How To Remove Ink From Leather Car Seats?

The kids have really done it this time. While creating an artistic masterpiece in your back seat, they managed to leak ink all over your beautiful, new leather car seats. Of course, you’re fuming and maybe even want to cry a little, but there isn’t time for that.

It’s essential to act fast before the stain sets. Don’t stress. You’ve got this! Here we’ll cover how to remove ink from your leather car seats without causing any damage to the seats. The best part is that you may have many of these products already in your home.   

To remove ink from your leather car seats, you will need first to soak up any excess ink with a clean cloth or paper towel. Then using a clean white cloth, apply isopropyl rubbing alcohol and blot gently to lift the stain. Follow up with white vinegar.

Next, rinse off the stain remover. Finally, finish up with a leather conditioner to restore any moisture lost during cleaning and prevent future damage. 

Moms know how to clean up all kinds of messes, and while fresh ink on your leather car seats is certainly not the end of the world, it sure can be frustrating. 

Commercial cleaners can work well, but they can be abrasive on leather, causing damage and discoloration, so it’s best to use more gentle home remedies whenever possible. 

So follow the steps below immediately after the spill for the highest chance of a successful cleanup. 

You’ll need the following items to get started: 

  • three clean white cloths (microfiber preferred)
  • paper towels
  • Q Tips or cotton balls
  • isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • white vinegar
  • water
  • leather conditioner

Note: A good tip is to use white towels or cloths to clean up. This way, you can see the stain absorbing into the fabric, and they are easy to bleach afterward, so you can prevent the ink from transferring to another location. 

Step 1: Soak Up Excess Ink

If there is any ink pooled on your car seat, it’s important first to soak it up before it has a chance to absorb further into your seats. If the stain gets embedded into your seats, it will be much more difficult to remove. 

Using a clean rag or paper towel, gently soak up the ink using a dabbing motion. Be careful not to smear the stain around when you do this and work from the inside out. 

Step 2: Apply Stain Remover

Next, you will want to apply the stain remover. Apply a small amount of the isopropyl rubbing alcohol to a clean cloth or Q-tip and test in an inconspicuous area of your car seat. Let it dry, and if it doesn’t cause damage to your seats, it should be safe to use on the stain. 

Either 70% or 99% isopropyl alcohols are effective in degreasing solvents, and they also evaporate quickly, making them an ideal cleaning agent for finished leather.  

Denatured alcohol is also an option. However, it is a more potent solvent and has a greater risk of discoloring your leather. You can find several brands of rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol in drug stores or online.

To apply, blot a small amount of the alcohol onto the cloth using a dabbing motion and let the ink transfer to the cloth. A Q-tip or a cotton ball will also work well for a minor stain. Again, make sure to apply a good amount of pressure to help lift the stain. 

Repeat until the stain has lifted, then let dry for 30 minutes. If the stain is still visible after 30 minutes, continue applying small amounts of the rubbing alcohol with the cloth.

Never pour rubbing alcohol directly onto the leather, and always make sure that you continue using it in small quantities to minimize the risk of discoloration. 

After the alcohol has dried, apply a small amount of white vinegar to a clean cloth and treat the stain. Vinegar will help to clean the leather further and lift the stain.

Cleaning Solution Alternatives

If you prefer not to use rubbing alcohol and the stain is very fresh, consider trying a dish soap and water mixture first. Mix 1/2 teaspoon of mild liquid dish soap with a small amount of water and mix until bubbles form. 

Using the same dabbing technique described above, gently blot the stain from the inside out, applying pressure to remove the stain, but be careful again not to rub. 

If you don’t have isopropyl rubbing alcohol on hand, the following should work as well: 

  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish remover
  • baking soda
  • cuticle remover
  • hand sanitizer

To apply these products, use the same method as above by applying to a clean cloth and blotting the stain. 

Yet another cleaning option for your leather seats is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser which you can find in drug stores, grocery stores, or online. It’s safe to use on all kinds of finished leather furniture products. Follow the instructions on the package by wetting the Magic Eraser and applying it to the stain. Just make sure not to scrub too hard as it can be abrasive. 

Step 3: Assess the Stain

Take a good look at the stain after cleaning to make sure it has come up successfully. If it appears that the stain is still visible, repeat step 2 above until you’re satisfied with your results. 

Step 4: Rinse The Stain

After cleaning up the stain, you must make sure to clean up the excess cleaning products to avoid damaging your car seats. 

Dampen a rag with a small amount of water and blot up the cleaning solution from your seats. Repeat until you’ve removed all of the cleaning solutions. Follow up by soaking up any excess water with a dry towel. 

Step 5: Apply Leather Conditioner 

For the final step, you will want to apply a leather conditioner to your seats. It’s important to use a leather conditioner to help prevent future stains and restore the moisture in the affected area that the cleaning agent may have removed. It will also prevent your seats from any future cracking and wear and tear. 

Try this non-toxic formula from Leather Honey. To apply, dab a quarter-sized amount to a lint-free cloth and spot test in an inconspicuous area on your seat. Then apply to the affected area of your car seat.  

It’s a good idea to make a habit out of regularly conditioning your leather car seats all over to preserve and extend their life. 

What About An Old Ink Stain?

Now you know that the sooner you clean up an ink stain, the easier it will be to clean, but what about an ink stain that you discover later? Is there any hope of removing an ink stain that’s been sitting in the hot sun a while?

If you find yourself cleaning up an ink stain that has been allowed to set in, the best thing to do is follow the same steps above. The difference is that you may need to repeat step 2 several times before seeing an improvement, and you can eliminate step 1 since the stain will be dry already.  

How To Remove Ink Stains From Fabric Car Seats?

If you have fabric car seats, your plan of attack will be slightly different than leather car seats. 

Start by mixing one tablespoon of gentle dish soap with two teaspoons of white vinegar and dab the solution on the stain using a clean cloth. Again, make sure not to rub. 

Let sit for ten minutes, and using the cloth rub to remove any ink that hasn’t come up. Finally, wipe off the cleaning solution with a damp cloth. 

Are There Other Tricks for Removing Crayons from Car Seats? 

Now that you’ve conquered the ink stain, you may be wondering how to remove the crayon marks from your leather as well. Unfortunately, crayons can be incredibly frustrating since they can melt in the hot sun and continue to bleed on your leather. 

The good news is that isopropyl alcohol can also be a good solution for eliminating crayon messes from your leather car seats as well. 

Dab the affected area with rubbing alcohol, then wipe clean with a damp, soapy cloth, making sure to remove all of the cleaning solutions after application. 

For fabric seats, try artist mineral spirits from U.S. Art Supply to lift stubborn crayon stains. Using a bone folder or a butter knife, gently work the area to help remove the crayon stain. Finish off with some isopropyl alcohol before rinsing with water. 

Final Thoughts 

Spills and messes are part of life, especially with young kids. And while we never want to hinder our kiddo’s artistic expression, it’s never fun to deal with ink stains on your beautiful car seats either.  

Luckily, the next time it happens, you now know the steps to restore your car seats to their previous state with several products easily found in your home.   You may also be interested in removing tree SAP from your car windows.

Author

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren