How to Clean Pen off Leather Like a Pro

A leather couch with a pen mark on it

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Leather is a durable and flexible material created by tanning animal rawhide and skins. It is used to make various goods, including clothing, footwear, furniture, and accessories. However, despite its durability, leather can be prone to stains, especially from ink pens. Whether it’s a leather jacket, a purse, or a couch, ink stains can be a nightmare. But don’t worry, with the right tools and techniques, you can remove pen marks from your leather goods like a pro. Let’s delve into the process.

Understanding the Type of Leather

Before you start the cleaning process, it’s crucial to understand the type of leather you’re dealing with. Different types of leather require different cleaning methods. Generally, leather is categorized into two types: finished and unfinished.

Finished leather has a protective coating that makes it more resistant to stains and damage. On the other hand, unfinished leather lacks this protective coating, making it more susceptible to stains. You can determine the type of leather by dropping a small amount of water on it. If the water beads up, it’s finished leather. If it soaks in, it’s unfinished leather.

Materials You Will Need

Before you start the cleaning process, gather all the necessary materials. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Leather cleaner or mild soap
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Leather conditioner
  • Alcohol or nail polish remover (for stubborn stains)
  • Cotton swabs

Remember, always test any cleaning solution on a small, hidden area of the leather before applying it to the stain. This will help you avoid any potential damage to the leather.

Steps to Clean Pen off Leather

Step 1: Initial Cleaning

Start by cleaning the leather to remove any surface dirt or grime. This will make the stain removal process more effective. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with water.
  2. Apply a small amount of leather cleaner or mild soap to the cloth.
  3. Gently clean the leather, focusing on the stained area.
  4. Wipe off the soap with a clean, damp cloth.
  5. Let the leather dry naturally.

Step 2: Stain Removal

Once the leather is clean and dry, you can proceed to the stain removal process. Here’s how:

  1. Apply a small amount of alcohol or nail polish remover to a cotton swab.
  2. Gently dab the stained area with the cotton swab. Be careful not to rub, as this can spread the stain.
  3. Continue dabbing until the stain is gone. You may need to use multiple cotton swabs.
  4. Once the stain is removed, wipe the area with a clean, damp cloth to remove any residue.
  5. Let the leather dry naturally.

Step 3: Conditioning

After removing the stain, it’s important to condition the leather to restore its natural oils and keep it soft and supple. Here’s how:

  1. Apply a small amount of leather conditioner to a soft cloth.
  2. Gently rub the conditioner into the leather, focusing on the previously stained area.
  3. Let the conditioner soak in for a few minutes, then wipe off any excess with a clean cloth.
  4. Let the leather dry naturally.

Preventing Future Stains

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to help you prevent future ink stains on your leather goods:

  • Keep pens and other ink sources away from your leather goods.
  • Regularly clean and condition your leather to keep it in top condition.
  • Consider using a leather protector to provide an extra layer of protection against stains.

By following these tips, you can keep your leather looking its best and extend its lifespan.


Cleaning pen off leather may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and techniques, it’s entirely doable. Remember, the key is to act quickly to prevent the ink from setting into the leather. With patience and care, you can restore your leather goods to their former glory. So, don’t let a little ink stain ruin your favorite leather item. Roll up your sleeves and get cleaning!

Become a Leather Cleaning Pro

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