April 24, 2009 § Leave a comment

Ink removal from leather is one of the most frequently asked questions that we get about leather and its care.

Professional Ink Remover for Leather

Professional Ink Remover for Leather

There are many ‘old wives tales’ and household remedies for removal of ink but these should be used with extreme caution as more damage can be done which may then leave your leather unrepairable (even by a qualified technician)

Ink on leather is not a straight forward cleaning problem.

The ink from the pen or marker has redyed the leather so needs careful removal. The type of leather you have will determine the success. To check what type of leather you have see hereIf the ink is on a pigmented leather then the first thing you should try is an ink remover specifically formulated for use on leather (find one that is a professional product used in the industry – LTT do an ink gel).

The fresher the ink the more chance you have of removing it. Be sure to check the type of leather you have before doing this as if you use these on aniline style leathers  it will not work and may leave a greasy mark which will not go away.

Old ink will be harder to remove than fresh ink and may mean resorting to solvents which will also remove the finish. This is probably best left to the experts.

If an ink remover doesn’t work a solvent based remover will need to be used which may also remove finish and pigment so is best left to a leather specialist.

Using hairspray/WD40 and other solvent cleaners is very risky and can make the problem far worse. It can also spread the ink over a larger area which may make a successful repair impossible.

Using alcohol, perfume, etc. can also be a little risky depending on how stable the finish is. If the finish is unstable this would remove pigment from the leather.

Nail varnish remover or any other solvents will also remove the finish and/or pigment which will then need replacing.


Baby wipes –  these are one of  the worst thing you can use on a leather as they break down the finish which will over time cause peeling and more serious problems.

Milk or Toothpaste – these are silly ideas that will leave sticky residues on the surface which will help to break down the finish on your leather.

Magic erasers – these usually remove finish and pigment along with the ink. These have been well tested by leather specialists who have found that they work like a very fine sandpaper which permanently damages the top finish on the leather.

Silicones/furniture polish – these should never be used on leather as they will form a coating on the surface of the leather which will not allow any moisture to get to the leather and will eventually break the finish down.

Leather should be cleaned gently and not scrubbed so ‘elbow grease’ will only damage the finish.

Hide food will not remove ink and will leave residues on the leather which will attract dirt and oils.

Ink on Aniline Leather

If the ink is on an aniline leather then there is nothing that will work if leather cleaner has not. Basically you have redyed the leather and you would need a specialist to resolve the problem. Using a cleaner and protector on a regular basis will help to dissipate the ink and eventually it will not be so obvious.

Protecting your leather against ink and other spillages

Leather does not need ‘conditioning’ with oils and waxes or hide foods;  it needs cleaning and protecting on a regular basis with water based products this will keep it rehydrated and supple. Oils will make things much worse.

Using a good quality leather protector (one that works) like LTT Leather Protect will help make this problem easier to resolve should it happen again, it also does your leather good by protecting it against oils and dirt which ultimately make the pigment crack and the leather deteriorate.

If you would like a qualified technician to remove  ink for you then contact Leather Training & Technical who have an independent network of fully trained technicians who are able to do high quality repairs and restoration on all leathers.





ITEMS REQUIRED: LTT Ink Gel, LTT Leather Shampoo, LTT Leather Protect.


Ink should be tackled as soon as possible after it is discovered.


Clean the area gently with Leather Shampoo, this will remove excess ink from the surface.  Apply the Ink Gel gently over the ink mark.  When there is a reasonable build up of product gently massage it into the ink mark with your finger, as you see the ink dissolve into the product remove it with a paper towel and carefully examine the area.  If there is no evidence that the Ink Gel is removing colour from the area, repeat the above process just as gently using your fingernail to get product down into the grain.  This process can be repeated several times.  Once the ink stops fading it is time to stop, clean the area with Leather Shampoo and then treat with Leather Protector. 


If the above process has not satisfactorily removed the ink contact an LTT trained leather technician.



For Professional Leather Specialist techniques for ink removal please visit


© Judy Bass and The Leather Clinic 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to  Judy Bass and The Leather Clinic with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.