Identifying the type of leather is very important before attempting to remove ballpoint pen and biro and marks as using the wrong leather cleaning products or method could make the damage worse. These are the different types of leather to consider when cleaning pen marks:
Pigmented leather – this is leather with a protective layer of paint on the surface. If you try to rub a drop of water it won’t penetrate into the leather surface. Pigmented leathers generally have a grained surface and satin finish.
Aniline leather – this is open pore and smooth leather. A drop of water will sink into the surface and darken the area.
Suede – is the backside of a smooth leather or both sides of spilt leather.
Nubuck – also known as split leather, this is the sanded grain side of a smooth leather. It has a very soft velvety feel.
PU / Bycast / Bicast leather – refers to split leather with a grained film of polyurethane on the surface. Usually shiny and plastic-like. If not sure, check with the manufacturer.
Biro marks on leather
We will go through how to remove strokes from ballpoint pens and biros from each type of leather indicated above.
Ballpoint pen and biro marks on pigmented leather
Ballpoint pen and biro strokes on furniture or car seats happen very often, but unfortunately, they are not always easy to remove. The more recent the pen mark is, the easier it will be to remove. When the ballpoint pen mark is older than three days, it is rarely possible to just clean and remove the mark, this will most likely need to be coloured. Be careful not to use the wrong product as this will often increase the damage.
Use the Ballpoint Pen & Biro Remover and test first in a hidden area and if possible create a mark if the area is not visible at all to see if it is easy to clean with no risk. Depending on the type of pen, it might lose more or less ink. In order to avoid spreading the ink further, stick some masking tape on top of the mark and remove it several times to remove any excess ink. Once this is done, we can start using the Colourlock Ballpoint Pen Remover by pressing it until the tip wet. Do small circular movements with the pen remover in a small area putting a bit of pressure. The liquid will soften the area and help dissolve the ink. you should remove any excess ink with a clean cloth to avoid creating new stains. If necessary, clean the Colourlock pen remover tip if too dirty, again to avoid contaminating other areas. The tip has been designed to be removable and turned the other way around, so both sides can be used. Repeat the cleaning process as many times as required to completely remove the marks. It might be necessary to increase the pressure.
In the case of older stains, it is very hard to get them removed without damaging the colour of the leather, they will also need to be recoloured. This is due to the fact that the ink has now penetrated too deep so a light clean and recolour won’t stop it from resurfacing with time even if the leather has been recoloured. It is therefore essential to clean as thoroughly as possible before recolouring.
Ballpoint pen and biro marks on aniline leather
Aniline leathers are very sensitive as they are open pore. Ballpoint pen and biro marks need to be removed by a leather expert as there is a high risk of increasing the damage if not done properly. Usually, the Colourlock Ball Point Pen Remover would only cause further stains in this type of leather, and Colourlock Leather Fresh can only be used to recolour one tone leather. It is very unusual to be able to repair damages to aniline and we strongly advise you consult with a specialist before attempting to do the repairs at home.
Ballpoint pen and biro marks on suede or nubuck
Ballpoint pen and biro marks cannot usually be removed from suede or nubuck leathers due to their velvety surface. You should always seek the help of a professional as the risk of increasing the damage is very high. Always test first in a hidden area and use masking tape to protect unaffected areas. You could also use a Colourlock Leather Sanding Pad working from seam to seam with extreme care to avoid damaging the surface of the leather. Using the Colourlock Ball Point Pen Remover would likely cause further stains. Colour repair is not possible with this type of leather.
Ballpoint pen and biro marks on PU or Bicast leather
PU leather or bicast leather is usually dark, so strokes from ballpoint pens and biros are not that visible. It is very easy to damage the foil surface on this type of leather when attempting to clean it. You should always test in a hidden area first without putting too much pressure. Colour repairs are only possible in the case of monochrome leather.
Ink Stains on Leather
Other than ballpoint pens, stains could be caused by different types of pens or inks. It is important to distinguish the type of ink as the cleaning process is different since this ink will penetrate the leather in a different way. We will once again go through each type of leather.
Ink marks on pigmented leather
The process is the same as described for ballpoint pen and biro strokes on pigmented leather. If the issue is just a stroke, the Colourlock Ballpoint Pen Remover will be the best tool to use, but if there are smeared lines or spots, you should use Colourlock GLD Solvent to dissolve the ink first, then recolour with Colourlock Leather Fresh dye. We recommend to protect the area with Colourlock Leather Shield after recolouring.
Ink marks on aniline leather
Aniline leather is very sensitive due to its open pores. You should seek the help of a professional before attempting to remove strokes and spots from this type of leather as there is a high risk of damaging it further.
Ink marks on suede or nubuck
Cleaning is not a good solution for this type of leathers, as the ink would have sunk into the fibres of the leather. The best option is to try to remove the ink marks using the Colourlock Leather Sanding Pad. If the marks are too deep, they cannot be removed. We recommend you seek professional advice.
Ink marks on PU or bicast Leather
The process is the same as described for pigmented leather.
To summarise, light ink stains from ballpoint pens or biro that are fresh (within three days aproximately) can be removed from pigmented leather with the Colourlock Ballpoint Pen Remover. If the stains are older or more spread than just a few strokes, you will need to use the Colourlock GLD Solvent (please follow the instructions for discolouration). If the colour has come off it might be necessary to also recolour using Colourlock Leather Fresh dye. If the ink stains have sunk deeper into the leather, only a professional can remove them from smooth leather. Ink marks on suede and nubuck leathers in most cases can’t be removed even by a professional.