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How To Get Ink Out of Clothes

How To Get Ink Out of Clothes

Whether you left your pen open inside the pocket, mistakenly placed an ink pen in the washer, or your kids decided to paint on one of your shirts. It is not a welcoming sight to encounter a messy appearance on your clothes. 

All the ink and fabric types are not the same. Water-based ink stain is washable and easy to remove. On the other hand, an oil-based ink smear requires extra elbow grease to vanish permanently.

If you do not address the ink blotch manually before it sets in the fabric. It becomes tough to extract the smear from the garments. 

Tips To Follow

There are certain precautions and actions you got to initiate before cleaning the ink-stained garments. Following suggestions can save your clothes from getting further damaged.

  • Avoid mixing chlorine, bleach, and ammonia.
  • Do not use hot water. Use cool or warm water instead. Hot water can shrink some clothing materials.
  • Do not dry the cloth with a heated dryer. It will set the taint.
  • Do not soak the stained cloth, the ink can spread.
  • Test the product in a small patch before starting the process.
  • Only dry the cloth after the smudge has vanished.
  • Follow the instructions before using any product.
  • If the garment label reads dry cleaning only, leave the work to the professionals.
  • Apply petroleum jelly to a fresh stain to stop it from spreading.

Removing ink stains from different fabrics

Removing the ink spots depends on what type of ink it is or what fiber it has seeped in. From wool, cotton, polyester, suede, and leather ink stains can be targeted to every type. 

Wool Based Fabric

Stains like ink can get absorbed fast on wool fabric. It can spread easily making it hard to get rid of the smear. Use lemon and mild detergent paste technique to extract ink blotch from the fabric. Patch test the fabric before applying any cleaning methods.

  1. Make a mixture of 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of mild detergent. 
  2. Prepare the stained fabric by placing a white towel underneath it. 
  3. Run cool water on the wool and rinse it. 
  4. Paste the mixture onto the spot and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  5. Wash it in the laundry like you normally would.

Polyester Clothing

Polyester fabrics are synthetic cloth material that is made out of a combination of carboxylic acid and alcohol. That is why polymers are generally resistant to mild abrasion and chemicals. But that does not mean you should apply harsh chemicals like bleach on wool fabrics.

Rubbing alcohol is a good solution to remove ink stains from polyester clothing. Apply a small amount of alcohol onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot it until it is permanently removed.


Cotton fabrics are made of natural fibers. They are sensitive and need extra care while extracting stains from them. Extract ink stains from it by using 1 tablespoon of mild detergent, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, and 1-quarter of water. Apply the paste onto the stain and let it work for a few minutes. Rinse the stained area after it is done.


Cloth made of suede is expensive in comparison to other fabrics. It should be treated differently while getting stains out of it. 

Utilize a special nylon brush or sandpaper and gently scrub the stained area. Generally, brushing only removes mild stains. Apply rubbing alcohol in case of tough stains like oil-based ink stains. Pour a small amount of alcohol into a cotton ball and blot the ink stain from your suede garment.


Even though Leather garments are stain-resistant. Ink stains can leave a mark that is tough to tackle but not impossible. It is a good idea to deal with the stain when it is wet and fresh. Apply isopropyl alcohol and gently blot the stain from the leather. Remember to do a patch test before starting the process. 

Ignore using hairspray on leather, although it contains alcohol, other chemicals used in it can damage the fabric.

Removing Oil-based Ink Stains

Ballpoint pens are oil-based and their ink stain is stubborn to remove. You can cut oil-based products with alcohol and glycerin-based items.

Oil-Based Ink Stains

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing Alcohol

Ink is made with oil and dyes. It stays on whatever surface you apply. When stuck into clothing fibers, it is difficult to remove them. Alcohol is great to remove both oil-based and water-based oil stains. It is a good idea to test it before trying as it can be harsh on delicate materials. You can use this method on cotton and polyester fabrics.

Alcohol can cut any oil-based stain on garments. It can cut ballpoint ink stains as well as tip pen ink stains. Not only ink stains, ethanol can also detach makeup out of clothes. But, you have to be extra careful about the clothing material. As it can damage delicate materials like silk, wool, and rayon. 

  1. Place the stained garment on the top of a clean white towel.
  2. Pour a small amount of alcohol onto the stain.
  3. Blot and dab the smudge until you see the blotch lifting.
  4. Repeat the process until the spot is gone.
  5. Rinse the cloth with cold water.
  6. Let the garment dry.


Using alcohol-based hairspray on the stained area is another great method. It is best for fabrics like cotton, chenille, and corduroy. 

  1. Use a white towel underneath the stained cloth.
  2. Spray hairspray onto the ink stain.
  3. Blot and dab the area with a clean cloth.
  4. Continue the process until the stain is gone.
  5. Machine wash the cloth after the stain has vanished.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer has a high concentration of alcohol. It is effective to remove fresh as well as old ink stains. 

  1. Apply a small amount of sanitizer onto the stained cloth.
  2. Gently scrub the area with a toothbrush.
  3. Repeat the process until the stain is removed.
  4. Machine wash the cloth and dry it as usual.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is made with acetone. Acetone is best to get out the stain from certain fabrics. You should test the product before applying it. If the fabrics contain acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic. Do not use acetone in such material.

  1. Put a towel under the stained cloth.
  2. Soak cotton or sponge with nail polish remover.
  3. Dab and blot the ink stains.
  4. Rinse the cloth with cool water.
  5. Repeat the process until the stain is gone.
  6. Wash and dry it as usual.

Using Glycerin

Glycerin is a great solution to cut oil-based ink stains. It works on different garment materials like wool, silk, cotton, and polyester. Remember to do a patch test before starting.

  1. Put a white towel underneath the stained cloth.
  2. Soak the stained area with cold water.
  3. Apply the glycerin onto the damaged area and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Blot the area with cotton.
  5. Rinse it with warm water.
  6. After the stain is gone, the machine washes the cloth.

Removing Water-based Ink Stains


This kind of stain can be smudged and spread easily. As compared to oil-based, it does not put tough stains on cloth. You will find water-based ink in fountain pens, felt tip pens, gel pens, highlighters, and rollerball pens. It is easily removed using simple methods like rinsing it in warm water. But, dried ink stains will need more than just hot water.

Apply Salt To Fresh Stain

Cover the stain in salt

This method will work only when the stain is fresh. Salt has ability to absorb the smudge.

  1. Cover the fresh spot with salt.
  2. Let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Take a wet cloth and start dabbing the cloth.
  4. Remove the salt to see if the stain has been removed.
  5. Repeat the process if it has not.
  6. If it has launder the cloth as usual.

Using Vinegar And Cornstarch

White distilled vinegar is a non-toxic cleaning agent. It is useful for any cleaning purposes. Because of its gentle nature, you can apply it to any fabric. Vinegar has ability to successfully remove ink, wine and slime out of clothes.  

  1. Place a white cloth or rag under the stained garment.
  2. Make a mixture of two parts of vinegar and three parts of cornstarch.
  3. Place the mixture onto the ink stain.
  4. After it is completely dried, rinse the area with warm water.
  5. Wash and dry as usual if the stain is removed.

Laundry Detergent

Dish soap is easily found in any household. Mild laundry detergent is safe on any clothing fabric. 

  1. Lay a white towel under the stained garment.
  2. Blot the stained area with a wet cloth or cotton.
  3. Apply a teaspoon of detergent to the ink blotch.
  4. Let the soap sit for 5 minutes
  5. Scrub the area gently and rinse it with warm water.
  6. Wash the garment after the stain is gone.

Soak Cloth On Milk

Soak Cloth On Milk

You can remove water-based ink stains by using milk. It is one of the fastest and easiest method. It is gentle on fabrics and is useful to remove the stain.

  1. Soak only ink-stained area in a bowl with milk.
  2. Let the garment sit overnight.
  3. Rinse the cloth with lukewarm water.
  4. Wash and dry it as usual.

Dealing With Permanent Ink Stains

Permanent ink comes in all types. You can break down them with the help of alcohol and acidic components.

  • Rubbing alcohol: It is one of the best methods to get permanent ink out of garments. Rub a small amount of alcohol and gently blot until the stain has lifted. Rinse the cloth with warm water. Wash and dry it as usual. 
  • Mix lemon juice and vinegar: Lemon juice is acidic and it can dissolve grease and stains. Make a mixture and apply it to the ink smudge. Let it sit for a few minutes and rinse it with cool water. 
  • Stain remover product: Sometimes, alcohol and acidic solutions also do not show results. In that case, you can purchase nontoxic smear remover from the market. It can come in form of a stick or spray.
  • Vinegar and baking soda: Baking soda is a natural stain remover. You need to mix water and vinegar in a bucket and soak the garment for 30 minutes. Make a mixture of equal parts of baking soda and vinegar. Put the paste onto the stain and rub it in a circular motion. Let it sit for 5 minutes and rinse it with water.

How To Get Printer Ink Out Of The Clothes

It is common to have printer ink mishaps in your workplace. While replacing a printer cartridge, its ink can spill on your clothes. 

It is better to deal with it before it sets into the fabric. Place a clean towel beneath the stained garment. Start by dabbing the ink with a clean cloth. Keep repeating it until there is no more ink sticking to the cloth. Use alcohol-based cleaning methods like hairspray or nail polish remover on the damaged part. Press the towel until the stain transfers to the cloth. After the stain is successfully removed, machine washes it as usual.

Warning: If the printer ink spills on your skin, wash immediately with soap and water. If irritation prevails, obtain medical help.

Removing Old Ink Stains

When the smudge enters too deep into the fibers. It will be tough to get rid of the spot. In case all of the above methods did not show any results. 

  • You can depend on commercial stain remover products. There are products specially designed to remove any kind of ink spots. Follow the label instructions and you are good to go.
  • The spot remover sprays can show the immediate effect to remove set-in ink stains. You can simply spray the product and blot the stain. Rinse the cloth and wash it as usual.
  • If rubbing alcohol did not remove the stains from your leather garment. You can buy products to remove it. You can purchase it from hardware stores. 
  • Suede clothing is a delicate material. You can try gently scrubbing the suede with sandpaper without damaging the material. Use mild soap water and a soft toothbrush to scrub the stain after that. Wipe it clean cloth lastly.
  • In the case of white-colored clothing, you can mix bleach, hot water, and detergent. Apply the mixture and let it sit overnight. 
  • If any of the above methods do not work, you can give it to professional laundry and dry cleaning.