Cleaning Leather >> Ink Stains and Gum
Ink Stains and Gum
Have you ever had an accident with ink and leather? Or how about
getting gum off of it? Well That's OK, it's not the end of the
world. If you (or your kids :) marked up your sofa or your car
seats with a little ink stain or got some gum on your sofa, here
are a few solutions for you.
The answers are not quite as easy as you might think, because there are different factors involved in each situation. For instance, with ink stains, you need to consider the type of leather and ink type. Pay attention to the type of leather you're dealing with, and everything should work out fine. Ok, here we go...
Getting Ink Stains Off Leather
When it comes to getting ink stains out of leather, ball point ink is the worst because it's oil-based. Other types of ink such as a fountain pen or roller ball tend to be easier since they are water-based. That does not mean getting the ink stain out is impossible, just that it might need different methods.
Ink is a dye. So when it makes a mark on leather, it's quickly absorbed. If the area is small, you might wait a little while to see if the leather absorbs it eliminating the mark. Because of this natural absorption, many solutions used to dissolve ink stains also affect the color of the leather. So whether you use a home remedy or professional solution, always try a small inconspicuous area before tackling the ink stain.
No matter what type of ink stain, start by using a white, non-abrasive pencil eraser. Make sure the ink stain has not been moistened with water, solvent, or alcohol. Gently rub back and forth until the ink stain begins to fade. This process may need to be done several times before you see the desired results.
Once the ink stain is removed, apply a small amount of uncolored leather polish to the spot. When dry, buff with a clean cloth to shine the leather. This procedure has been found to be very successful for Ostrich, Floater, Buffalo, Alligator, Vitelino, Apache, and Caterina leather but is not a good choice for aniline leather since it has not been treated with a protective material.
Another good home remedy is using mineral spirits. Dampen a small section of a soft, clean cloth and gently rub the ink stain. If you notice the ink spreading, stop immediately. If the ink stain starts to disappear, continue and then allow the leather to dry. When dry, apply a small amount of conditioner.
You can also try dampening a soft clean cloth with hair spray,
wood alcohol, a mild multi-purpose automotive interior cleaner,
or a mild dish detergent and warm water, and then gently rubbing
the ink stain. When dry, apply a small amount of leather polish
on the spot, bringing the shine back to the leather.
For remaining spots, dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and
treat just the ink stain area by dabbing with the alcohol and
cotton swab. Dab with the dry end of the swab to blot up the ink.
Try not to spread the alcohol any more than necessary because
it has a drying effect on leather. Once the ink stain is removed,
wash the area with Dove soap.
Stainsafe is a company in Florida that sells a quality Ink and
Stain Remover. You can get it here: Stain
Another professional solution is Quick ‘N Brite, which can be
applied full strength to a sponge or piece of terrycloth and then
gently rubbed over the ink stain in a circular motion. In addition
to cleaning, this product is also a good conditioner, helping
to soften the leather. It's available here: Quick N Brite
If you find that any solution used discolors the leather slightly,
you can purchase a number of leather sprays that will restore
your leather to its natural luster, but remember that if you have
any doubts, you should talk to professional leather cleaners.
Above all, never use any type of solvent or cleaner on leather
that you would use on other household items. Because leather is
porous and if damaged extensively, it cannot be restored.
Getting Gum off Leather
This is common among families with smaller children. A parent's
worse nightmare, is looking over to see their child sleeping on
the car's leather seats or the leather sofa and there lying beside
their head, a big old wad of gum!
One of the easiest ways to remove gum is to freeze it and then
just pick it off. To do this without getting the leather wet and
leaving a water spot, there are a few options you can.
Two excellent methods include freezing a metal spoon and then
placing it directly onto the gum or using a can of pressurized
dust removal, which comes out icy cold. You may have to break
the gum apart in several pieces but generally, it will come off.
Another option is to do the very opposite. Using a hairdryer
on low heat, the gum will become soft which can then be rolled
up into a ball and removed.
A small amount of lighter fluid or Naphtha on a Q-tip will help
soften the gum so it can be removed easily but be very careful
not to touch the Q-tip to the leather or it could damage the color,
sheen, or finish.
De-solv-it, which can be purchased at most hardware stores will
also work. When using these solutions be sure you wipe the leather
after the gum is removed with a clean, damp cloth, and then dry
If all else fails, professionals recommend you try breaking the
gum into smaller pieces, remove the debris, and then take a clean
cloth of mild soap and water and wash the spot where the gum was
stuck. Polish when dry and your leather should be fine.
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