Is permanent marker on a leather sofa hopeless?

Virginia7074July 7, 2005

My beige leather sofa now has blue permanent marker on it. Not a direct hit - it rubbed off a person's arm while she was sleeping. I've read about saddle soap and Ivory Snow (suds only), escalating to hairspray, alcohol, Armor All. Any ideas? I'd try it on an inconspicuous spot first. The stains are less than 24 hours old, too. Thanks for your help!

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Perhaps you should contact the maker of the permanent marker and ask them if there is normal household solvent that could dissolve it. Or, check info on the permanent marker web site, if they have any. I have no idea how to clean this. I know alcohol is pretty good solvent - but alcohol on leather may not be good. Acetone is another good one, but again may harm the leather. The other idea is to contact the company that produces your leather sofa/or the store you bought it from and ask if they know to clean a permanent marker on it.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2005 at 6:50PM
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I've heard (not tried) CUTICLE remover-not nail polisher remover-works well on leather stains. Try it on a hidden area.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 8:29AM
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I don't have an answer on how to remove the marker but when I was shopping for a leather sofa a few months ago I bought a sectional from Omnia Leather. One of the reasons is that Omnia anticipates things like this happening. All of the seat cushions and backs on my sofa are removable so if this happened to my sofa the salesperson told me that I could simply unzip it and send it to the factory and they would replace that cover. Obviously I would have to pay for the replacement cover, but that would not bother me, I got rid of the mark or tear or whatever I did to it.

The ability to do this made me look only for sofas with this feature. I was surprised how few had it.

By the way, my sectional from Omnia is fantastic.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 8:21AM
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What about Mr. Clean "Magic Eraser". The box states it can be used on leather shoes, car & boat interiors. It gets anything off of everything! I've used it to remove ink from a wall. Might be worth a try - just do an inconspicuous area first. Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 9:26PM
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There are specific leather cleaners, usually sold in the car cleaning supplies area of all the big box stores, which are supposed to be good for cleaning car interior leather, might work.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2005 at 12:12PM
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When we got our leather furniture a few years ago, it came with a set of condition, cleaner, and stain remover by Guardsman.

The stain remover comes in a tiny jar (clear liquid), and is by Guardsman. It says on the jar "Ink & Lipstick Cleaner for All Finished Leathers". We haven't had to use it yet. It might work extremely well. I can say do NOT leave it sitting on top of any painted surface. We accidently left it sitting on the top of our painted bar top and it ate through the finish. LOL

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Another vote for the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 5:26PM
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Well, alcohol, hairspray and a leather cleaning and conditioning kit have failed so far. Am going to try the cuticle remover and Magic Eraser. The set came with an ottoman, so the bottom of that is an inconspicuous test spot. If all else fails, I'm going to take the ottoman in to the leather repair store where I bought the kit, where hopefully I can match the dye. Then I'll try alcohol on the bottom of the ottoman and see if I can match the dye. Failing that, I've seen some nice Indian sofa cushions online that would draw the eye away from the marks. They're actually not as noticeable as if someone had drawn them on with a marker - sigh - teenagers.

Interesting info about Omnia - thanks.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 11:08AM
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Restoration Hardware also sells a leather cleaner - and their products are usually excellent.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 11:38AM
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Okay you are going to think I am crazy and might only try this as a last resort. I am a teacher and we use permanet marker on a lot of things that are laminated. A lot of my fellow teachers want to get the permanet marker off the things they have laminated and use them again. Usually they do this with hairspray. I use a white board marker and rub it on and the permanent marker comes off instantly.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 10:18AM
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If all else fails, rest assured it will come off in a year or two. My 2 year old did draw all over our leather recliner with permanent black. It's all off now, most likely a little bit on everyone's clothes. :)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 9:57AM
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Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will do the trick!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 6:01PM
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Just wondering....did anything work to get the ink off??

    Bookmark   July 28, 2005 at 11:24AM
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Believe it or not, doing nothing might be the answer. About 10 years ago, a friend of mine's son splotched a big stain of permanent marker on their leather sofa. She frieked, called the furniture store, and immediately ordered another (replacement) cushion....even though the salesperson tried to convince her to wait a while. Guess what? Within a few months the stain had been totally absorbed by the leather.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2005 at 11:03PM
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A few years ago, my then-6 year old niece used permanent black marker on my father's leather car upholstery. We thought it was a lost cause, and out of desperation, I took the car to a pricey auto detailer. One of the guys brought out a solvent that took the stain right off without a mark -- cost me $10 tip since he wouldn't charge me. I'd check with an auto detailer or leather repair shop, I'll bet they can take care of it. Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 11:21AM
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Sorry to take so long in getting back. I was on vacation, then kind of forgot where I'd posted.

Nothing so far has worked, including Magic Eraser. (But that's OK - I cleaned up a few walls while I was at it.)

I'll try the auto detailer idea. I do like dfw17's idea of doing nothing, too. I'm going to keep tabs on the marks.

Thanks for all the good suggestions!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2005 at 12:59PM
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Wow, I am surprised Magic Eraser didn't work. I was going to mention it immediately when I saw the title of your post. It took Sharpie marker off of our wood armoire. I was totally impressed..... let us know how the other options work....

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 2:03PM
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Again, it might harm your leather but Expo dry erase board cleaner will get permanent marker off a dry erase board very easily.

I'd be inclined to wait it out though.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2005 at 8:41AM
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If alcohol or hairspray doesn't work, I might try a solvent like Goof Off (try if in an inconspicuous (sp?) place first to be sure it doesn't harm the leather finish. I also have a friend whose 1 year old daughter scribbled all over her brand new off white leather sofas with black permanent marker - she had purchased the extended warranty and the repair person was able to remove it completely. So I would try a leather repair shop.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 2:03PM
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Everything I've found says to never use a solvent on leather. I wouldn't use anything that isn't made for this purpose. Here's a product from Leather Magic just for this:

It's not too expensive, You can order the smallest bottle for around $10. I'm about to order the Cleaner and Conditioner. One of the reasons I decided on this brand was because at it says that these products don't make your leather shiney. I want to make sure I keep that nice, matte texture I have now.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 1:44AM
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I had a friend's 2 year old COMPLETELY cover the top and front of my leather sofa with multiple colors of Sharpie Marker, I got about 80% of it off with a product called Sol-U-Mel from Melaluca. But, I am not sure how much it damaged the leather, it did start to take up some of the dye- it is a red leather. But, I am willing to lose some of the color to remove the marker. However, I still have some major markings left and don't want to scrub all of the color out either. Any suggestions of what to do to remove the last remaining marker? It definately is less than before, but is still noticible. I am planning on buying a conditioner to help the leather stay as nice as possible. Also, any idea how to approach this friend on replacement, or payment of my trouble and EXTREME irritation? I am at a loss as to what to do with that end of things. She didn't see how bad it was, and I know they can't afford to buy me a new sofa, but, her daughter did ruin my sofa. And, I have 6 kids, none of them have EVER done anything like that ever! So, I am very upset about it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 11:39PM
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**** WARNING ***** Magic Erasure magically erased my leathers finish as well as some of the ink. Even though this product may seem pretty safe, test it in an inconspicuous spot first! My kid started the trashing of our leather I finished the job with the help of Mr. Clean.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2006 at 8:25PM
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I wouldn't use the magic eraser on any leather. It's esentially a very fine sanding pad, it will take paint off of wood, it will compleatly take the top layer off of leather.

I have no clue on how to take marker off of leather. If you manage to get the stain out let us know.

Best of luck,

    Bookmark   May 27, 2006 at 10:42PM
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I just removed scibbled green sharpie permanent marker off our leather ottoman with 91% isopropyl alcohol and a q-tip after my two year old nearly gave me a heart attack. It came up very easily. It lightened the color of the leather however in that area as well but a little brown shoe polish and leather treatment made it look just like new.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 6:48PM
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They carry these at Lowe's. I found them in the "cleaning products" aisle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ink remover stick

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 3:53PM
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Magic Eraser, as others say, is a fine abrasive. It can cause damage.

Isopropyl alcohol is a strong cleaner for leather, but can pull color. Methanol is a very strong cleaner, read: stripper, for leather colorants.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 3:56PM
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Try some "Ink Out". My daughter's "art" with a sharpie bled through to our Corian counters. I tried everything with not an iota of success until I tried the Ink Out. It dissolved on contact! Totally dissolved and wiped away. It may not work on leather since it can absorb deeper, but it may be worth a try. I would for sure test it first. Sorry about your sofa. Hope that something works eventually. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 12:10AM
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There are specialty cleaners for removing stains and markers from leather. One has to be careful with them or you will remove the pigment from the hide. Generally they come in various steps, from mild, to medium, to strong, to very strong. When we have to remove a mark or stain, we always start with the mild cleaner and work our way up to the strong ones.

When in doubt, call a place like Leather Medic (they have a web site), they have all the cleaners and will also be able to match in a stain should some pigment come off. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 3:11PM
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OK. You will think I'm crazy, but I have a solution for you. We were on our way to Cedar point 2 weeks ago and my daughter woke up from sleeping for 3 hour car ride and said "Dad, the ink from my hand is now on the car seat (leather). I was ready to scream, but I didn't.

We were 5 minutes away from Cedar Point and this is the last thing I want to deal with. I asked her what kind of marker was on her hand.....our course it was permanent marker.

My wife had her laptop with an internet card so she did a quick Google on permanent marker stains on leather. I thought she was crazy when she told me that people had success with Coppertone SPF 30 sport spray suntan lotion.
She read me the thread she found and sure enough several people had luck with it. So I popped into Right-aid and bought a bottle. It took 2 or 3 sprays and some rubbing with a soft cloth and the marker stain was gone. I was surprised, but very happy. I put some leather condition on the spot when I got home and it is as good as new.

Keep in mind that my leather is a light tan leather so the marker was plain as day before I treated it.

I know it sounds crazy, but surprisingly it did work. I don't know if its something in the suntan lotion or in the propellant. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 1:54PM
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Finger nail polish remover it just happend to mine and thats the only thing that worked

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 1:50PM
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A note to anyone reading this thread in a year or two:
- Before you do anything with any over-the-counter product, you should TEST your procedure on an inconspicuous spot. It's really easy to damage leather with a product / process that is too aggressive for it. Because it worked on one leather for one person doesn't mean it's going to work for you on yours.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2011 at 6:59PM
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I just used coppertone sport 50 spray on my 3 month old tan sofa, and permanent marker came miraculously out! I had already tried soap and water (nothing) and lighter fluid (started to take off some color + no result). I read about the coppertone on an earlier post. I tried it on a sample of the leather. It took the sharpie right off. I cannot believe it!!!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 8:19PM
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Companies such as Guardsman do sell an ink remover which would take the marker off your leather sofa. The only problem is unless your sofa was previously treated with a leather conditioner it will tend to remove some of the surface finish to the leather. For example if your leather had a slight sheen the sheen will be somewhat altered making the area noticeable. If you had treated the sofa with a conditioner prior to marking the sofa then purchase Guardsman ink remover and carefully rub the area with a clean cloth using as little as possible. You might want to try this in a hidden area first. Although I have never tried this I have also heard the silicone spray applied to a clean cloth will remove marks from leather. It also depends on the type of leather it is. If it has a "painted" surface, a "protected leaather" it will more likely come out. A more natural leather with less surface protection will be more difficult to remove. You could try these methods but you may want to call a professional leather repair company who could easily remove the stain and refinish the surface if needed.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 7:07AM
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Dora Vann Snider

This happened to me about two months ago. We used coconut oil on a cloth, rubbed it gently, and it disappeared. It was a very big black mark that my little great-grandson did on half of the back of leather sofa.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 10:32PM
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I've used Amodex stain remover for several years and really like it. It completely removed a heavy black Sharpie stain on our new fabric sofa. We also use it often on clothes stains with complete success.

I've never used it on leather but it's advertised that it also good for removing stains on leather. It's nice that it's basically soap so you don't have to worry about damaging the surface with the product. For some stains you have to repeat the cleaning process many times to completely remove the mark, but it eventually comes out.

I definitely don't like Magic Eraser. It's like using very fine sandpaper and rubbing off the finish. Before I discovered Amodex I discolored a small spot of leather in my car after removing a Sparpie mark. I would have rather had the Sparpie mark than the discolored spot of leather from Magic Eraser.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2012 at 9:25AM
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Rub nail polish remover on the permanent marker if the stain is still visible. Continue to apply and rub the stain with a clean cloth until it has been removed.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 5:42AM
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Andrew applying nail polish remover (acentone) to leather sounds risky.. Before I would attempt this, and pesonally I woudn't attempt this, I would try this on a scrap of leather. Using coconut oil sounds interesting. I'll have to try that.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 8:29AM
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My daughter put the sharpie marks on our new leather sofa.
After checking 2 earlier posts about Coppertone 30 spray sun block, I bought it immidiately. Voila! The mark's gone. Thanks guys for the suggestions.
Earlier I tried nail polish remover and hair spray. Hair spray faded the color a lil but Coppertone was like magic!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Mahasad.. Coppertone? That's something new I will definitely try it. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 1, 2012 at 10:28AM
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Hello everybody! Thanks to all of you to bring up the subject of cleaning the leather furniture from permanent marker! Special thanks to "Cool" a teacher and his advice of using hairspray, it actually worked and cleaned the beige leather surface of arm chair from blue permanent marker, it worked as a charm! So, hairspray is the way to go in our cleaning case!

    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 7:18PM
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You can also purchase ink remover from Guardsman and Guardian. Just use it sparingly as it can remove the finish. I have also seen retailers use Silicone spray but I haven't tried this myself.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2014 at 10:15PM
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The simplest way to find out how to treat a particular type of stain from a specific type of fabric is to simply use Google or other search engines and ask for advice.

For example if you Google "How can I get a permanent marker stain out of my leather sofa?" You will get a list of several articles including the one listed below.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 1, 2014 at 12:38PM
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