How to Remove Ink Stains from Leather Car Seats

It’s inevitable; if you have leather seats in your car, they are bound to get stained from time to time.

Whether it’s kids, pets, or yourself, messes happen.

One of the hardest stains to get out of leather car seats are ink stains.

They happen so quickly and can seem impossible to get out.

One minute you’re holding the pen, and the next minute it jumps out of your hands and onto the leather.

Or maybe you have a pen in your pocket, and you sit on it, causing a nasty inky mess.

We’ve all done it.

Keep reading to find out how to remove ink stains from leather car seats. 

What You’ll Need

Depending on the method of cleaning you choose, there are a few items you will need.

Start at the top of the list.

These are the items that will be most helpful.

Then work your way down to the bottom of the list.

Only use the items at the bottom as a last resort.

Cleaning Solutions:

Leather Cleaner

A leather cleaner will be your best bet for removing any stain from leather car seats.

I really like this one.

Soap and water

A trusty method for all types of cleaning, and it works great for getting ink out of leather car seats.

Hairspray, nail polish remover, or rubbing alcohol

Any alcohol or aerosol-based product will be a last resort for removing a stain from leather. 

Cleaning Tools:

Cotton swabs

Great for getting ink stains up without spreading it around. 

Get them here.

Small cotton pads

Another great option for removing larger ink stains without spreading it around on the leather. 

If you don’t have any, order them here.

Paper towels

These are needed for drying wet areas and good for dabbing soap and water onto the stain. 

Step By Step Instructions for How to Remove Ink Stains from Leather Car Seats

1. Remain calm.

Try not to rub any of the ink into the leather, and clean it up as quickly as possible.

Use something small such as a cotton swab or a small cotton pad (like a makeup removing pad) so that you do not spread the ink around.

Dab the ink, do not rub it.

If you get to the stain quickly, you have a much better chance of getting the stain out without leaving a mark behind on the leather.

If the stain has had time to set, follow the same steps, though it may require some extra work. 

2. Use the leather cleaner.

It is good practice to purchase leather cleaner if you have any leather products in your home or car.

It can be a lifesaver!

There are many products out there for cleaning leather, but I really like this one.

Chances are, you will be able to remove the ink stain quickly with just this one product.

Start with a small amount on a cotton swab or spray a small amount and dab it.

Again, do not rub the ink, or it will be much harder to remove, and it may leave behind more damage to the leather.  

Pro Tip:

Most leather cleaners will also protect your leather from future damage and keep it looking nice for longer.

3. Use soap and water.

If you don’t have any leather cleaner on hand, soap and water is your next best bet.

Use a moisturizing soap because it will cause much less damage to the leather than a harsher soap.

Soak up any excess ink with a dry paper towel, do not rub it!

This will only make the problem worse.

After you soak up the excess ink, alternate between dabbing a wet, soapy paper towel and a dry paper towel, repeat until all of the ink is removed.

It is important to dry the area between each application of soap and water, as this will reduce further damage to the leather.

Again, start small and do one small section at a time.  

4. Try hairspray, rubbing alcohol, or nail polish remover.

If soap and water aren’t cutting it, use aerosol hairspray, rubbing alcohol, or nail polish remover, but only as a last resort.

If all other options have failed, this option might work.

Again, only as a last resort, should you try one of these options.

If you decide to use any of these, make sure you start out small and slow.

Follow the same procedure as the other methods; dab a small area with the alcohol or other solution, and follow it up with an application of soap and water.

Repeat each of these steps until the ink has been removed.

While using something that is alcohol-based, try to reduce the amount of time it sits on the leather.

This is why the quick application of soap and water is very important. 

Pro Tip:

Using a hairdryer is a great way to make sure the alcohol dries quickly and doesn’t do more damage to the leather.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I get an ink stain out if it has been sitting for a long time? 

It is possible to remove an ink stain that has been sitting for a while, but it will be much harder and require a lot more elbow grease to remove.

It may take more than one attempt to remove all of the ink. 

Can I use all of these remedies at the same time?  

It is not recommended to use all of these remedies at once.

Start at the top of the list and work your way down if they are not working for you.

If none of them work, there is always an option to get the leather professionally cleaned. 


Finding an ink stain on your leather car seats can cause a major panic (trust me, I have been there), but it doesn’t have to cause you to lose control.

It is inevitable that stains will happen, so it’s good to know the quickest method for removing these stains and keeping your belongings nice.

There are ways to remove even the toughest ink stain and keep your leather looking as good as new.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to remove ink stains from leather car seats.

Save this article for future reference; you never know when you might need it. 

Good luck!