Back when I was working in the corporate side of fashion, I had a little accident. An intern accidentally dropped some ink on my Schott leather jacket. She was pretty apologetic and offered to clean up the mess.
And it was at this moment that both of us realized something – It’s pretty difficult to get pen ink out of leather.
Difficult – yes. Impossible – no.
Therefore, I will be sharing with you a step-by-step method you can employ to get rid of the pen marks on your leather jacket, along with a few tips and tricks to help you along the way.
All of this information is based on my firsthand experience with this sort of situation.
How To Get Ink Out Of Leather Jacket?
There are numerous ways to get rid of ink stains from leather jackets. Depending on the make of your jacket, some of these might work better for certain jackets and not so much for other types of jackets.
So I would recommend you to try each of these methods until the pen marks from your jacket are completely gone.
1. Use a nail polish remover (acetone)
The best way to remove pen stains from your leather jacket is through the use of a nail polish remover, which is often referred to as acetone.
Acetone is a strong material that can remove any mark or stain from leather. But be careful with the quantity that you use, because too much acetone can actually peel the color off of leather.
Just dip a cotton swab in a nail polish remover bottle, and slowly rub it on the affected areas on your leather jacket. Don’t apply too much pressure. After 2-3 minutes of rubbing, wipe it off using a microfiber cloth. You would see that the ink stains are gone.
Once the jacket is completely stain-free, it is important to condition it again. Acetone can dry leather, which will reduce the life of your jacket. We want to avoid that by using a quality leather conditioner.
2. Apply rubbing alcohol to the affected area
Alcohol is an amazing substance to get rid of stains and marks from your leather clothing. It has natural properties that allow it to be a great tool for cleaning leather.
And the best kind of alcohol for removing pen marks is rubbing alcohol.
Rubbing alcohol can be strong, so we would need to dilute it. Just mix it with some soapy water so that a solution is created that is equal parts rubbing and equal parts soap water.
Dip a cotton swab in this solution and rub it on the affected areas. After some time, you will notice that the ink stains are completely gone from your jacket. Dry the entire jacket and then condition it to add the finishing touches.
3. Use hairspray to remove ballpoint pen marks
One of the best ways to remove ink stains from your leather jacket is to use hairspray. Most hairsprays contain alcohol, which makes cleaning leather a breeze.
But the selection of hairspray also plays an important role here. Please don’t go for high-end brands or boutique products because they’ll probably not contain alcohol. Instead, opt for drugstore brands such as Axe because their hairsprays contain a large amount of alcohol.
Hairsprays are especially ideal when it comes to removing ballpoint pen marks from your leather jacket. Just spray a little over the ink stains and let the solution sit for a couple of minutes. Wipe it away with a microfiber cloth.
You will notice that the pen marks are completely gone and your jacket looks brand new again.
4. Go for alternate solutions that cover the stains
If the stains are still not gone from your jacket, then maybe it is time to think about other kinds of solutions.
There are a number of tricks that you can use to mask the presence of ink marks on your jacket. The three best methods are as follows:
- If the pen marks are in a location where a patch makes sense (such as arms, chest, etc.) then you can just paste or stitch a patch over them. There are many cool patches for leather jackets, and you can find some on platforms such as Etsy.
- If the ink stains are along the zipper portion of the jacket, you can probably cover them by adding buttons.
- If it is anywhere else, then you can probably get away by dyeing your leather jacket with a darker color. This will help in preventing the pen marks from being noticeable.
5. Take it to an expert leather worker
If all else fails, and you still want to remove ink spots from your leather jacket, then it is time to take it to a professional.
All major cities have a few professional leather workers. Find out the location of these shops and take your leather jacket to them. Clearly communicate about what stains you want to be removed, and these guys will do it for you.
The only major con of this method is that going to a professional costs money. And depending on the stain, it can take anywhere from $10-100 to get rid of the pen marks from your leather jacket.
Can Vinegar Remove Ink from Leather Jackets?
Vinegar can be an effective household tool to remove ink from leather jackets, but it dries out the leather very quickly, and using it can lead to cracking and peeling.
While vinegar is known for its cleaning properties, I still don’t recommend it as a solution for getting pen marks out of leather. The cons just outweigh the pros in this case.
Let me explain.
Leather is not like cotton or any other plant-based fabric. It is made from animal hide, the actual skin of an animal. And just like our skin, animal hide also needs regular moisture in order to prevent cracking and sun damage.
Using vinegar on leather can strip it of its moisture and make the leather overtly dry and brittle. This can lead to cracks, fading, discoloration, and other unwanted side effects.
In fact, if leather is not conditioned properly after treatment with vinegar, it can reduce the lifespan of the jacket by a few years.
Thus it is much better to not use vinegar to remove stains from your leather jacket. Instead, go with any of the 5 methods mentioned in the previous section.
How to Remove Ink from Leather Shoes?
The leather that is used to make shoes is a lot tougher and stiffer than the leather used for making jackets and outerwear. Therefore, all the methods that help in removing ink from leather jackets might not work equally well with footwear.
In fact, there’s only one method that works when it comes to removing pen stains and ink from leather shoes – acetone.
Apply some acetone to the ink stains on your shoes with the help of a cotton swab. Let it sit on the leather for a few minutes, and then wipe it away using a microfiber cloth. Doing so would get rid of all the ink and pen stains on your leather shoes.
Acetone is usually the main ingredient of nail polish removers, so if you have a nail polish remover at home, that can also do the trick.
The other methods that work with leather jackets do not tend to work on boots because the thickness and structure of the leather in boots is a lot different when compared to jackets.
There are numerous ways to remove pen marks from leather jackets. Here’s a small list that you can use for reference:
- Use a nail polish remover (or acetone).
- Apply rubbing alcohol to the affected area.
- Use a hairspray to remove ballpoint pen marks.
- Go for alternate solutions that cover the stain.
- Take it to a leather expert.
My name is Alex Higson and I am the founder of Magic Of Clothes. I have worked in the fashion industry for many years, and clothes and style are a huge part of my life.