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How to remove ink, biro & ballpoint pen marks from leather

Before starting to remove pen marks, it is first important to identify the type of leather. Incorrect cleaning methods or products can increase the damage. We distinguish between the following types of leather when cleaning such stains:

Pigmented leather: Pigmented smooth leather is leather with a protective layer of paint on the surface. They are not porous so a drop of water when rubbed on the surface does not sink into the leather but rolls off. Pigmented leathers generally have a satin finish and a grained surface.
Aniline leather is porous, smooth leather, and liquids penetrate and darken the area.
Suede is the backside of a smooth leather or both sides of spilt leather. They are extremely sensitive and porous. 
Nubuck is the sanded grain side of a smooth leather to create a soft, velvety effect. Just as Suede, they are extremely sensitive and porous. 
PU-Leather / Bycast leather / Bicast leather is a split leather (suede) with a grained film of polyurethane applied to the surface. Such leather is usually shiny and plastic-like.

 

Pigmented smooth leather

Porous aniline leather

Nubuck

Suede

PU leather, Bycast leather
 



BIRO MARKS

 

BIRO MARKS ON PIGMENTED LEATHER


Pen marks on furniture and car leather are common. Unfortunately, these are not always easily removable by standard cleaning products

Please note the following:

  • The fresher a pen mark is, the easier it is to remove. When the pen mark is older than three days, it is rarely possible to just clean and remove the mark. In most cases, this will have to be coloured.
  • Bigger marks and scribbles on large areas are much harder to remove.
  • Cleaning trials with incorrect products can often increase the damage.


Procedure:

  • Always test first in a hidden area. Ideally, replicate the same problem by creating a similar mark in a hidden area and clean strongly to experience what could happen in the visible area. If it’s easy to clean, there is no big risk.
  • Some pens lose a lot of ink. To avoid spreading the ink, glue a masking tape on the top and remove several times to drain any excess ink.
  • Next step is the use of the COLOURLOCK Ballpoint Pen Remover. Press and hold the tip until the tip gets wet.
  • Remove the ink stains with light circular movements in a small radius and little pressure. The liquid softens the area and dissolves the ink.
  • Always remove dissolved ink with a cloth to avoid staining the remaining area and also to see the progress better. Also clean the tip if necessary. The tip of the pen is designed to work on both sides so if necessary remove, turn upside down and re-insert.
  • Repeat the process and slightly increase the pressure if necessary.
  • Older stains can hardly be removed without damaging the colour layer on the leather. In such cases, the colour will also need to be touched up. Ink stains that are not fresh have a tendency to penetrate back out even after the leather is recoloured. It is therefore essential to clean as thoroughly as possible prior to recolouring.

Fresh ballpoint pen marks are easier to remove.

When trying to remove old stains, the risk of rubbing off the colour is much higher.

Damaged areas will need to be recoloured.

BIRO MARKS ON ANILINE LEATHER


Aniline leathers are very sensitive and porous. Pen marks usually cannot be removed without the help of an expert. The risk of increasing the damage is very high. Always test first in a hidden area and use masking tape to cover unaffected areas. Fine sand the mark if absolutely necessary. Rub gently and work with extreme care and precision. The use of COLOURLOCK Ball Point Pen Remover would only cause further stains. Leather Fresh can only help on one tone leather. It is very rare to resolve this with aniline. If in doubt, consult a specialist.

BIRO MARKS ON SUEDE OR NUBUCK


Suede and Nubuck have a velvet surface. Pen marks usually cannot be removed without the help of an expert and the risk of increasing the damage is also very high. Always test first in a hidden area and use masking tape to cover unaffected areas. Sanding with the COLOURLOCK Leather Sanding Pad can be tested too, as the surface is a sanded surface. Rub gently and work with extreme care and precision. Always work from seam to seam. Stop in time, even if small marks remain. The use of COLOURLOCK Ball Point Pen Remover would only cause further stains. A colour repair is not possible.

BIRO MARKS ON PU LEATHER


Most PU leather (bycast/bicast leather) are dark and strokes from ballpoint pens are not so visible. Cleaning the strokes takes the risk of damaging the foil on the suede. Always test in a hidden area first and don’t press or rub too hard. Stop in time, even if the mark is visible. A good colour repair is only possible if the leather is monochrome.




STAINS CAUSED BY MARKER PENS AND INK STAINS

 

STAINS ON PIGMENTED LEATHER

The procedure is the same as the one with biro marks on pigmented leather. Follow the relevant recommendation provided above. In the case of small single pen marks, the COLOURLOCK Ballpoint Pen Remover is the correct product to use. Smudged ink stains should be treated using COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent. In some cases, the area will need to be touched up with COLOURLOCK Leather Fresh. Protect the cleaned area with COLOURLOCK Leather Shield when finished.

 

BIGGER MARKS & STAINS ON ANILINE LEATHER

Aniline leather is very sensitive due to the open pores. Strokes and spots usually cannot be removed without the help of an expert. The risk of increasing the damage is very high.

BIGGER MARKS & STAINS ON SUEDE OR NUBUCK

Cleaning does not provide the desired result as the ink of the pens sinks into the fibres. Removal of the discolouration can be carefully tried with the COLOURLOCK Leather Sanding Pad. Intensive colourations can’t be removed. Ask an expert for advice.


BIGGER MARKS & STAINS ON PU LEATHER

The procedure is as with pigmented leather. Work carefully and test in a hidden area first!

INK STAINS


Lighter ink stains on pigmented leather can be removed like ballpoint pen marks on pigmented leather. COLOURLOCK GLD Solvent is the first choice. Follow the manual for discolouration.

When ink stains sink into the leather, it will need to be treated professionally. Please contact us so we can refer you to someone in your area.  

Large ink stains on suede and nubuck can't be saved even by experts. Please email us photos so we can assist you. 


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