How to Remove Pen Marks from Leather? – 3 Simple DIY Cleaning Methods You Can Apply Anywhere!

by Stephanie Yankova

Pen marks are one of the easiest and most annoying ones you can get on your leather goods! I remember when I used to carry ballpoint pens in my bag back in the day, there wasn’t a single leather purse I hadn’t tagged with a scribbly ink line. You accidentally drop your pen on the couch or chair while taking notes and BAM – ink stain! The most straightforward thing to do is grab a wet wipe and just wipe it off, correct? WRONG! It simply So how do we deal with these irritating stains? Well, I’ve got just the hacks! Here’s how to remove pen marks from leather without a single trace of ink! 

remove pen marks from leather sofa bag furniture ink stains homemade remedies

Can Pen Marks Come Off Leather?

Removing pen marks from leather goods can be difficult depending on the type of leather, however, it’s not impossible! There are plenty of methods you can apply to clean ink stains – you can easily make your own at-home remedy, or use a store-bought cleaning product. Either way, the most important thing is to treat the stained area as quickly as possible! The longer you leave the ink mark untreated, the higher the chance of damaging the leather in the cleaning process.

Read also: How to Clean a Leather Sofa without Damaging It? Grandma’s Tips and Tricks

How to Remove Pen Marks from Leather?

cleaning burgundy leather sofa ink stains pen marks homemade remedies


Pen marks, just like most stains, occur unexpectedly and when you need to act fast homemade cleaning remedies tend to be the best solution. But what if we get the stain outside our home? Don’t panic! The following leather cleaning hacks can be applied anywhere at any time!

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Use Hair Spray

This is a super simple and clever method that I actually learned from my grandma. Ever since I’ve known her she’s always carried a small bottle of hair spray in her bag. One time when we were out and about I carelessly stained my leather skirt with ballpoint pen ink, and she immediately whipped out the hair spray! Yes, to my disbelief the hair spray made the pen mark go away! All she did was:

  • Use a paper towel to absorb any remaining fresh ink from the leather.
  • Spray the stained spot with hairspray.
  • Let it sit for 5–10 minutes.
  • Wipe it off with a clean paper towel.

Use Perfume

Another shocking, although quite self-explanatory, method for removing pen stains from leather is with perfume. Note that it MUST be an alcohol-based perfume, otherwise, it won’t work. Due to the fact that ink and alcohol have a similar chemical structure when mixed together, one dissolves the other. This technique is applied the same way as the hairspray method.

  • Spray the perfume onto the ink-stained area.
  • Use a paper towel to rub the perfume gently into the affected area.
  • The ink should begin to lift off immediately.

Make a Dish Soap Solution

This is one of the most effective methods for cleaning pen marks from leather. If you have dish soap at your disposal at the time of getting the ink mark on your leather goods, I highly suggest you opt for this cleaning technique. Here’s how you make and apply the dish soap solution:


  • dish soap
  • water
  • paper towel or washcloth
  • a cotton bud
  • rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (acetone-free)


  • Pour water into a small bowl.
  • Add a few drops of dish soap and mix together until you get a homogenous concoction.
  • Take the paper towel or washcloth and apply the mixture to the stained area.
  • Rub gently until you see the mark lifting off the leather.
  • Wipe off the soap solution off the treated surface with a clean paper towel.
  • If the stain is old, and you can still see some ink residue, reach for the rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover.
  • Dip the cotton bud into the alcohol product of choice and then use it to gently remove any remaining ink stains.

Note: Do NOT use an acetone-based nail polish remover. It will damage the leather and lift off its color.

Read also: How to Remove Scuff Marks From Leather Shoes? – Expert Hack for Flawless Results!

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