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Being a natural material, leather is one that requires a little bit of TLC to maintain its quality, comfort and lustre that brings so much joy. When it comes to getting stains off leather, there are a few things to avoid doing at all costs, no matter how many success stories you’ve been told.

For one, nail polish remover is a big no-no, as the acetone dissolves the leather’s finish and typically causes discolouration. You should also stay away from hairspray, shoe polish, and markers (it’s impossible to ‘retouch’ your sofa to the exact tone and shade with regular markers).

In this case, the best way to get Biro out of a leather sofa is to use a specialised leather cleaning product. However, if you don’t have any on hand, we’ve listed a few of the safer methods to try at home below. Just remember to always test your chosen cleaning solution on a small, hidden part of the sofa to check for discolouration before moving on to the problem spot.

1. Commercial leather care products

Leather cleaner
Leather Care UK
  • Step 1: Apply leather care product for removing ink stain.
  • Step 2: Apply leather cleaner on the stain.
  • Step 3: Apply leather protector to restore the finish.

2. Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol)

70% rubbing alcohol
  • Step 1: Dip a cotton swab in a little rubbing alcohol.
  • Step 2: Gently dab off the stain, working from the outside in to keep the working place small. The less alcohol you use, the better as it dries out leather.
  • Step 3: Use a soft cloth to pat dry any remaining alcohol. Never use an air dryer on leather.
  • Step 4: If possible, apply a leather cleaner-conditioner product to finish.

3. Liquid dish soap

liquid dish soap
  • Step 1: Dampen a soft cloth with warm water and 1-2 drops of mild and clear liquid dish soap.
  • Step 2: Use the cloth to gently rub off the stain from the outside in.
  • Step 3: Rinse the cloth in warm water and squeeze out the excess water. Wipe the affected area gently to remove any soap residue.

4. White vinegar and water

white vinegar and water
  • Step 1: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water.
  • Step 2: Using a soft cloth, dip into the solution and gently rub the stained area in circular motions.

Protecting your leather sofa

Besides avoiding eating, drinking, and having children dancing wildly with markers around the sofa, there are a few easy steps we can take to protect leather sofas.

  • Keep your leather sofa out of the sun and away from the heater to avoid damage and discolouration.
  • Use a good leather conditioner yearly or half-yearly to refresh the protective layer and preserve the beautiful sheen.
  • Clean spills immediately and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Clean your sofa regularly by dusting and using a vacuum with a soft brush attachment.
  • Protected leathers may be further cleaned with a specialised leather cleaner, but it is not advisable to use any sort of cleaning solution on unprotected
  • leathers like aniline.
  • Avoid using damaging substances like nail polish remover when seated on your leather sofa.

For more tips on furniture care and maintenance, check out our Care and Repair Advice page.