Caring for Leather Jackets and BagsSaddleback Stain Solutions: Ink marks on your bag

Saddleback Stain Solutions: Ink Marks 

Saddleback Leather Finishes Quick Clean Score for Ink Marks (1=uncleanable to 10= easily cleaned)

Chestnut- 6, Tobacco- 4, Cobalt Black- 9, Dark Coffee- 8

Key Takeaway: Ink marks must be removed as soon as you discover them.  As they dry and set deep into the fibers of your leather, they become less and less removable.  But there are some tips that can help. Read on for the details...


Don’t have a Saddleback bag yet?  They’re beautiful.  Check em out at Saddleback’s site by clicking here.



So your ink pen slipped and made a mark along the side of your otherwise beautiful Saddleback Bag.  Or you put a pen in your bag and it exploded leaving a pool of black in the bottom.  Or you have a budding artist 3 year old who drew a smiley face on the bag for you. UGH!!

Ink staining is a very common problem with leather.  It is not easy to fix.   A rash attempt to clean the bag with the wrong product will make a small ink problem into a big leather problem.  So let me give you some tips on how to deal with ink correctly:

(You may be thinking who is this guy and why should I listen to his leathercare advice.  So at the end of the article I’ll give you my creds and tell why I am helping the folks at Saddleback)


Tips on caring for Ink marks on your Saddleback leather:


  • Don’t "Google it" for help- I have seen some crazy-bad tips floating out on the web for solving leather problems.  For example here’s some advice I saw on a furniture care blog, "rub a banana peel on your leather to clean it", Huh!?! Instead find someone who knows leather, specifically Saddleback Leather, and get qualified advice.

  • Don’t spray hairspray on the spot-  A common internet solution to ink marks on leather, hairspray will do more damage than good.

  • Don’t wait to remove the ink-  The key with ink stains is to get them out as quickly as possible.  Anyone can remove a fresh ink stain easily.  But even a pro will have trouble removing a set-in ink stain from leather.


  • Buy a rectangular white eraser and keep it in your bag-  This one is worth it’s weight in gold.  Buy one of those white erasers at an office store and throw it in the bottom of your bag.  Then if you swipe your bag with an ink pen, you have the solution right on hand.  Pull out the eraser and quickly rub it over the ink.  In many cases, fresh ink will transfer to the eraser.  Then wipe the ink off the eraser and repeat. 

  • You won’t always find ink immediatly, so at least check your bag daily-  When you get home at night, give a quick look over your bag.  If you find an ink stain the same day it occured, it may come out with the eraser.  If the eraser doesn’t work, it still may not have set deeply into the leather so an ink remover may help.  Check out the next tip..

  • For Carbon Black, Dark Coffee and Chestnut finishes, try an ink removal stick.  Most furniture stores and several online sources will sell you an ink removal stick.  I use the one from It only works on days old ink stains.  It should not be used on your Tobacco finish bag.  You rub it onto the ink stain, let it sit for a few minutes then blot and buff it out with a soft cloth.  If your lucky, it will pull some ink out onto the cloth.  Again, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just get one of these oversized lipstick tubes and throw it in your bag.

  • For Light and Dark Tobacco finish leathers, it is harder to remove ink stains.  The options are few and dangerous for removing ink from the beautiful, but natural, Tobacco leather bags.  If you aren’t carefull, the wrong cleaner can stain the surronding area and cause a larger stain than just the ink. But here are two options to try at your own risk  (I’d pretest these on the bottom of the bag first):
  1. You can try putting a bit of rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and rubbing it over the ink stain.  Then you should wave a hair dryer over the area to dry it so you won’t spread the stain. 
  2. As a last ditch effort, you can buy an ink removal liquid from, mix it with cornstarch and make a paste.  Put a line of the paste on the ink and let it sit overnight.  Brush it off in the morning and it may draw out the ink. 
  3. Accept that the "artwork" on your Tobacco bag makes it even more unique.


  • Help for an exploded pen If a pen inside your bag breaks or explodes, you should draw as much of the ink out as possible.  If not, the ink may bleed through the leather and show on the outside of the bag.  To draw the ink out place ink remover or rubbing alcohol onto a cloth and blot the stain.  You will need to repeat this with clean areas of the cloth many times to draw out the ink.


So, fight to keep ink away from your Saddleback leather it can be very tough to remove.  If you do tend to have pens around your bag, keep an eraser or ink stick nearby to deal with the stain quickly.  It’s your best option.  

Again if you don’t have a bag yet…  click here or on the bag pictured above to go to the Saddleback site and get one, they’re awesome.


Related articles:

"The unique finishes of Saddleback Leather" teaches specific tips on caring for each of the 4 Saddleback finishes.


And as promised, Why listen to me?

My dad says my first word was leather… but since that can’t be proven, I’ll just say I have 25 years in the leather biz.  I’m now the 2nd generatioin owner of a leather cleaning, repair and refinishing company in the Baltimore/Washington DC area.  I’ve seen every problem imaginable to leather and am glad to share my experience to help you.

Why Saddleback?

I’m holding my bag at the left and standing with Chuck Bowen the CEO of Saddleback. I love Saddleback Leather Bags (Incuding my Light Tobacco Classic Briefcase).  I love their core values.  I appreciate their affiliate program.  So if I help you choose and care well for your Saddleback stuff, Saddleback sells more bags and helps more people, and I make a few affiliate bucks when you click through my links… everybody wins.  

How to contact me with questions or suggestions.

If you have a Saddleback leather question I haven’t covered yet, please shoot it to me.  Or if you think I’m wrong or want to add to my suggestions, please do.  I can be reached though twitter by @leatherhelpguy or e-mail me at  Thanks.