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Removing Ink from Leather

I used hairspray to remove ink (from a ball point pen) on my green leather three-piece suite and it worked. Apply hairspray to a dry cloth and gently work into the affected area. The area will then become sticky so apply a damp cloth and then dry. Do this as soon as possible as some dye will be removed from leather while applying hairspray. -

Mark from Wales, UK

Removing Ink from Leather 06/11/2003
The active ingredient in things like hairspray etc. is the alcohol. The safe alcohol is isopropanol, which is found in common rubbing alcohol. I used a 70% isopropanol on my brand new leather sofa to remove ball point ink. It worked extremely well. Rubbing alcohol is 70% isopropanol and nothing else. So to prevent residues from being deposited it is recommended to use this. If your are in a bind I recommend Vodka, and stuff like hairspray, or even a high proof whisky! In fact anything with alcohol will work, only you have to worry what OTHER stuff is in the solution you use. Hence I recommend simple rubbing alcohol. A good substitute is the fluid used to clean tape heads and VCR heads. The beauty is that it simple alcohol evaporates almost instantly so no further mess.

DO NOT USE NAIL POLISH REMOVER. It contains ACETONE, not Alcohol. AGAIN DO NOT USE NAIL POLISH REMOVER although it SMELLS somewhat like alcohol. USE YOUR NOGGIN, read the label. Acetone is too strong, and can dissolve most dyes.

BE CAREFUL, on dark colors. No matter what tip, dark colors can be tricky. If your color is light beige, white and cream the alcohol trick should be extremely safe. If the leather is smooth and not a soft (absorbent kind) the dyes are generally fast, but WATCH OUT! ALWAYS TEST AN INCONSPICUOUS SPOT.


  • Take the rubbing alcohol on a cloth or paper towel.

  • Rub into the spot. Get the area wet. Before the alcohol evaporates absorb it into a clean cloth/paper towel by pressing on the spot.

  • The absorbing will help remove the dissolved ink, rather than leave on the leather.

  • Repeat to clean to satisfaction.

This should work on most ink types, and some color markers, or other coloring material. Alcohol dissolves most types of marker ink, though once marker ink dries for too long it requires much more work.


Enjoy your couch!

Avoid Acetone 06/25/2003
AN UPDATE: Some rubbing alcohol is 70% ethanol, but also contains acetone and other organics as "inactive" ingredients. AVOID THIS, because of the acetone. I have used this on real light colorfast leather with no problem, but I cannot recommend it.

Note 70% ethanol by itself will not be sold since it is good for drinking! It is always dosed with other "spirits". Here is a link to Rite Aid's 70% ISOPROANOL (or ISOPROPYL ALCOHOL): Cost: $ 0.59

Removing Ink from Leather 04/27/2004
Alcohol worked like a charm. Thanks for the tip!
By designerliz (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 10/01/2004
Mark, Mark, Mark, I CANNOT thank you enough. Was talking on the phone to my mom for about five minutes while my three-year-old was happily watching teletubbies, drinking apple juice and eating pirate's booty. I glanced over at him and he was DRAGGING a black ball-point pen along the arm of our BRAND-NEW leather sofa (still owe $600 on)! Hairspray took it right out. Massive thanks for the tip.
By sue
Removing Ink from Leather 10/03/2004
Alcohol worked like a charm on my 02' 4 Runner. Thanks a bunch Mark! And thanks to Jeeves, you are now in my Favorites File.
By Sherman Smith (Guest Post)
Be Careful 10/13/2004
BE CAREFUL. I used 70% Isopropyl on 100% Italian leather and it took the color out. . I found if you dilute it with a little water it works better without taking out the color
By Brian (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 11/19/2004
Just wanted to say a huge thanks. Didn't have hair spray, so I used deodorant, and it really worked. Really bloody amazing. You are the man!
By Lob Ree (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 12/03/2004

I just wanted to let you know that I have a 2003 Lexus with a crème color interior. The other day I found a red ball point pen mark across part of the front seat. Not sure how it got there but nevertheless I was upset.

Did not have any hairspray so I used the 70% Isopropyl alcohol solution and IT WORKED!

Thanks for the great information

By Harry Washington DC USA (Guest Post)
Rubbing Alcohol 01/17/2005
I tried the rubbing alcohol thing on my new tan leather sofa to remove green marker that my 2 year old designed and that was the most useful tip I have ever used. Thank you thank you a million times.
By pam carver (Guest Post)
Hair Spray 01/20/2005
I used pump hair spray on my white leather coach purse. What a miracle! Came right out with a little bit of scrubbing.
By Jenna (Guest Post)
After shave 03/28/2005
I tried everything, from tomatoes, polish and the only thing that worked was after shave, after I did this it came out, but I put leather wax on it after just to protect it as it went a bit soft. It did not take the color out. Thanks for the tip.
By (Guest Post)
Nothing Worked for Me 08/01/2005
We have a brand new expensive leather couch. My son marked on it with an ink pen in several places. First I tried hairspray, which didn't work. Second I tried rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous place. It tore the leather up. so I diluted it. That didn't ruin the leather in the same fashion, but it did make the ink stain worse.
By Amy (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 11/07/2005
I discovered blue ink marks on my white leather chair, found this web site, took the advice of many who used 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and it worked like a charm the ink came right out. Thanks!
By Doug Burke (Guest Post)
Alcohol 11/15/2005
I tried hairspray on my leather car seat and the ink didn't budge, then I tried rubbing alcohol. The ink lifted off with some scrubbing. This after the ink setting in for 2 days! It worked great!

Do not buy car products for cleaning leather. All it will do is clean the leather, not remove the ink.

By Barb (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 12/02/2005
I used the rubbing alcohol on the ink mark, and it worked great! My sofa is off white. Thanks for your help.
By (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 12/08/2005
I used 70% Isopropyl with a paper towel on my SUV's console that got inked. It came off in 2 minutes. THANKS!
By Reggie (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 12/21/2005
Thanks! My daughter wrote all over our couch with a blue pen. I ran to this web site and it saved me! I ran and got my hairspray and it came right out! Thanks!
By christina (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 01/15/2006
I used your idea to get deep blue ink from the stupid valet off our new car's white leather interior with great success. Worth the effort to look your site up. Thanks a bunch!
By (Guest Post)
Mr. Clean 01/24/2006
If your worried about staining your couch with alcohol, deodorant or after shave lotion stop worrying. I just used MR. CLEAN MAGIC ERASER PADS on my creme colored 100% italian leather couch and it worked! No worry about it staining. I wet the pad a little bit and out it came.
By Jenny Bushey (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 03/11/2006
We have black ink on our brown leather sofa. I tried rubbing alcohol, hairspray, Magic Eraser, and leather cleaner - nothing has budged the stain.
By Heather (Guest Post)
Target Magic Eraser 03/15/2006
I just used a Target Magic Eraser Pad on my white leather jacket and it removed the ink off almost too easily, I was so amazed, I didn't even need to wet the pad.
By Christine (Guest Post)
GOOP 04/06/2006
I tried everything mentioned on the feedback and then some. Nothing worked. Then I thought about it.

GOOP. I tried it and it worked with no color change to leather (actually conditioned the leather) , no scrubbing or rubbing , and took ink out of leather trailblazer seat. In the automotive section at Wal-mart , less than a dollar , smear on with your hand , let sit about 10 minutes , wipe off with damp rag. did it twice and no hint it ever existed , no scrubbing , cleans and conditions.
By brandy (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 05/10/2006
I used 99% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol. It worked but it took a lot of rubbing. It didn't harm the leather or the color but I tested it in an inconspicuous spot first. According to my five year old, the ink had been there a few days and that could be why it was so hard to get out! It was gray leather in my brand new Durango.
By Wanda (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 05/20/2006
Used the hairspray on my leather jacket to get blue ink out and it worked. Yay! Thank you a billion times!
By Deedra (Guest Post)
Removing Ink from Leather 05/27/2006
Thank you so much! Me and my brother were watching tv when a pen in my pocket leaked! it got all over the sofa. I used after shave, hairspray and deodorant and it came out like magic. Grounding averted.
By Throquat (Guest Post)

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