How To Remove Ink From A Leather Sofa

How To Remove Ink From A Leather Sofa

28th Feb 2020

Posted by Laura Rich on 28th Feb 2020

How to remove biro from a leather sofa.

Getting biro or ink out of a leather sofa is not easy but if you can’t hire a professional cleaner or don’t have any commercial grade leather cleaner handy, there are a few things you can try at home. Discover the best ways to remove pen or paint from a leather sofa below.

  1. Clean as soon as possible – the longer you leave it the harder it’ll be to remove! As with cleaning any sofa, refer to the tag attached to your leather sofa for specific cleaning instructions. Contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure about any of the methods listed here.
  2. First use a dry paper towel or tissues to dab the stain – trying not to spread the mark. Then apply a small amount of moisturising liquid soap and water. Rub gently with a soft cloth working from the edge of the mark into the middle so as not to spread the stain.
  3. Take a cotton wool ball or a soft cloth and apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol. If you've not heard of it before, rubbing alcohol is a versatile cleaning product. It is a powerful disinfectant, and its bacteria-killing properties make it a great natural surface cleaner. You may see it called isopropanol, IPA, surgical spirit, or cleaning alcohol. Rub the stained area with the alcohol cotton ball in a circular motion, repeat with another cotton ball if needed. We recommend testing an inconspicuous area on the sofa first and applying a leather conditioner to the area after cleaning as alcohol can cause the leather to dry out.
  4. Finally wash the area with a damp soft cloth to remove any alcohol residue.

If you don’t have any rubbing alcohol, you may find that your hairspray has a relatively high level of isopropanol in it (check the ingredients list). If so, spray the ink mark and allow it to sink in for a few minutes, then rinse the spot with cool water. Apply a dry paper towel or tissues, dabbing away any excess moisture and hairspray residue. Never use a hot hairdryer on leather. Again, test on a hidden area of the sofa first as, be warned, you may find that it lifts the colour of the leather as well as the stain!

A bottle of rubbing alcohol that is used to remove biro from a leather sofa
Rubbing alcohol

Homemade Remedies

For white leather, try ¼ cup vinegar to ½ cup olive oil. Mix together into a spray bottle. Spray the affected area and allow to soak in for 5 – 10 mins before wiping with a damp cloth.

If your sofa is not white leather, you could try a mix of 1 part lemon juice and 1 part cream of tartar as a homemade leather cleaner. Mix the ingredients into a paste, apply to the ink spot using a microfibre cloth, let it sit for an hour or so if the stain doesn’t lift with the first application.

How To Remove Paint From Leather

The first thing to try and ascertain when cleaning paint from a leather sofa or chair is whether the paint is water or oil-based. A water-based paint, might lift off with a damp cloth or in any case a damp cloth will soften the paint enough to scrape it off gently with a credit card or the edge of a spoon. Pat dry with a paper towel once removed.

If water has no effect, it might be an oil-based paint so to clean it will require an oil-based product. Try baby oil or cooking oil on a cotton wool ball. Keep the oil to just the paint mark; avoid allowing it to soak into the leather around the mark if at all possible. Remove any excess oil with a paper towel. Once the paint mark is gone, clean the area again with a soapy cloth and pat dry with paper towel or a soft cloth.

Another method to try is to apply a small amount of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) to the paint mark then take a damp toothbrush or nail brush and work into the stain gently. Wipe away the excess with a damp cloth then pat dry with paper towel.

For more stubborn paint marks – you could try rubbing alcohol using the instructions above for removing pen. Be aware that alcohol can have a drying effect on leather so use a leather conditioner as soon after cleaning as possible.

Leather Sofa Cleaning Advice

We advise testing these methods on a small inconspicuous area of the leather before attempting to clean the mark. Alcohol can cause the leather to dry out and it’s also possible it will lift the colour.

Leather is a natural product which has the benefit of being durable, flexible, comfortable and strong, with the downside being that it needs a little TLC to keep it looking in top condition.

Maintaining And Protecting Your Leather Sofa

It’s not always easy to avoid food or drink spills or accidental stains such as ink and paint but there are a few things you can do to help protect your leather sofa.

  1. Use a good leather conditioner once or twice a year to provide a protective layer against possible spills and marks
  2. Clean your sofa regularly with the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
  3. Avoid using damaging substances such as nail polish on or near your sofa.
  4. Keep your sofa away from a heater and out of direct sunlight to avoid discolouration of the leather.
  5. Clean spills immediately.

An Alternative To Leather

If you like the look of leather but are worried about keeping it clean (or you prefer not to use a animal-based product) you could consider faux leather as a finish to your furniture. It is generally much easier to clean than real leather – on the whole, warm soapy water will clean most marks.

The Corona faux leather chair in grey
Corona Faux Leather Chair