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How to Remove Permanent Marker from Leather: 5 Easy Methods

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

how to remove permanent marker from leather

Permanent markers are useful in many cases when writing on ceramics, wood, stone, etc. However, it can be frustrating to see your seven-year-old child drawing their masterpieces on your favorite leather couch using those permanent markers.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you think that removing Sharpie from leather is an impossible mission.

Fortunately, I am presenting you with not only one but five significant methods of how to remove permanent marker from leather using products you already have at home:

  • Use Your Sunscreen: Spray some sunscreen onto the marker spot and rub it away; repeat several times if needed.
  • Use Your Nail Polish Remover: Apply a small amount of nail polish remover on the stain until it fades away.
  • Use Distilled White Vinegar: Dab the white vinegar on the mark to remove marker from leather using a cotton towel.
  • Use Baby Wipes: Use baby wipes to wipe off the permanent marker.
  • Use Baking Soda and Toothpaste: Apply the mixture of baking soda and toothpaste to the drawn surface, and rub it gently until the stain is gone.

In addition, for all aforementioned methods, you will need to prepare a rag or a towel. If the cleaning area is trivial, some cotton swabs should work perfectly. Any other materials needed will be mentioned in each technique below.

Always Test Your Method in Advance


The sooner you clean your leather, the easier it is to remove the permanent marker. However, there is a likelihood that your cleanser is too strong, and thus, it will ruin your leather or replace that permanent marker with an even more visible unwanted stain.

You should test your detergent on a small part of your leather where it is difficult to be seen. Preferably, you can try it where the leather is folded to the underside of your furniture or any other place that is unnoticeable.

Use a soft cotton ball or rag to dab a tiny amount of product onto that test area and wait a few seconds to see the effect. If the cotton ball is dyed by the leather or your leather seems to be damaged, don’t use it to remove the permanent marker.

Haste makes waste, so it is always better if you spare a few minutes to test your technique before using it on the whole surface. You can always choose the best approach that works on your leather.

Once your method has passed the test, let’s dive into saving your leather!

5 Methods to Remove Permanent Marker from Leather


1. Use Your Sunscreen


Using your daily sunscreen is a unique method to get rid of permanent marker on leather. As long as the sunscreen can protect your skin from the UV light, it can get rid of that unwanted permanent marker on your favorite leather item.

Additionally, you can replace sunscreen with oil-free hair spray, or any other high alcohol-based products, such as hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol.

  • Spray a good amount of sunscreen onto a cotton swab or rag.
  • Gently rub that cotton swab with sunscreen through the permanent marker. Take your time with this step since it is not always easy to remove the stain.
  • Apply more sunscreen if the permanent marker stops coming off. Repeat the process until all stains are removed.
  • Clean up the residue sunscreen with a clean cotton swab or towel.

2. Use Your Nail Polish Remover


This permanent marker removal trick has the same cleaning technique as the previous method. Hence, you can refer to the Use Your Sunscreen instructions above for more information.

However, as the nail polish remover is quite powerful, there are some precautions you need to take into consideration. First of all, use a small amount of nail polish remover every time you apply it.

Moreover, don’t use nail polish remover on black or brown colored leather because it will take away not only the ink stain but also the color of the leather. Hence, this method is best used on white or cream leather.

3. Use Distilled White Vinegar


Yes, you are not reading it wrong. Distilled white vinegar can be your leather’s savior!

This versatile cleaning product has the best effect when the permanent marker spot is new. Older marker stains can also be treated but they will take a bit longer.

  • Pour a moderate amount of white vinegar onto the permanent marker spot.
  • Leave the white vinegar there for a couple minutes so it can penetrate through the leather.
  • Rub the permanent marker ink gently with a rag or cotton swab until the ink disappears completely.
  • Wipe off the remaining vinegar with a clean towel after the permanent marker is gone.

4. Use Baby Wipes


Removing permanent markers from leather can be done easily with the help of baby wipes. If you do not have these wipes, your makeup remover wipes are a great alternative.

Both of these wipes work excellently on leather and skin without causing any harm or damage to either of them. Best of all, there are no special instructions for this technique.

Just use the wipes to scrub the marker ink until all the ink has been removed. After that, use a clean towel to wipe any residue product on your leather.

5. Use Baking Soda and Toothpaste


If all of the tricks above didn’t work, this is the last resort you might want to have a look at. This mixture helps lift the permanent marker ink from your leather by loosening the ink’s grip gradually.

Besides baking soda and toothpaste, you also need a toothbrush for a better effect. Nonetheless, it is optional. Prepare a container such as a bowl to contain your mixture as well.

  • Mix some toothpaste with baking soda in a proportion of 1:1.
  • Directly apply the paste to the marker surface on your leather and leave it there for approximately two minutes.
  • Gently rub the paste into the stain using your toothbrush or a damp rag.
  • Once the marker is completely removed, use a towel to clean the residue paste.

Leather Conditioner for an Astonishing Finish

After your child’s “masterpiece” is cleaned up, there is one final step that you must not forget to take – apply some leather conditioner.

  • Put a small amount of leather conditioner on a lint-free dry cloth. Don’t overdo it since too much conditioner will make the fibre mushy and rot.
  • Apply in a circular motion all over the leather surface.
  • Leave your leather in a clean and cool place to preserve.


As you have seen, removing permanent markers from leather is not a difficult task at all. If a method doesn’t work, keep trying with other techniques until you find a suitable solution for your leather. Besides you are also can refer to more ways to remove permanent marker from shoes or remove permanent markers from rubber.

I hope this article on how to remove permanent marker from leather has been helpful for you. Let me know the final outcome in the comment section. Feel free to share this with other people to have this amazing experience.

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