Remove Ink Stains from Leather Furniture

Ordinary Ink-removal products do not usually work on leather.


If your leather has a finish on it, you should be careful of the products you use to clean it. Many products will damage the leather by breaking down the material, removing the pigments and dyes or leaving a sticky residue that will attract dirt in the future.

Finished leather is best cleaned with a mild soap and very little water. If the ink stain is fresh, start here.

  • Using a clean cloth, lightly dampen it with water and apply a gently soap.
  • Work the soap into a lather on the cloth.
  • Blot the lather onto the stain and gently work it onto the leather.
  • Wipe away all soap with a clean, damp cloth and then polish with a clean, dry cloth.
  • You will want to condition your finished leather with a leather conditioner to preserve it’s luster and shine.

Alcohol, hairspray, and baby wipes will only damage the finish of the leather and quite possibly remove the pigments. Since the ink on the leather is essentially a dye, and you are trying to remove it, anything that gets the ink off will likely discolor the leather as well. This is why you should use great care and not be afraid to consult a professional. We cannot fix everything on our own!


Similar methods can be used to clean your unfinished leather, but certainly not similar products. For your unfinished leather, you will want to use a saddle soap, much in the same way you used regular soap earlier.

  • Dampen a cloth and work saddle soap in to a lather on the cloth.
  • Using circular motions, wipe saddle soap onto are needing cleaned.
  • Allow the soap to settle into the leather for a few minutes.
  • Use a clean, moist cloth to remove all traces of the saddle soap and dry thoroughly.
  • Condition with leather conditioner.

Avoid Mink Oils, as they will only spread a greasy appearance over the spot and leave the rest of the leather unfinished. When conditioning either type of leather, try to wipe away loose dirt and debris and condition the whole piece of material to maintain continuity in the finish.


Older stains normally require the use of strong solvent based products, and although many such cleaning products are available for the homeowner, their use is best left to the professional upholsterer. Solvent based cleaning products could easily damage the leather to a degree when the only repair is to replace.

There are many home based solutions for removing ink stains from leather and though these may work successfully on some ink stains, some could also cause damage to the leather. With all home based leather cleaning solutions, it is best to test on a hidden area before going all out on the affected area.

The most commonly used ink removal technique is to make use of rubbing alcohol, rubbed onto the ink stain.

In general the use of such things as hairspray, baby wipes and nail varnish remover will only make the situation worse, often spreading the ink stain rather than removing it, and also causing damage to the finish of the leather furniture.


It is very important before you start on your ink stain to test any cleaning product on an inconspicuous place.

This will tell you if the color will run and leave a bigger mark than the ink stain you are trying to remove. Leave the cleaner to sit for at least ten minutes before you remove it. If it hasn’t caused any reaction on the test patch, you can continue on removing your ink stain.

There are many products available in the market these days which can facilitate your task.

Some of the brands which you should be familiar with include

  • Guardsman,
  • Ink Off
  • Leather Magic

Choosing the best out of these might be a little complicated but it is advised that before getting practical, read the labels on each and every bottle to decide which one would be the best to solve your situation.


Alcohol: This will only dry out the leather. It may slowly remove the stain, but your product will suffer. Before you resort to alcohol, call for help.

Baby wipes: These will eat away the leather (finished or not) and lead to tears and discoloration in the long run.

Milk: It may sound good, but milk will just leave behind a sticky mess and leads to future cracks in the surface.

Oils: Many leather oils exist, but use them carefully. Research your product and consider the finish before applying an oil product to your leather. Go for gentle soaps and leather conditioners first.


These solutions apply to all leather, from couches to jackets, purses, and pants. While cleaning a spot off your leather, keep in mind that cleaning that one spot may make the rest of the leather look dirty. If your leather couch is old, worn, or dirty overall, you may consider moving from cleaning the one spot to cleaning the entire couch. In this case it is a good idea to use leather cleaner, as opposed to washing your entire couch with hair spray.

One last thing to consider while cleaning your leather couch is leather conditioner. Whether you are removing a tiny pen mark or a major ink spill, it is a good idea to use a leather conditioner afterward to maintain the beauty and durability of the leather.

There are ways of reducing the damage of an ink stain from every occurring. There area a number of leather protector products available, and if regularly applied will build up a protective leather against dirt and stains, helping to clean the leather furniture as well as helping to prevent the leather from cracking.


Try to remove the stain on your own first. But before resorting to hairspray, alcohol or lemon juice, think about how much money this couch cost you.

Is it worth all that money to go about this determined to fix it yourself? I would rather call for help or find a way to deal with an ink stain than to see my leather couch get destroyed by cleaning products that will only leave behind discoloration and future cracks.

An ink stain looks yucky, but cracks will hurt your skin and look even more unappealing than a line of ink.

Call the professionals if you can’t remove the stain on your own with these few tips. You will be much happier in the long run!