How to Clean Ink Out of Leather: A Step by Step Guide

cleaning leather sofa with sponge and towel at home

How to Clean Ink Out of Leather: A Step by Step Guide

Table of Contents

Ink can stain just about anything, because that’s what it is meant to do. Ink is made from a wide variety of industrial mixtures that essentially put colour on stuff. Unfortunately, it can put colour where you don’t want it as well – like on your leather furniture or clothing.

Cleaning ink off of leather is tricky, but it can be done. ALl you need is a little patience and a few common ink solvents. As cleaning experts, we’re here to walk you through removing ink from leather in a simple step-by-step guide.


Step 1: Blot

If the ink just got on your leather upholstery or clothing, start by blotting. Take a clean cloth or paper towel and gently dab the ink stain without moving the cloth around. This will pick up excess ink and, hopefully, make your stain-removal job easier.

Blot until the ink dries and no more ink will come away on your cloth.


Step 2: Select Your Ink Solvent

  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Vinegar
  • Dish Washing Liquid
  • Cream of Tartar

The next step is to pick an ink solvent. Inks are made of many chemicals, and they don’t always respond to the same solvent. There are a few common ink solvents that are safe to use on leather and you likely have in your cupboard at home. We advise gathering a small cup of each of the solvents listed above,. You will also need

  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • Cotton balls or swabs

Rubbing alcohol can be used directly out of the bottle. Mix your white vinegar 1:1 with warm water. Mix a few drops of gentle dish soap into a bowl of water. Use cream of tartar or baking powder only on light-coloured leather items. To do so, mix the cream of tartar with a few drops of lemon juice to form a paste.


Step 3: The Inward Dabbing Method

Once you have a solvent ready, it’s time to apply the inward dab. Soak a cotton ball or swab in one of your solvents, like alcohol or vinegar, and gently dab inward over the stain. This ensures that as the ink dissolves, it does not spread outward to form a larger stain. Roll a cotton swab inward or gently dab a soaked tip of cloth toward the centre of the stain again and again.

If ink starts to come up, switch to a new cotton or corner of your rag and soak in solvent to continue. Be careful, do not saturate the ink too much or the stain might spread.

If your first solvent doesn’t work after a few minutes of dabbing, switch to the next with a clean cloth or cotton.

Cream of Tartar Special Instructions

For pale and cream-coloured leather items, you can create a paste with cream of tartar and a few drops of lemon juice. Spread the paste over the ink stain and leave it for 10-30 minutes. When you return, gently flake the dried paste off the stain and see if it has had an effect. Cream of tartar is slightly bleaching, so only use on pale leather.


Step 4: Rinse and Repeat

Once you start to get some ink onto your cotton or rag, keep going. It may take a while to very carefully pull the ink out of your leather clothing or upholstery, but it will be worth the wait. While you are dabbing, rinsing, soaking in solvent, and dabbing again, now is a good time to put on a TV show or podcast to keep your mind busy while your hands do careful work.


Hopefully, your ink stain is now gone or almost invisible and you can return to enjoying your leather without worry about an unsightly stain. For more helpful cleaning guides or to contract a commercial cleaning service in the London area, contact us today.

Regional Services

Regional Services

Regional Services are an experienced commercial and office cleaning company based in London. Regional Services are an award winning and fully accredited cleaning company who provide a full range of facility management services and expertise including cleaning, maintenance, waste removal, pest control, gardening and more.


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