Isopropyl alcohol, plain old rubbing alcohol, works best for home removal of ink stains from leather. Fresh ink stains are easier to remove and usually come out easily, while older stains may require repeat treatments. Leather is porous and the stain can penetrate deep into the hide.
Begin by dampening a white cotton cloth or cotton swab with the alcohol. Don’t use a colored cloth because it can transfer dye to light-colored leather. Work from the outside of the stain toward the middle by dabbing with the cloth. Keep the work area small – do not spread the ink into a bigger area!
You should be able to see the ink transfer to the cloth. Dampen a clean area of the cloth or get a new swab as you see ink coming off to prevent re-staining the Bible cover. Gently, keep blotting away until the ink is gone. Do not scrub harshly as that can remove color and a layer of leather.
Allow the Bible cover or folio to air dry after or between treatments. Once the ink is removed, treat it with a leather conditioner to help it remain supple and smooth.
You can also use commercial ink removers like:
- Amodex Ink & Stain Remover
- Ink B Gone
Old Wives’ Tales:
You’ve probably heard about using hairspray, dish detergent, laundry soap, mayonnaise, and abrasive erasers to remove ink from leather. Yes, someone from somewhere has had success using these methods, but they cannot be recommended. Perhaps the best of the bunch is hairspray, which contains high alcohol content, but the other ingredients in the spray can cause staining and other problems. Only use it in an emergency on a fresh ink stain.
The abrasive erasers will probably remove the ink but they’ll also remove a layer of the leather. So, you’ll need to decide if you want a stain or a hole.