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How to Remove Ink from Leather

Richard Taylor

Richard Taylor

Fine leather bags, document cases, wallets and the suchlike need to be taken care of in order to keep them in pristine condition, and this requires some insider know-how and a few tricks of the trade. In particular, knowing how to remove ink from leather is a key skill for the gentleman in possession of fine leather accessories, as most will find that ink stains are the one of the most common problems to affect your quality leather items.

It has often been said that no man should be without a good quality fountain pen – they’re a fundamental weapon in your personal business arsenal. However, they present a problem; unlike lesser types of pens, they do have a tendency to leak and run, and the ink stains they can blight your leather accessories with can be notoriously tough to remove.

All too many gentlemen struggle when trying to figure out how to remove pen ink from leather. Occasionally, they’ll rush into the process and start scrubbing away at their accessory as someone might do after spilling red wine on the floor.

The problem with this is that fine leather requires an expert touch, and by approaching this issue without the correct knowledge, you might end up damaging your beloved leather item.

What types of items are susceptible to ink stains?

While almost any item is likely and able to be stained by ink at some point or another, certain items are more at risk than others.

Naturally, accessories which are used in conjunction with written documents are perhaps those which one must be most cautious around. The Marlborough of England document cases, for example, while undoubtedly beautiful and high quality items, are perhaps the most susceptible to this kind of stain.

It’s not alone in this regard, though. Every high-flying office desk deserves a Marlborough of England black leather stationary rack… but all of those monogrammed pens and ink cartridges present a constant risk of staining. If you’re in possession of either of these elegant items – or any other finished leather accessory – knowing how to remove ink stains is a key skill for the modern gentleman.

Why are Ink Stains so Tricky to Remove?

We all know the sinking feeling we get when we notice that one of our precious leather items is marred by a dark ink stain. However, by looking at a few key steps, and by considering some important factors, we can find out how to remove ink stains from leather and keep everything looking good as new.

Determine whether your item is made from unfinished or finished leather

This first step is fundamental when learning how to remove pen ink stains from leather accessories. If the leather you’ve stained is unfinished, it will be highly absorbent and very difficult to clean.

Pour a couple of drops of water onto your item. If the leather absorbs the water, this means it is made from ‘naked’ or unfinished leather, and you’ll be in need of professional help to remove the ink stain. Head down to your local dry-cleaner, and ask for an expert ink-removal service.

However, if the water beads up or slides right off the leather, this means it is a finished item and the remaining information in this article will be relevant for you.

Five Essential Tips For Removing Ink Stains From Leather

1. Be quick

Old ink stains on leather are incredibly difficult to remove yourself, and you’ll almost have no choice other than to seek professional assistance. If the stain is very fresh, use blotting paper to remove most of the ink from the surface of the leather.

2. Try wiping with a soap-based cleanser

Solvent-based cleansers are generally too harsh for your fine leather accessory, so when looking into how to remove pen ink stains from leather items, it’s best to stick to gentler soap-based products. Wipe your stained item with a cloth dampened in the cleanser, and remember to wipe in the direction of the grain (if there is a visible grain).

3. Seek out an ink stick made for leather

If you were to ask a professional dry cleaner how to remove ink stains from leather, they’d tell you to seek out the same kind of ink sticks they use in their profession. They might not be cheap, but they’re certainly more affordable than replacing your precious leather accessory.

4. Give saddle soap a try

Saddle soaps are used in the equestrian industry to both clean and protect high quality leather goods. These feature a range gentle cleansers – such as lanolin and glycerin – and might be helpful in this situation.

5. Try applying some hairspray

It might sound unlikely, but several people in similar predicaments have sworn by the use of hairspray when removing ink stains from leather. According to them, all you have to do is douse a cotton bud in the hairspray, and then quickly (before it evaporates) rub the affected spot with it. Once thoroughly wiped, a leather cleaner and conditioner will have to be applied. Repeat if necessary.

Spraying aerosol on black background

How to Remove Ink Stains From Leather – It’s Over to You!

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and have found some useful tips for if and when you find your leather items stained with ink.

object on black - write tool ball pen

At Marlborough of England, we produce the kind of high quality leather goods and accessories you’ll absolutely want to take the best possible care of. Intended to last a lifetime and be passed down to the next generation, they’re the result of expert craftsmanship, and a true passion for traditional leatherworking.

Now, it’s over to you – we’d love to hear your tips and ideas for cleaning leather, and your suggestions for how to remove pen ink from leather. Let us know in the comments below!