How to Get Ink out of Clothes

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How to Get Ink out of Clothes

As the saying goes, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” However, sometimes, the ink is mightier than the soap. It is annoying enough when we get ink stains on our hands, because ink stains can be one of the toughest stains to remove from shirts, pants, and jackets. However, you should not write off proven methods for getting out stubborn ink stains. Many of them are quite effective.

Required Materials

  • Acetone
  • Baking soda
  • Cotton swabs
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Fingernail polish remover
  • Hairspray
  • Paper towels
  • Sponges
  • Stain gel
  • Stain removers
  • Stain spray
  • Stain sticks

Instructions to Remove Ink from Clothes

Ink Stain Tips. When ink from a pen stains your clothing, it is vital that you take action quickly. The longer your clothing remains untreated, the less likely it is that you can remove the stain. In addition, some clothing can only be treated by expensive dry cleaning and only professionals should handle certain fabrics.

Ballpoint Pen Basics. When ballpoint pens create an ink stain on clothing, certain steps should be taken to remove it. Use a clean wet sponge to blot the stain. Do this until the sponge is no longer lifting ink from the stain. Next, let the stain on the clothing air-dry. Afterwards, spray the ink stain with some hairspray. Then use two paper towels to sandwich the soiled fabric. Next, dab the ink-stained clothing’s backside, to blend the stain into the second paper towel. Perform this procedure repeatedly until the stain has been removed. The next step is to place a pre-treatment stain remover onto the stain. Finally, wash the clothing in warm water and then air-dry it.

Felt Tip Tips. A different procedure should be used when a felt tip pen stains your clothing. First, press a paper towel onto the stain to remove most of the ink. Next, use a cotton swab to add denatured alcohol to the stain. Denatured alcohol is alcohol that has been made toxic or undrinkable. Finally, clean the fabric in the normal manner.

Making Permanent Temporary. Permanent inks and markers create some of the most difficult stains to remove and require a special approach. Keep in mind that if a cloth or pattern cannot be bleached, removing the ink stain will be nearly impossible to accomplish. Your first option is the method using two towels, mentioned in the ballpoint pen section. If the stain remains, use fingernail polish remover. When using the “two-towel” method previously described, use fingernail polish remover as a substitute for the denatured alcohol. Transfer the stained section to a clean, dry towel. Then completely rinse the affected area of the clothing. You could also use acetone, although this chemical does not function well on several types of fabrics. Use the same “two-towel” procedure. Again, remember to rinse the section completely. Another option is to rub a mixture of baking soda and water onto the ink stain. Yet another plan of attack is to treat the ink stain with a stain spray, gel or stick. Then wash the clothing. After washing, if the stain remains, repeat the baking soda method, and then rewash and dry the garment.

* It’s easy to get ink out of clothes, but let’s go back to the basics: do you know how to wash clothes? If you do, maybe you can move on to cleaning leather, to bring back your leather furniture’s luster. Then after that, you can learn how to clean carpets, so your flooring will always look astounding!

Removing Stains Image Gallery



  1. Melanie Rutland said,

    on February 16th, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I am a school teacher and I just wrote on myself with a black ballpoint pen. I used hand sanitizer gel and placed my clothing between two paper towels and pressed from the backside of the clothing onto the paper towel. The stain came right out.

  2. LI mom of 2 boys said,

    on October 7th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I had a pen explode and it got all over my brand new North Face fleece. Used cheap hairspray and it came right out. Unbelievable!!

  3. Micah the Moron said,

    on June 18th, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I had a big spot on some cargo shorts. I went with the hand sanitizer. It was amazing! The spot came out. I went to work on a little spot, and it spread through to the other side. Then I went to finish that and found out that there was ink everywhere inside, and the moisture from my cleaning made it all spread. I gave up. :o )

  4. shirt saver said,

    on February 18th, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Just used insect repellent to remove ink stain from cotton oxford shirt. I sprayed repellent on top of stain and used two paper towels(one underneath and one on top)to blot the stain. It took three applications with blotting and rubbing.Shirt was dry and not been washed or dried. Stain was four or five days old. Repellent has alcohol in it and it even said on the can will not damage cotton,wool or nylon. But ruins pretty much everything else like acetate,rayon,spandex,furniture finishes,leather, plastics,painted and varnished surfaces.

  5. been there said,

    on September 14th, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Hand sanitizer gel works great for removing ink stains. it is 62% Ethyl alcohol, in a gel form so you can really work it into the fabric. Just keep smooshing it between papertowl’s and it will remove the ink.

  6. Dumb Dad said,

    on June 17th, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    I dropped a ball point pen onto a brand new cotton Polo Shirt. Within 2 hours, I bought cheap hair spray and sprayed the shirt. I could see the ink actually coming off the shirt. I used a little baking soda as a mild abrasive and I can’t see the ink anymore on the light blue shirt.