You are currently viewing You Can Rescue Ink Stained Leather with these Safe Hacks

This post provides a step-by-step tutorial how to remove an ink stain from leather in a safe way.


  1. An Ink Stain Must Not Ruin a Favorite Bag
  2. How to Remove an Ink Stain from Leather
    • Always Make a Test First at a Hidden Place
    • What You Need to Rescue the Spoiled Hide
    • Step-by-step Directions How to Remove an Ink Stain from Leather
  3. Stain and Ink Streak Removal from Suede


Updated: 3/13/2022

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.


An Ink Stain Must not Ruin a Favorite Bag

The other day, I saw a colleague with a beautiful leather designer bag. I complimented her on her bag and her face turned to an sad expression. She turned her bag around and showed me an ink stain. She told me how the bag was stained. At a conference, someone’s pen fell down with its tip downside onto the bag. While sliding down the bag, it left an half an inch long line. “Do you have an idea how to get rid of the stain” was her next question.

Read how to remove an ink stain from leather. #stainremoval Click To Tweet


How to Remove an Ink Stain from Leather

An ink stain on a leather item is no reason to toss it. When your stain is small like the one described above you may have a chance to save your leather item. Of course, results depend on the type of ink, and the age of the stain. In other words, the following methods may remove or lighten the stain. But when the other alternative would be to toss the leather item, it is better to try saving it first, and give stain removal a try when you cannot afford a professional cleaning. Or when professional cleaning would be more expensive than buying a new bag. Often it is even impossible to find a professional cleaning service.


Always Make a Test First at a Hidden Place

No matter which of the stain removal methods you try always perform a “color safety test” on a part of the leather that is relatively hidden. This test allows you to see whether the removal liquid will not cause an even larger damage than the stain is already. Just rub a cotton ball with the liquid you want to use onto a small portion of the leather. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so. In principle, you shouldn’t find any problems. However, it’s always best to test than being sorry.


What You Need to Rescue the Spoiled Hide

You need

  • Hair spray or pure alcohol,
  • A clean bloat sheet,
  • A cotton ball, and
  • 10 minutes uninterrupted time.


Step-by-step Directions how to Remove an Ink Stain from Leather

  1. Spray hairspray on the ink spot. Wait for about a minute, but ensure that the hair spray doesn’t dry. Patch the ink-hair spray mix with a clean bloat sheet.
  2. If hairspray doesn’t do the trick, try to remove the spot by rubbing it with alcohol.
  3. When the ink is visible from both sides of the leather item, it penetrated deep into the leather. In this case, try to remove/lighten the spot with colorless nail polish remover.
  4. Deep settled ink stains may also be removed/lifted with aerosol brake parts cleaner.
  5. Moisten a cotton ball with alcohol and rub the alcohol onto the ink stain. Perform a circular motion without imposing pressure or scrubbing. When it works you should see quickly that the ink stain starts disappearing. Make sure not to spread the ink remover mix to adjacent areas. When the spot is small, use a Q-tip instead of a cotton ball.
  6. Once the spot disappeared, and apply a small drop of leather conditioner to the cleaned area to restore the moisture and shine of the leather. Often conditioning the entire bag is best.

Extra tip: When an ink stain is on your leather couch, you may apply a white eraser on the stain (e.g. White Magic Eraser).

Does the spot also show on the lining inside your bag? If so, you can read how to remove ball pen ink from fabric in this post.


Stain and Ink Streak Removal from Suede

The suede skirt in the look of the day was a second-hand find with a $20 price tag. Obviously, a pen had touched the skirt when it fell. The previous owner had sold it because she couldn’t find a dry cleaner in town who would clean it. To my best knowledge there is still none in town who cleans suede. They are afraid of color changes. Even when you offer that you sign a waiver not to make them responsible for any color changes, they won’t clean it.


influencer wearing a suede leather skirt that was stained with ink
Front view of outfit with cleaned suede skirt


details of silk printed scarf, pendant and studded bangle
Details of outfit


style blogger in casual work outfit with red skirt and blue sweater
Outfit details: Anne Klein oblong scarf, GNW Luxe long-sleeves sweater, G-III suede straight skirt, GNW tights, Hermes collier de chien bangle, pendant necklace, gemstone studs and Manolo Blahnik buckle booties



Using a plastic brush and conditioning spray, I cleaned the skirt meanwhile twice. This method also removed the short ball pen ink mark. When a brush fails to work, use sandpaper. It’s amazing that this little trick helped me to recycle this skirt in various looks.

Important note: It’s hopeless that one of these methods works when the stain shows on both sides of the suede.


Are you registered for my email reminders to let you know when a post goes live? I’d certainly love it if you take the time to sign up.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2022 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved