How to Get Ink Marks Out of Leather

by James Rutter

The leather covering your car's seats is a very porous material that absorbs liquids such as ink very quickly. When ink hits a leather surface, it soaks into the leather in the same manner that the leather had absorbed its original dye. This holds especially true for aniline leather, which has not been treated by manufacturers with a protective surface coating. Ink stains on car leather seats can range from an easily treatable pen mark to a large blotch that threatens to ruin your car's interior. A quick response and careful cleaning can keep your vehicle's leather from suffering permanent damage.

Blot up any ink immediately with a towel or tissues. Wipe the affected area with an ink stick in the direction of the stain and continue blotting up excess ink with tissues or a towel. Do not press the tissues against the leather, as the pressure will help it bleed into the leather's surface.

Vacuum the car seat to remove any dust or dirt -- removing any dirt or grime before you clean the leather will prevent you from accidentally scrubbing dirt into the leather.

Wet a microfiber towel or sponge with dish soap and water. Gently wipe against the direction of the stain or ink mark; for a large stain that bled outward, wipe toward the center of the stain. Rinse the ink out of the sponge and continue cleaning.

Dry the area with a towel.

Apply leather cleaner to the area affected by the ink spot. Wet a microfiber towel with water and rub the cleaner into the leather to create a foam. Let the foam sit for 10 minutes and then wipe it away with a towel.

Apply leather conditioner to the stained area. Rub the conditioner into the leather with a microfiber towel, using a gentle motion.

Check the formerly stained area the next day for any signs of permanent discoloration or ink soaking. You may need to have a professional re-stain the leather in order to restore any of the original leather dye that has been permanently contaminated by the ink.


  • check Keep an ink stick, tissues and towels in your trunk or glove box; if an ink mark occurs, you can pull into a parking lot and quickly prevent any damage.


  • close Do not use rubbing alcohol or hairspray to clean leather. These materials can permanently damage your car's upholstery.

Items you will need

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

More Articles

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Hemera Technologies/ Images