How to Remove Ink from Leather and Clothes

  • 01 of 05

    How to Remove Ink Stains from Leather and Clothes

    Fountain pen ink droplets
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    Pens leak. Ink stains leather and fabric and most everything it touches. But don't despair. Many ink stains can be removed if treated properly. You’ll have better luck salvaging your laundry if you catch the ink stains before putting the clothes into the dryer. Begin by checking each garment for stains. You may have multiple stains to treat.

    This article will take you through how to remove ball point ink, permanent ink and washable marker stains from fabric, as well as from leather. And for that...MORE pen that exploded in your washer or dryer drum, follow these tips to clean up your appliance after you get all that ink off your handbags, upholstery and clothes.

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  • 02 of 05

    How to Remove Ink from Leather Clothes, Handbags and Furniture

    LEATHER BOMBER JACKET ON WHITE
    White Packert / Getty Images

    Remove Ink Stains from Leather

    Before you attempt to remove ink from leather, first determine what kind of leather and what kind of ink are involved.

    Types of Leather

    • Smooth leather: test cleaning methods in an inconspicuous place and proceed with care. If your garment or accessory is very expensive and you will be devastated if you ruin it, take it to a professional cleaner.
    • Vinyl, pleather or...MORE faux leather: begin cleaning.

    Types of Ink

    • Ballpoint pen ink: proceed with cleaning method.
    • Felt tip marker: proceed with cleaning method.
    • Permanent ink or marker: consider having your garment dyed to match the stain or a darker shade. Permanent ink cannot be removed from leather without causing a great deal of damage to the garment. Professional dry cleaners or shoe repair shops can dye leather.

    Cleaning Method

    Isopropyl alcohol, plain old rubbing alcohol, works best for home removal of ink stains from leather. Fresh ink stains are easier to remove and usually come out easily, while older stains may require repeat treatments. Leather is porous and the stain can penetrate deep into the hide.

    Begin by dampening a white cotton cloth or cotton swab with the alcohol. Don’t use a colored cloth because it can transfer dye to light colored leather.

    Work from the outside of the stain toward the middle by dabbing with the cloth. Keep the work area small – do not spread the ink into a bigger area!

    You should be able to see the ink transfer to the cloth. Dampen a clean area of the cloth or get a new swab as you see ink coming off to prevent re-staining the garment. Gently, keep blotting away until the ink is gone. Do not scrub harshly as that can remove color and a layer of the leather.

    Allow the garment to air dry after or between treatments. Once the ink is removed, treat garment with leather conditioner to help it remain supple and smooth.

    You can also use commercial ink removers like Amodex Ink & Stain Remover or Ink B Gone.

    Old Wives’ Tales

    I know you’ve heard about using hairspray, dish detergent, laundry soap, mayonnaise and abrasive erasers to remove ink from leather. Yes, someone from somewhere has had success using these methods, but they can’t be recommended. Perhaps the best of the bunch is hairspray, which contains high alcohol content, but the other ingredients in the hairspray can cause staining and other problems. Only use it in an emergency on a fresh ink stain.

    The abrasive erasers will probably remove the ink but they’ll also remove a layer of the leather. So, you’ll need to decide if you want a stain or a hole.

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  • 03 of 05

    How to Remove Ball Point Ink Stains from Clothes

    Ball point ink
    Angel Herrero de Frutos/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Ball point pens are a staple in most homes and offices. And, they seldom leave as many stains as the old fountain pens and turkey quills. But, sometimes ink stains happen. So, how do you remove ballpoint ink stains from clothes?

    Begin by wetting a cotton swab with isopropyl or rubbing alcohol and test the fabric to be sure the alcohol does not damage or discolor the material. Test on an inside seam or hem. Working from the outside of the stain to the inside, dab the spot with the swab. Change to...MORE a new swab as ink is absorbed to keep from redistributing the ink.

    If traces of the ink remain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stain.

    If it is gone, wash as usual as directed on the label. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to remove the stain but it should come out. Just be patient!

    If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

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  • 04 of 05

    How to Remove Permanent Marker Stains from Clothes

    Getty Images

    A Sharpie or permanent ink marker is great when you want an autograph to last on your t-shirt. But, not when a random slash goes across your sleeve.

    Permanent ink is usually impossible to remove, especially from colored clothing. 

    First, wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and test the fabric to be sure the alcohol does not damage or discolor the material. Working from the outside of the stain to the inside, dab the spot with the swab. Change to a new swab as ink is absorbed to keep from...MORE redistributing the ink. Launder according to the fabric label directions.

    If traces of the ink remain, mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stain. If it is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat.

    If the ink just won't come out, consider dyeing the garment a dark color, putting an embellishment like a patch, ribbon or button over the stain, allow your child to create a new design with permanent markers for an individual look, or use the clothes as play or painting clothes.  

    If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

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  • 05 of 05

    How to Remove Washable Marker Ink from Clothes

    Washable marker
    Getty Images

    Some washable markers are not as washable as others. Some brands just don't wash away easily. Learn how to remove the stains.

    Wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and test the fabric to be sure the alcohol does not damage or discolor the material. Working from the outside of the stain to the inside, dab the spot with the swab. Change to a new swab as ink is absorbed to keep from redistributing the ink. Launder according to the fabric care label directions.

    If traces of the ink remain, mix a...MORE solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach or Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least eight hours.

    Check the stain. If it is gone, wash as usual. If it remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat.

    If the garment is dry clean only, point out and identify the stain to your professional cleaner. If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.