Removing Pen Ink From Leather

Removing pen inks from leather is very tricky as most upholstery companies use leather that has an upper darker dye that is an ink. In some cases the pen ink actually bonds to the upper dyes of the leather which makes removal of the pen ink impossible without removing the surface dyes of the leather. Even in cases where the pen ink did not bond, the challenge is to remove the problem without damaging the finish, as most solvents used to remove pen ink will also remove the top colour of the leather. This includes the home remedies of hairspray, nail polish remover or many other strong cleaners. There is also the additional problem of the fact that there are at least ten pen inks that have no solvent available.

You can usually have the pen ink stripped out and the area re-dyed but that can be expensive depending on the type of leather and the finish used. Some leathers are actually nine layers of colour put down on top of each other. Many brown leathers have no brown on them.

The best way to try and remove it yourself is to be very patient and do numerous cleaning and conditioning over a period of time. It could take up to six months to get some of the more stubborn inks out. Some pen inks will come out with only a few cleanings. The best case is that you get to it before the pen ink sets but the following method will help even on older pen marks.

On finished leathers put a small amount of the Lexol conditioner on the pen mark and allow to sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Sometimes massaging the area (no scratching) helps lift the ink. Then wash off the conditioner with the Lexol cleaner and re-apply a thin layer of conditioner that you leave on the leather. In a day or two repeat the above procedures and follow that with weekly cleanings until the ink has lifted. This works in many cases as the inks used in pens is of poor quality and will slowly lift as well as fade. Do not scrub as you will remove the surface dyes on the leather. If this does not work your only recourse is to have the area re-dyed.