifts off the leather.
After you have finished removing ink from the leather, mix one drop of clear, mild dish soap with warm water. Use a clean soft cloth to blot at the area to remove the vinegar odor from the leather.


An alcohol based hairspray can also be a good tool when you’re trying to remove an ink stain from your leather couch, jacket, or bag. Many hairsprays feature alcohol as one of their main ingredients, so they can work similarly to rubbing alcohol to help you remove stains. To use hairspray on a leather stain, hold the canister very close to the spot with the nozzle pointed directly at the stain. This will help protect the non-stained areas of your leather from getting dried out.

Spray the hairspray and let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes. Then, carefully rinse the spot using cold water and use a clean and dry cloth to dab away the ink stain.

Nail Polish Remover

If you’re looking for the best product to use to remove a deeply set-in stain from your leather seats, leather jacket, or leather duffle bag, nail polish removers can be a good option. Always choose acetone-free nail polish remover, however, as the acetone is too abrasive and can damage leather’s structure. To remove ink from leather using nail polish remover, dip a clean sponge or cotton swab in the liquid, then use it to dab at the stain until all of the ink transfers. Follow up by rinsing and conditioning the area.

Leather Duffle Bag
Leather Duffle Bag
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Magic Eraser

A Magic Eraser can sometimes also help with removing ink stains from a leather surface. Magic Erasers are made from melamine foam. When the melamine foam is rubbed over the stained area, it could help minimize the appearance of the stain or remove all of the ink from the item.

Contact a Professional

When you’ve tried the suggestions above or are worried about causing additional damage to your favorite leather products, you could also consider contacting a professional. Find a professional cleaner that is well-versed with how to remove ink stains from leather, and they should be able to take care of the task for you and help ensure your item continues to look its best after cleaning.

Final Thoughts: Removing Ink Stains

If you found this post worried about how you would be able to remove ink from leather, we hope you’ve found the answers you were looking for. While getting ink on your favorite leather sofa, bag, or garment certainly isn’t ideal, it also doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Using one of the methods shared above should help you return your treasured leather items like bags, wallets, or leather folders to its original beauty.


Does vinegar remove ink from leather?

Yes, if you’re looking for how to remove pen from leather, vinegar can help. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar and one part water. When removing the ink with the solution, rub gently using a soft cloth.

Does toothpaste remove ink from leather?

Yes, toothpaste can be another option to try when you want to know how to get ink off leather. Use only white, non-gel toothpaste, and rub it gently along the ink mark using a damp cloth. After cleaning with toothpaste, follow up with a little rubbing alcohol diluted with water.

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