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How to Get Ink Out of Clothes in 5 Steps

Removing ink stains can seem tricky, but it’s not impossible! From water-based ink to permanent markers, read on to for top stain removal tips!



Ink stains on clothes are a remarkably common occurrence, and can happen in a variety of ways, from unwittingly carrying a leaky pen in your pocket, to letting kids run wild with felt tip pens. If you do fall victim to the dreaded ink stains, don’t panic. Ink stain removal is actually very simple: all you need is a good ink remover, a little time, and the following useful tips on removing ink stains. Here’s what you need to know:

Treating the stain as quickly as possible is important when you spill ink. If the stain happens when you’re not at home, be sure to gently blot the area straight away with a clean cloth. As soon as you get home follow the suggested methods for the type of ink spilt to remove the stain before it can set, and then wash as normal with a good quality laundry detergent like OMO Liquid.

How to Remove Ink Stains from Water-Based Pens in 5 Steps

Many everyday writing pens use water-based inks, and these are incredibly easy to remove from clothing. In fact, in many cases you don’t even need a dedicated ink remover, as regular laundry detergent and warm water should get the ink stains right out. For more stubborn stains, you might consider using a pre-treatment before putting soiled clothes through the washing machine.

  1. When removing ink stains that have pooled on a garment, use a washable microfibre cloth to blot the mark. Don’t be tempted to wipe or scrub: just blot until the ink dries and stops transferring off.
  2. If the stain is very big, use a water-based stain remover to help break down the ink stains. Leave for 10 minutes, or follow the instructions on the product.
  3. Pick up the cloth again to blot your stain. You should find that you are able to remove even more of the stain now that the pre-treatment has had time to work.
  4. Place the garment in the washing machine, preferably by itself. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to boil your clothes, just use the same temperature you usually would for that garment.
  5. Ensure that the ink stains are gone before drying. If remnants of the stain remain, blot, treat, and wash once more.

Remember: tackle water-based stains with water.

Removing Ink Stains Made by Permanent Marker Pens: a 4-Step Guide

Wondering how to get ink out of clothes if it hasn’t come from a water-based pen? This is, indeed, a little trickier; but it’s not impossible. Permanent markers and similar pens use oil-based inks, which means water and detergent won’t do much to remove them. What you need is an ink remover that can break down the oils in the ink stains, making them easier to lift off.

  1. Once again, begin by blotting the stain and removing any excess liquid. It’s important to use a microfibre cloth rather than paper towels, as small bits of paper could become caught in the garment’s fabric.
  1. Apply rubbing alcohol, or an aerosol hairspray, directly to the stain. The alcohol in these products is an excellent ink remover because it’s very effective at breaking down the oils in permanent markers. Some people also find that an antibacterial hand wash is good alternative. Always wear protective clothing when handling these substances and use them in a well-ventilated room.
  1. While the rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand wash is still wet, place your garment in the washing machine, and wash it at the usual temperature with your regular laundry detergent. Again, wash the item separately from other clothes if possible, to avoid colour transfer.

How to Remove Ink from Clothes after Drying

One of the most important things to remember when removing ink stains is that heat can actually set the stain, making it far more difficult to remove. This is why it’s vital to always check that the stain has been completely removed from the garment before it dries.

Accidents can happen, though, and stained clothes sometimes get put through the dryer. If this is the case, use a good quality stain remover from the supermarket to tackle the stain. You can apply it as a pre-treatment, and add some to your wash too. It might take a few tries to get it all out, but it will happen if you persevere!

3 Top Tips for Treating Ink Stains

Make removing ink stains easier by following these steps:

  • Treat the ink stains as soon as possible. The fresher the stain, the easier it will be to remove. It’s when the ink stains dry and become ground into the fabric that removing them becomes more of a challenge.
  • Never rub or wipe an ink stain. Rather than removing it, you’ll simply spread it around the garment, soiling more of the material. Blotting is the best way, as it removes the stain, while protecting the rest of the clothing.
  • Slow down the process. Apart from alcohol-based solutions that should be put through the wash while they’re still wet, other types of ink remover actually need time to work. Always read the instructions on the packaging, and leave the solution on the stain for the correct amount of time.

With your ink stain easily removed, and disaster swiftly averted, you can breathe a sigh of relief. So relax the next time a pen leaks or a felt tip smudges: with these quick tips, you have it sorted.

  • Act fast. The quicker you tackle a fresh stain, the easier it will be to remove.
  • Blot, don’t rub – this can cause the stain to spread.
  • Avoid heat. Do not put your garment in the dryer if the stain has not been completely removed as heat can set an ink stain, making it harder to remove.
  • Originally published