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How to Get Pen Ink Off Shoes without Damaging the Material

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to get pen ink off shoes

Don’t your heart just break a little when your favorite canvas sneakers or leather shoes get stained with pen ink? You probably have tried to wash it off with soap and water. But just as you start rubbing the stains away, you’re left with nothing but an awful sight of messy ink stains.

If it’s been your dilemma on how to get pen ink off shoes, this in-depth guide is for you. As we read on, we will learn effective ink stain removal techniques suitable for different shoe materials.

Let us discuss each and one of them.

Getting Ink Off White Leather Shoes and Patent Leather


If you’re looking for ways to remove pen ink from white leather shoes like your Nike Air Force 1 or other sneakers, the following are the best methods.

These are also recommended for shoes made out of patent leather, a material that has polished, smooth, and glossy texture.

What to Prepare

  • Nail polish or rubbing alcohol
  • Hairspray
  • A clean microfiber cloth
  • Cotton balls

Method 1: Blot the Stain using Nail Polish Remover (Acetone) or Rubbing Alcohol


  1. Apply a small amount of nail polish remover (acetone) or rubbing alcohol to a cotton pad or ball.
  2. Gently blot the stain until the pen ink stain disappears. Do not rub it against the stain harshly to prevent any smudges.
  3. Use a clean and damp microfiber cloth to clear out any ink residues.

Method 2: Use Hairspray

  1. Use hairspray and spray it on the stained area of your shoes.
  2. To get pen off shoes effectively, use a clean and dry microfiber cloth and rub it against the surface in a circular motion.
  3. Once the ink stains disappear, use a clean microfiber cloth to keep the surface smooth and clean.
  4. You may also repeat this process when removing pen ink stains from shoe soles.

Removing Ink From Leather Shoes


Since leather shoes are recommended to be maintained using leather conditioners or creams, we need to use lotion-like cleaners to get ink out of shoes while preserving the soft and flexible texture of leather.

Sunscreen lotion can be used to get rid of pen ink stains from leather while WD-40 is best used on heavy-duty leather work boots.

What to Prepare

  • Sunscreen lotion
  • WD-40
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Soapy water

Method 1: Apply Sunscreen to Remove Ink Stains


  1. Apply a small amount of sunscreen lotion on a clean and dry microfiber cloth.
  2. Gently rub the stained area in a circular motion.
  3. Use another clean microfiber cloth and soapy water to wash off any residues.
  4. Repeat the process until the stains disappear.
  5. You may apply leather conditioners or creams to keep the surface smooth and protected against further damage.

Method 2: Apply WD-40 for Stubborn Pen Ink Stains On Leather Boots

  1. Spray the formula directly onto the affected area of your leather boots.
  2. Let it sit for a couple of minutes.
  3. In circular motion, use a clean and dry cloth to remove pen ink stains thoroughly.
  4. Remove any remaining stains using a soft and clean cloth.

For Canvas Shoes, Suede Shoes, or Fabric Shoes


Household products like distilled white vinegar, dish soap, toothpaste, bleach, and rubbing alcohol can also be used for other purposes.

With correct preparation and application, they can remove pen ink stains effectively from your Converse shoes or any fabric, suede, or canvas shoes that need some meticulous stain removal.

What to Prepare

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Dish Soap
  • Magic Eraser
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Chlorine Bleach (for white shoes)
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (for lightfast-colored shoes)
  • Toothpaste
  • Old toothbrush
  • Clean microfiber or soft cloth
  • A small bowl
  • Cotton balls
  • Cool water

Method 1: Distilled White Vinegar and Dish Soap Solution


  1. In a small bowl, mix 2 cups of cool water, 1 tablespoon of distilled white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of dish soap to form a solution.
  2. Use a clean soft cloth and soak it into the solution. Squeeze it lightly to remove any excess.
  3. Blot the stains using the cloth with the solution. For stubborn pen ink stains, you may use an old toothbrush to gently rub the stains until they disappear.
  4. Dampen the cloth with water to wash off any residues.

Method 2: Use Magic Eraser


  1. Magic Eraser looks like a sponge and should be soaked in cool water to use it properly. After soaking, squeeze it out to release any excess water. This cleaner can also be used on leather shoes. Just make sure to rub it in the stains without rubbing too hard.
  2. Scrub it in the stains gently.
  3. Wipe the residues clean with a clean damp cloth.

Method 3: Try Rubbing Alcohol and Bleach Combo for White Canvas Shoes

  1. Pour a small amount of alcohol onto a cotton ball. Then, blot the stains.
  2. Mix a cup of cool water and 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stains away. Take note that this should only be used to remove ink stains from white shoes. Use hydrogen peroxide instead for lightfast-colored shoes and pour a small amount of it directly onto the stain.
  3. Wash your shoes with mild detergent and water. Let them dry.

Method 4: Use Toothpaste for Small Pen Ink Stains


  1. Apply pea-size toothpaste directly to the stained area.
  2. Use an old toothbrush or a soft scrubbing pad and eradicate the stains in a circular motion.
  3. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before washing the residues away with a mild detergent and water.
  4. Allow the shoes to dry.

Important Reminders When Removing Pen Ink Stains from Shoes

  1. Manufacturers provide instructions about the proper cleaning and storage of your shoes. Make sure to refer to their guide first before proceeding with the ink stain removal recommendations in this article.
  2. Always test your preferred method on an inconspicuous area of your shoes to prevent any further damage. If there are any fading or unwanted changes to the shoe material, skip the procedure.
  3. Should you need to scrub against the stains, do not do it harshly. Start slowly and gently in circular motion to remove the stains thoroughly.


In this article, we have learned different ways on how to get pen ink off shoes effectively. Since shoes are made out of diverse types of materials, it is important to follow the correct cleaning methods, especially when removing stubborn pen ink stains.

The methods mentioned in this guide are recommendations that you can try to keep your favorite shoes free from ink stains. Just always make sure to refer to your manufacturer’s cleaning instructions first and test the solutions on hidden parts of your shoe before working directly on the stains.

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