How to Remove Ink Stains from Clothing

If we lived in a perfect world, we won’t have to agonize over how to remove ink stains from clothing because we would:

  • Make sure that the pens we put in our pockets have their caps on
  • Not buy cheap pens that bleed

Not use our pockets to put pens in (we’d put them on top of our ears like construction workers do)

Alas, this isn’t a perfect world, and as humans we tend to leave our brains behind. That’s why disasters like ink stains happen almost everyday. If we’d venture a guess, we bet our top dollar that an ink stain happens every 1.2 seconds around the world.

There are many suggestions for removing ink stains from clothing. We’ll provide a handful so if the first method doesn’t work, try method 2 and then method 3 and so on. Before removing any ink stains from clothing, read the care labels. There will be pieces of ink-stained clothing that are best left to professional dry cleaners.

Various Methods for Removing Ink Stains from Clothing

Method 1:This is the simplest method. Lay your ink-stained clothing on a white dry towel. Apply a few drops of water to the stain. Let it rest for 5 minutes then gently blot the stain with a white clean rag or cloth. A white blotting cloth is best because it will show you how much ink is coming off. Continue blotting until the stain is completely removed.

Method 2:Follow the same steps in method 1 except this time use hot water.

Method 3:Again, follow the steps in method 1, this time using alcohol. Use a clean white towel to blot off the stain with gentle dabs. The stain should come off and the cloth should be ready for the usual laundering.

Method 4:If none of the first 3 methods work, try using nail polish remover. Gently paint over the stain with the brush. Blot off the stain.

Method 5:
Take detergent powder or liquid and apply on the stained area. Leave for 5 minutes and then rub, causing slight friction. The stain should come off.

Method 6:
This method calls for more “ingredients.” Prepare a clean white cloth (a light-colored one will do as well), bleach, dish-washing detergent, vinegar, alcohol, and water. Mix your water (1 cup) and dish-washing detergent (1 tbsp). Set aside. Rinse the ink-stained spot. Then apply your water/detergent solution on the spot. Add a few drops of vinegar.

Wait 30 minutes. From time to time, blot the stain with your clean cloth. When the 30 minutes are up, rinse the spot which you worked on. Next, put a few drops of alcohol and blot the stain with your clean cloth. Use another area of your cloth to blot so you see how much ink has come off. When dry, add more water and more detergent. If there are still traces of the stain, apply ammonia with a bit of detergent and wait 30 minutes. Rinse.

If the stain is proving to be a stubborn one, use your bleach pen but don’t let the bleach dry on the stain. Wait a few minutes and then rinse with water.

Method 7:
Try using glycerin this time. Rinse the stain with glycerin and then apply a bit of detergent and ammonia. If the stain is still there, use your bleach pen and then rinse completely.

Method 8:The final alternative: use hair spray! Then blot with a cloth or paper towel.

Note that not one method is the best one. A lot will depend on your type of fabric and on your type of ink. The methods above are generally for water-based ink. There are certain types of ink (e.g. dye ink, pigment ink or permanent inks) that will require the use of special agents which only professional cleaners know about. So if you have an expensive fabric and you don’t want to take the chance, let the pros take care of your problem. It will save you precious time and effort plus spare you from frustration.

Removing Ink Stains from Clothing (discussion forums)

Reading about other people’s experiences can also add to our inventory of ideas on how to remove ink stains from clothing. For instance, a famous detergent manufacturer created a discussion forum where everyone can share their tips on removing different kinds of stains. We selected “ink stains” and here are some of the ideas we found:

Apply alcohol on the stain and blot with paper towel. Use Tide Liquid to pre-treat and then launder as usual.

Use OxyClean or Shout.

A bowl of milk? Someone said she soaked the stained spot on a small bowl of milk. It removed most – not all – of the stain so it wasn’t a perfect job.

WD-40 will work like magic according to one poster. Spray on the stain, wait 30-40 minutes then launder as usual.

Use Dawn dish-washing detergent

If you have a permanent black ink stain on a cotton shirt, you’ll need the same ingredients mentioned in the first 7 methods. Permanent blank ink is used by calligraphers so getting a stain from this type of ink is a little different. But it will come off as long as you act quickly.

You’ll need:

A white thick towel (to put right under the stain and to avoid the back of the fabric from getting stained as well. Make sure the towel is thick enough to avoid this contamination or “leak.”), hairspray, alcohol, baking soda, acetone (nail polish remover), cotton balls or Q-tips.

Lay your cotton shirt on a flat surface and put the thick towel underneath the stain (not under the shirt). Squirt some hairspray into the stain. Wait for a minute and then blot the stain with cotton (do not rub). Hairspray contains certain chemicals that will loosen the stain particles. If the stain persists, dab the stain with alcohol using a cotton ball or Q-tip. Keep repeating this step until the stain comes off.

If your efforts are not paying off, mix water and baking soda to make a loose paste and apply on stain. Blot, blot, blot.

Last resort: use nail polish remover.

For ink stains that are old, try Oxy-Clean. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and then launder as usual!