Whether it’s caused by a leaking pen that fell from your bag, or your children deciding that your leather couch, longe or sofa was the perfect canvas for their latest masterpiece, I’m sure we have all felt that sudden twinge of panic that comes from seeing an ink stain on our leather furniture.
The idea of removing pen ink from your favorite furniture can be a nightmare, but it doesn’t have to be. We are confident this article will give you everything you need to get your couch, lounge or sofa clean and ink-free.
How To Get Ink Off Of A Leather Couch, Sofa Or Lounge.
Before you spend a fortune on a professional to come out to treat the stain, we have compiled our tried and tested methods for dealing with nasty stains on your leather furniture.
Keep in mind – removing ink from a leather couch can be a very tough task depending on a number of things, so even if you try everything on this list, you may still need to call in the professionals to get your leather couch looking as good as new.
Like with all stains, treatment works best when the stain is fresh, so act as soon as the stain occurs and you will have the best chance at avoiding disaster.
These methods for removing ink stains from leather will work on any of your leather products, from the couch, lounge or sofa to the upholstery in your car, your handbag or your favorite pair of boots.
So, the next time your best biro explodes in your pocket or your mini Picasso expresses their artistic intent on your beautiful leather couch, simply follow these instructions and get rid of the ink stains before they ruin your furniture!
Things To Consider Before Attempting To Clean The Ink Stain:
As with cleaning any type of fabric or furniture, your first step must always be to find your cleaning code. This will inform you as to what cleaning methods you are able to use on your select piece without damaging it.
The most common codes you will come across include cleaning codes S, W, WS & X, but there are a number of others out there that all command very specific cleaners. It is usually located on a small tag or on the underside of a cushion, however, if you can’t find it or are ever unsure of how to proceed, call the manufacturer or a professional cleaning company first.
Using the wrong cleaning substance on your couch, lounge or sofa’s material can lead to devastating results!
Get To Know Your Leather – Is it Finished or Naked?
There are a number of different types of leather available nowadays, but the main two types of leather you will come across on a couch are naked (or unfinished) leather and finished leather.
Knowing your leather type is important as it will determine how successful your stain removal attempt will be.
Unfinished leather is beautiful and super soft to the touch, but also porous and therefore extremely absorbent.
Cleaning naked leather furniture is similar to cleaning a suede couch, but not a direct comparison. An ink stain on naked leather will often have to be treated by a professional.
The easiest way to tell which type of leather you have, simply to apply a single drop of water on the surface.
If it beads and rolls off, congratulations, your leather is finished and you can move on to the next stage. If it soaks in, you have naked leather and you’ll need to call in some help.
Test The Cleaning Solution
Once you have determined your leather type and chosen the most appropriate cleaning solution, before you begin to clean the ink you should test a small amount on an inconspicuous part of your leather to check to make sure it isn’t going to damage your leather further.
This is called a spot test or a spot clean.
If it is a couch, sofa or lounge suite you are cleaning, the underside of the cushions is a good spot.
Simply apply a small amount of the leather cleaner, leave it to sit for a few moments, and check for any signs of damage or discoloration.
Read The Instructions For Your Leather Carefully
Before attempting any of the remedies in this article, make sure to carefully read any care instructions for your leather products.
This relates to checking the cleaning codes as we’ve mentioned above, but also look for any other specifics from the manufacturer.
As an example, your leather may have a specific coating that will react poorly to some cleaners and the last thing you want is to cause more damage.
7 DIY Cleaning Options For Removing Pen & Ink Stains
The methods below can work wonders – just remember the option you choose will depend on what cleaners you can safely use on your couch.
1.) Removing Ink Stains From Leather With Soap and Water
The simple soap and water method can be excellent but it is most effective when the stain is quite fresh.
Simply take a clean, damp cloth and rub it over your soap until a lather forms.
Saddle soap is designed specifically for cleaning, conditioning and protecting leather. It’s inexpensive so it is worth keeping on hand if you have any leather furniture.
Gently rub the ink stain in a circular motion, taking care not to scrub too heavily. Rinse and repeat until the stain has gone, and blot dry with paper towels.
2.) Removing An Ink Stain With Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol can be very effective at removing stains on leather, however, the isopropyl alcohol can be harsh and isn’t suitable at all for certain types of leather. Always test rubbing alcohol on a spot on the underside of a cushion, where any potential damage would not be noticed.
Never pour rubbing alcohol directly onto your leather furniture, apply it to a cotton swab or Q-tip before dabbing it onto the ink stain. The stain should start to lift and soak into the cotton. When you are finished, dry the area thoroughly. A hairdryer is a good option if you have one.
Cleaning stained leather with rubbing alcohol should always be followed by a leather conditioner to help moisturize and protect your leather.
3.) Remove Ink From Leather With Hairspray Or Nail Polish Remover
Hairspray is a good alternative to rubbing alcohol, as Isopropyl Alcohol is often one of the main ingredients used in hairspray.
Since hairspray is more diluted, you can spray directly onto the stained area lightly, let it work for a few minutes and wipe it off with a clean damp cloth. Just make sure you check the other ingredients of the hairspray against your cleaning code before applying.
If the stain persists after this, spray the stain again and try working at it gently with a cotton swab. You should see the pigment start to lift from the leather and soak into the cotton.
Nail polish remover works in a similar way to hairspray when it comes to removing ink from leather. Always condition your leather after cleaning with either of these substances as they can be quite harsh.
4.) Remove Ink Stains From Leather With Ink Sticks
Ink sticks are often what the professionals use when trying to remove ink from leather.
While ink sticks are one of the more expensive options to get ink out of your leather, they are designed specifically for the job and they work extremely well.
They are simple to use – just follow the instructions on the packet carefully and you should achieve great results.
5.) Remove Ink Stains On Leather With A Magic Eraser
A magic eraser should be a staple in your cleaning collection. There are not many stains that they can’t help with.
The secret to their magic is that they are made from melamine foam, an extremely hard material that acts like very fine sandpaper.
It is these abrasive qualities that make it useful for dealing with stubborn stains on a variety of surfaces. All you need to do is dip the magic eraser in water and rub the stain gently until it clears.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it is important to test the magic eraser on a subtle area of your leather furniture. Some leather has a protective coating on it which may be damaged by the abrasive nature of the melamine foam.
6.) Remove Ink From Leather With Homemade Cleaning Solutions
If you notice an ink stain on your leather couch and don’t happen to have any of the above cleaning products on hand, you can always whip up a quick homemade cleaner using common ingredients from the pantry.
These are much gentler than solvent cleaners but can be just as damaging if used on the wrong type of leather, so always double-check and spot test first.
Generally speaking, these are some great homemade DIY cleaners that can lift many ink stains:
- a 2:1 solution of olive oil and white vinegar
- equal parts of cream of tartar and lemon juice together to make a paste
- equal parts white vinegar, baking soda and warm water in a spray bottle
- equal parts vinegar and baking soda to make a paste
Apply the appropriate cleaner to the surface, ensuring that you cover the entire stain. Let sit for a few minutes before wiping away with a clean, damp cloth or paper towel.
Repeat as necessary until the stain is lifted.
7.) Remove Ink From Leather With A Commercial Leather Cleaner
If all else fails or just doesn’t suit your furniture – there are countless purpose-made commercial leather cleaning products on the market for all types of leather colors and finishes.
They can be expensive but are purpose-made for stain removal.
Make sure you chose the appropriate one for your particular type of leather and follow the method on the label carefully and rigorously.
Here’s a handy video from the crew over at Detail King showing how they remove ink stains from leather. They focus on automotive leather but the products and principles are the same as for your lounge room furniture.
Last But Definitely Not Least – Leather Conditioning And Protection
Once you have been successful at removing the ink stain, make sure you treat your leather with a high-quality leather conditioner.
This will restore moisture and softness to your leather while providing a protective coating to prevent stains in the future.
Whether you’re removing a stain or not, leather conditioner should be applied to your couch on a regular basis.
If All Else Fails – Don’t Hesitate To Call The Professionals!
If you have tried everything listed above, can’t find the proper cleaning instructions you need or are simply not willing to risk damaging your furniture, then it’s probably time to call in some professional help.
Professional leather cleaners will have access to stronger and more effective cleaning solutions, and will also be able to re-dye your leather if needed.
Not to mention they will be insured and very experienced!
There We Have It!
Ink is undoubtedly one of the worst stains to ever hit a leather couch, sofa or lounge suite – but if you find that your pen has leaked or your child has been a bit enthusiastic with their coloring book, not all is lost.
As you can see, there are many different methods you can use to attack a nasty ink stain – just remember to act quickly and double-check your cleaning specifications so you don’t accidentally cause more damage!
We hope this article has helped you restore your beloved leather furniture to its former glory and remember, if ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals. You may actually save yourself a lot of money and stress in the long run!