how to remove ink stains from leather bags

How to Remove Pen Marks & Ink Stains from Leather Bags

It’s simply frustrating to see your favorite leather bag stained with ink from uncapped or broken pens – whether it’s on the lining or the leather. Not only does this ruin the appearance of your favorite leather bag, but dried ink stains can also leave a permanent mark if they aren’t taken care of. 

If that’s what you’re dealing with, then this comprehensive guide will teach you how to remove ink stains and pen marks safely from your leather bag. We’ll share with you the four best methods and also best practices that will help you achieve optimal results. 

Cleaning Pen Marks & Ink Stains from the Interior Lining

The interior lining is the most vulnerable part of your leather bag, as it can easily be stained with ink stains due to uncapped or broken pens. It’s also one of the few components of your leather bag that isn’t commonly cleaned. 

The interior lining of leather bags is most commonly made of cotton, nylon, polyester, or leather itself. Therefore, it’s always best to treat ink stains based on the specific material. 

Although most cleaning solutions are safe to use on cotton, polyester, and nylon, you should be careful not to use harsh chemicals for cleaning ink marks from a  leather lining of a bag. 

In the following section, we’ll assume that the interior lining of your bag is made of either cotton, nylon, or polyester. Please proceed to the next steps if it’s made of leather. 

Method 1: Natural Soap

To clean ink stains from the interior lining of your leather bag, you can use any type of natural soap. For this, you’ll need the following:

  • Natural soap (such as marseille or saddle soap)
  • Water
  • White towel

If the lining of your leather bag cannot be unfastened or removed, you need to carefully hand-wash the lining of your bag with natural soap. Natural soap contains mild cleaning agents such as ash and nourishing oils that can be perfect for cleaning all types of linings.

It is best to create a concentrated soap solution since it can effectively clean and remove the ink stain. After turning out the lining of your leather bag, dampen a white towel in the soap solution and gently blot the ink stain. 

The white towel will prevent any transference of dyes onto the lining of the bag and help lift the ink off of it easily. Ensure to only dab the stain instead of rubbing it since it might cause the ink to smudge instead of removing it. Remember to dry the lining of your leather bag entirely before your next use. 

Method 2: Light Detergent

Another simple and convenient method to remove ink and pen stains from your leather bag’s lining is to use a light detergent. For this, you will need:

  • A light detergent
  • Water
  • Clean microfiber cloths

A light detergent can be a great way to clean any type of lining for your leather bag. After pulling out the inner lining of your leather bag or purse, you’ll need to dab a small amount of light detergent on the stain with a damp microfiber cloth. 

Blot the ink stain repeatedly with a clean wet cloth until the ink stain disappears completely. Let the lining of your leather purse or bag dry completely before your next use. 

Cleaning Pen Marks & Ink Stains from the Leather Exterior

The exterior of leather bags can also get stained with ink stains and pen marks if you aren’t careful with your stationery. Leather is a highly porous and sensitive material that can easily absorb ink. 

Contrary to cleaning the lining of your leather bag, cleaning the exterior requires more attention to detail since any mistakes can cause long-term damage to the leather material. Therefore, we encourage you to only use the four tried-and-tested methods mentioned below.

Method 1: Leather-Friendly Cleaner

To clean ink stains from your leather bag’s exterior using a leather-friendly cleaner, you will need the following:

  • A leather-friendly cleaner
  • Clean microfiber cloth

A leather-friendly cleaner is the best way to remove any accidental ink stains and spills from the exterior of your leather bag. These cleaners contain ingredients and formulas that are designed to be used on leather articles without damaging their quality and texture. 

You can choose your preferred type of leather cleaners, such as wipes, sprays, pens, or liquids. We recommend using wipes or liquid leather cleaners since they are most effective in cleaning ink from leather and offer the best control for cleaning.

Apply a small amount of leather cleaner on a small microfiber cloth and blot it on the ink stain. Then, gently dab on the stain to ensure the ink transfers from the leather onto the microfiber cloth. 

Repeat the process with fresh sections of the damp microfiber cloth until the stain is entirely removed from the leather exterior. 

Method 2: Saddle Soap

Saddle soap is a natural cleaning agent that can be perfect for cleaning dirt and other impurities, such as pen marks from leather. To do this, you’ll need:

  • Saddle soap
  • Clean microfiber cloth

Saddle soap works well on the leather since it contains nourishing ingredients like beeswax and lanolin. This makes saddles soap a great cleaner and conditioner for your leather bag. 

For this method, ensure to use a saddle soap that is free from lye. Lye is a caustic ingredient that can dry out leather. Therefore, if you decide to use a saddle soap with lye, ensure to use a leather conditioner afterward. 

To use saddle soap for cleaning ink stains, take a small amount of the product and gently rub the stain with it using a clean microfiber cloth. 

Ensure not to spread the ink stain to other clean parts of the bag as the saddle soap clears away the ink stain from the leather. Once the ink has been successfully removed, wipe the bag’s leather exterior and leave it to dry naturally.

Method 3: Vinegar & Olive Oil Solution

To clean ink stains from your leather bag’s exterior using vinegar and olive oil, you will need:

  • White vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean microfiber cloth

White vinegar is a mild natural cleaning agent that can effectively remove ink stains, but may also dry out your leather bag if you use it on its own. Therefore, it’s best to create a vinegar and olive oil solution. 

This natural and safe cleaning solution is perfect for white leather bags since it does not discolor the leather and also conditions it. To begin the process, put one part of vinegar (one-fourth cup) with two parts of olive oil (half cup) in a spray bottle. 

Spray the mixture on the ink-stained area and let it sit for a few minutes. Once you’ve done that, wipe away the vinegar and olive oil mixture using a clean, dry cloth. You can also use a microfiber cloth if you’re dealing with smaller ink stains. 

Repeat the process if some ink stains remain on the leather surface. Allow the leather bag to dry completely before using it the next time.  

Method 4: Magic Eraser

Cleaning ink stains from your leather bag’s exterior using a magic eraser is simple and straightforward. All you need is a magic eraser which is typically made of melamine.

This convenient cleaning method works best for dried ink stains and requires no mixing, measuring, or preparation. 

Start by lightly rubbing the magic eraser on the ink stain on your leather bag. Light pressure is recommended since it is an abrasive material that can harm the shiny surface of leather. 

Use slow and small strokes to clean the stain, and do not rub it outside the stained area. Once the ink is completely removed, it’s best to use a light conditioner to ensure that all parts of the leather are renourished.

Best Practices for Cleaning Pen Marks & Ink Stains from Leather Bags

When trying to remove ink stains and pen marks from your leather bag, it’s important that you keep the following aspects in mind, in order to achieve the best possible results.

  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals – Harsh chemicals such as acetone and laundry detergents can cause your leather bags to dry out and begin peeling. Always use leather-friendly cleaning agents such as a leather cleaner, saddle soap, vinegar, and oil solution to remove ink stains from your leather bag.
  • Always Cap Pens & Markers – Prevention is better than cure, so you should always cap your markers and pens before storing them safely inside your leather bag. You may also want to place your pens inside a stationery bag or pouch first, as this can prevent any accidental spillage from broken or uncapped pens inside of your leather bag.
  • Handle Your Leather Bag with Care – When you are carrying ink pens or markers in your leather bag, ensure to carry your bag carefully to avoid the risk of breaking or uncapping pens accidentally. This way, you can prevent unwanted ink stains.

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!