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How Can I Get Ink Stains Out of Clothing?

Ink stains on your clothing? Don’t worry – this article gives several easy strategies for getting rid of tough ink stains. Read on for stain removal tips!


How Can I Get Ink Stains Out of Clothing

Reading time: 5 minutes

Ink stains from pens and markers can often seem like a nightmare to get out of clothing – especially since, in many cases, a standard washing machine cycle just doesn’t cut it. Although the stain may fade in a normal wash, there’s likely to be a constant reminder of the ink leak, particularly on white and light coloured garments. Ink stains do need special attention, but removing them is not an impossible task! Here’s a few ways to quickly and easily remove these stubborn stains – and always remember to test any product you are using for stain removal on a small piece of the fabric first, like on the cuff or hem of the garment.

It’s a good idea to follow up stain removal by placing the item in the washing machine with a laundry detergent that has stain removing properties, like OMO Liquid.  This will help to ensure your garment comes out the wash looking as good as new! Always check the label on your item to ensure it is safe to machine wash.

Cleaning Water-Based Ink Stains

Water-based inks rarely cause much of a problem. As these inks are made up primarily of water, they’re very easy to wash out of clothing and other materials like carpets or curtains.

  • Lay the garment onto a thick cloth or towel – anything that will absorb water.

  • Apply a small amount of laundry detergent directly onto the stain, gently massaging it into the material.

  • Dab water onto the stain using a cloth or sponge. The stain should start to break down.

  • Wash the garment as normal, using hot water if possible, although this isn’t recommended for delicate fabrics.

Tackling More Stubborn Stains

Permanent marker inks are much more challenging to wash out of clothing than water-based inks, but it can be done. It simply requires a bit more care and a selection of different products and materials. There are commercial products available in stores that are effective at removing ink stains, but you could also try one of these alternative methods:

  • Try saturating the stain with nail polish remover. Only use this on hardwearing fabrics, and remember to test a small area of fabric first.

  • Spritz hairspray onto a stain and leave to dry before putting in the washing machine. The chemicals in the spray will help to break down the ink, making it easier to dissolve in the wash.

Treating Stains on Delicate Materials

With very delicate materials – such as 100 percent cotton, silk, and woollens – you don’t want to use harsh chemicals that can damage the vulnerable fabrics. Instead, try some natural remedies for removing tough stains.

  • Mix equal parts lemon juice and gentle laundry detergent together and apply to the stain. Leave the mixture to sit for a couple of hours before washing the garment in cold water.

  • Try using fresh milk to clear up any ink stains. Use cold milk for blotting up water-based stains and warm milk as a pre-wash soak.

  • If you’re unsure about tackling stain removal on delicate fabrics, seek advice from a professional dry cleaner.

Tips to Make Removing Stains Easier

To make cleaning up ink stains easier and quicker, be sure to follow these simple guidelines:

  • Try to treat the stain as soon as possible after the ink has leaked. If the ink is fresh, and still wet, it will come out of clothing much easier than if it has had time to dry into the fibres.

  • Don’t rub at ink stains – rather than removing the stain, this action can cause it to spread. Instead, dab at the stain carefully to minimise spreading and reduce damage to the material.

  • Before drying clothes in a dryer, take a careful look to ensure the stain has been removed. If a garment is heat-dried prematurely, the heat can cause the stain to set. If the stain hasn’t been completely removed, repeat the cleaning process until the fabric is clear.

  • Act fast!

  • Test any cleaning product on an inconspicuous section of the stained item before treating the whole stain.

  • Dab ink stains – rubbing could cause the stain to spread.

Originally published