How to Remove Ink-Pen Marks From Leather

Whether someone left a pen on your favorite leather chair or a child scribbled beyond the edge of a piece of paper onto the couch, ink stains happen. Instead of resorting to harsh chemicals that may damage the leather, act quickly to treat the marks as soon as they're noticed. The sooner you clean them, the greater the chance they can be removed easily. Test cleaning solutions such as rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous area first to be sure they don't discolor the leather.

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Paper Towel Pat-Down

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If you're lucky enough to spot the ink marks moments after they happen, grab a plain paper towel and pat them, pressing the paper firmly onto the ink to absorb some if it. Any ink that transfers onto the paper is less ink that soaks into the leather. Avoid the urge to rub or wipe the ink, which may spread it and create a bigger mess.

Slightly Soapy Solution

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While soap and water may not do much for an old ink stain, it can remove the ink if the mark is fresh or if the ink is washable. Squirt a drop of a mild dish soap onto a damp white cloth and dab the ink marks. Wipe gently, following the ink lines or scribbles from one end to another, rather than rubbing across the line. Check the cloth frequently to see if any ink has transferred onto it. If so, continue wiping with a fresh area of the cloth.

Swab the Surface

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Rubbing alcohol, used sparingly, removes ink marks from leather. Apply a little alcohol onto the tip of a cotton swab and wipe the ink, following it from one end to the other rather than rubbing across the stain, which may spread it. Check the cotton swab after rubbing it over every inch of ink -- if the swab has ink on it, replace it with a fresh one to avoid spreading the stain.

Toothpaste Touch-Up

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Apply a small amount of a white non-gel toothpaste to the tip of a cotton swab or your finger, spreading it over the ink mark. After a few minutes, wipe the toothpaste up with a a damp white cloth wrapped around your finger, or a slightly damp sponge, following the direction of the ink or toothpaste mark. Continue wiping until all the toothpaste has been removed. Toothpaste contains gentle abrasives that can scrub some ink stains away without damaging the leather. Do not soak the leather with water, as this may cause damage.

Commercial Leather Cleaners

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Some leather-specific cleaning solutions can remove ink marks from the furniture. Wipe the area down with a general leather cleaner if the ink is dry, and then use an ink remover designed for leather over the stains. Clean the leather again with general leather cleaner to remove any filmy residue left by the ink remover. Since ink removers may contain strong chemicals, treat the leather with a leather conditioner afterward to protect it.