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How to remove ink stains

Wondering how to remove ink stains from your favourite shirt? Follow our expert tips to remove ink from clothes.



Ink stains can be a common occurrence on your work shirt or kids’ clothes. This article will show you how to remove ink stains in the most effective manner.

As for most stains, it’s easier to remove ink stains when you act fast. Use salt or a clean cloth to avoid spreading the stain.

Act fast to remove ink stains effectively

As with all stains, the quicker the treatment, the better. If you’re able to catch the stain the moment it occurs, the chances of removing it altogether are far higher. If you have salt immediately to hand, pour some on the stain and allow to stand for several minutes. Wipe the salt away using a dry cloth. If the stain is fresh but the salt is nowhere to be found, follow these few steps:

  • Take a rag or old cloth and place on the underside of the stain.

  • Gently blot the stain with another cloth. Avoid rubbing, as this can cause the stain to stick.

  • Keep dabbing the stain until no more ink can be lifted.

  • Turn the garment inside out and repeat the process, this time dabbing the underside of the stain-affected area. When no more ink can be lifted, it’s time to stop blotting!

How to get ink out of clothes: water-based ink

There are several different ways to remove ink from clothes. The most effective way to remove ink stains will depend on the fabric and the kind of ink used. The easiest to remove are ink stains of the water-based variety, such as washable markers. Follow these few steps to know how to get ink out of a shirt when it’s water-based:

  • Providing the ink is water-based, the best way to get ink out of a shirt made of a reasonably sturdy material is to use the blotting technique described above, only this time using a damp cloth and a laundry detergent such as Omo Purpose with warm water.

  • Soak the cloth in the detergent solution, then blot the garment as directed above. If the stain doesn’t start to lift, pour a small amount of concentrated detergent directly onto the stain, and allow to sit for around 5 minutes.

  • Wash the garment on the hottest setting the fabric can withstand. Always read the fabric label first. If the stain remains, repeat the above step.

How to get ink out of fabric: permanent markers

If the stain is not water-based, you’re in for a challenge. Permanent ink is called permanent for a reason. The best way to approach a permanent ink stain is to use rubbing alcohol. Follow these tips to know how to get ink out of clothes when it’s permanent:

  • Test the effect of alcohol on an unseen area of fabric. With delicate fabrics, alcohol can cause colours to run.

  • If the colour holds, blot the stain as described above, but this time dabbing the cloth in rubbing alcohol.

  • Repeat until the stain lifts or fades, then rinse the area with cold water. Several rinses may be required to completely remove the ink stain and alcohol.

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol on hand, try nail varnish or hairspray with a high alcohol content. Repeat the above steps, but spray or apply the polish instead of dabbing with alcohol. Be careful to check that the products do not have any adverse effects on the fabric by testing on an unseen seam first.

How to remove ink stains with natural household remedies?

If you’d rather not use alcohol or hairspray, you can also remove ink stains with milk. Soak the garment in a milk bath (not an actual bath – a small bucket should do the trick!) and leave to soak overnight. With some fabrics, the milk will cause the stain to fade. You can then wash the garment with your usual detergent like Omo Purpose.

Another homemade solution involves vinegar and corn-starch. Mix white wine vinegar with corn-starch with a 2:3 ratio until it forms a paste. Spread the paste on the affected area, and work into the fabric. Leave overnight, then launder as normal.

Now you know how to remove ink stains, your white shirt will be as good as new!

how to remove ink from clothing

* Act fast to remove ink stains effectively

  • Gently blot the stain to remove excess

  • Wash with your usual detergent such as Omo Purpose

  • Use rubbing alcohol to get rid of permanent market stains

  • Milk and vinegar are natural household remedies to remove ink from clothes

Originally published