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How to get ink out of clothes

If you want to know how to get ink out of clothes, you’ve come to the right place. Getting ink out of clothes is easier than you think, so read our simple step by step guide to remove ink stains from clothes in no time.

Updated By Cleanipedia Team

A white shirt with an ink stain from a pen
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Ink stains on clothes are a remarkably common occurrence. They 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 an ink stain, don’t panic. Getting ink out of clothes is actually very simple. Read on to discover our step-by-step guide for how to get ink out of clothes with ease.

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You will need
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Required Persil Bio Laundry Washing Liquid Detergent
Persil Bio Bottle
  • Laundry detergent
  • Microfibre cloth
  • Warm water
  • Rubbing alcohol

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How to remove ink from clothes: the basics

No matter what type of ink has stained your clothing, some basic rules will always apply. Here are our three top tips for how to get ink out of clothes.

  1. Treat the ink stains as soon as possible.

    Like with any tough stain – such as blood or oil – the fresher it is, the easier it will be to remove. If you allow stains to dry and become ground into the fabric, getting ink out of clothes becomes more of a challenge.

  2. Never rub or wipe an ink stain.

    Rather than removing it, rubbing a stain will 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.

  3. 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.

How to get pen out of clothes: a guide to water-based pen stain removal

Many everyday writing pens use water-based inks, and getting ink out of clothes where the stains are water-based is as easy as 1-2-3. In fact, a regular laundry detergent and warm water should be enough to remove ink stains from clothes in no time. Here's how:

  1. Blot the stain with a microfibre cloth.

    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 as this could push the stain further out into the fabric fibres.

    Step 1: Microfibre cloth blotting an ink stain on blue shirt
  2. Apply your stain remover.

    This step is particularly important for pre-treating more stubborn stains. Once you've applied your stain remover, leave for 10 minutes, or follow the instructions on the product.

  3. Blot the stain a second time.

    Pick up the microfibre 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. Wash the garment.

    Place your clothing into the washing machine, preferably by itself and wash as normal, using a good-quality detergent such as Persil. Always check the care label and use the recommended settings on your machine.

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to boil your clothes, just use the same temperature you usually would for that garment.

    Step 4: Hand putting stained blue shirt into washing machine
  5. Check the stain has been removed before drying your clothes.

    If remnants of the stain remain, follow the above steps until there is no sign of staining left on your clothing.

How to get pen ink out of clothes: a guide to removing permanent marker stains

Whilst water-based stains are easy to treat, the steps for how to get ink stains out of clothes made by a permanent marker are a little trickier. However you don't need to panic, it’s not impossible. Here's how to get these ink stains out:

  1. Start by blotting the stain.

    Use a microfibre cloth to any excess liquid.

    Avoid using paper towels, as small bits of paper could become caught in the garment’s fabric.

  2. Apply rubbing alcohol or hairspray to the stain.

    Apply rubbing alcohol, or an aerosol hairspray, directly to the stain. The alcohol in these products is an excellent choice for getting ink out of clothes because it’s effective at breaking down the oils in permanent markers. If you don't have rubbing alcohol or hairspray to hand, try using antibacterial hand wash instead.

    Always wear protective clothing when handling these substances and use them in a well-ventilated room.

    Step 2: Spraying an aerosol onto an ink stain on a shirt
  3. Wash your clothes using the recommendations on the care label.

    While the rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand wash is still wet, place your garment in the washing machine. Wash it at the usual temperature with your regular laundry detergent.

    Wash the item separately from other clothes if possible, to avoid colour transfer.

  4. As with water-based ink stains, always check the stain is fully removed before drying.

    For optimal results, we recommend you air-dry your clothing if possible.

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Now you know how to get ink stains out in just a few simple steps. Once you realise how easy getting ink out of clothes is, disaster can be swiftly averted, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. So relax! The next time a pen leaks or a felt tip smudges: with these quick tips for how to remove ink stains from clothes, you have it sorted.

Frequently asked questions on how to get ink stains out

How do I get ink out of clothes after drying?

Did you know that heat can actually set a stain, making it far more difficult to remove? If you want to remove ink stains from clothes you’ve already washed and dried, use a good quality stain remover from the supermarket. 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!

How do I remove ink stains from other surfaces like my sofa?

It’s not just your clothes which can fall foul of pen ink stains, and the steps for how to get ink stains out of sofas and other upholstery are simple. Surprisingly enough, liquid soap should be your go to. Mix up a solution of warm water and liquid hand soap, then use the soapy liquid and a sponge to dab away the ink stain.

How can I remove ink stains from my skin?

If a pen has leaked in your shirt or trouser pocket, it could lead to stains on your skin as well as your clothes. In most cases, ink stains on skin can be removed with soap and water. If the stain is proving stubborn, soap a cotton pad or ball in isopropyl alcohol and gently clean away the ink stain.

Originally published