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How to Remove Ink Stains from Clothes

Ink stains from pens & permanent markers can be a nightmare to remove! This article is full of useful tips & tricks to help you get rid of them in a flash.


A  basket with clothes inside

Ink stains on clothes are a remarkably common occurrence. From unwittingly carrying a leaky pen in your pocket, to letting kids run wild with felt tip pens – they can happen in a variety of ways. If you do find yourself with an ink stain – don’t panic. Ink stain removal is actually very simple: all you need is a good ink remover, a little time, and the following tips. 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, gently blot the area straight away with a clean cloth. As soon as you get home, follow the suggested methods, and then wash as normal with a good quality laundry detergent like Breeze.

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.

How to Remove Ink Stain Made by Permanent Marker Pen: A 4-Step Guide

Wondering how to remove ink stains from 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.

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  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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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 color transfer.

  4. Ensure the stain has been removed before drying. Air-dry if possible for optimal results.

How to Remove Ink Stain 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!

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: with these quick tips, you know how to remove ink stains with ease.

  • 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.

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Frequently asked questions on how to remove ink stains

How do you remove ball pen ink from a shirt?

When it comes to how to remove ball pen ink from a shirt, we recommend using rubbing alcohol. Simply place a paper towel beneath the stain and use a sponge to dab the rubbing alcohol over the stain. After around 15 minutes of soaking time the ink should have dissolved, and you can wash your shirt as normal to remove any remaining ink residue.

How do you remove gel ink from clothes?

Gel ink can create more of a permanent stain than other inks, so the steps for how to remove gel ink from clothes – whilst similar to ball pen ink – require you to put in a little extra elbow grease. First, you need to mix 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 1 cup of white vinegar. Soak the stained area with this solution for 5 minutes before pouring a small amount of salt over the stain. After a further 5 minutes, gently scrub the stain with a soft brush such as a toothbrush. Rinse the stain with warm water until you cannot see the stain anymore and wash your clothing as normal.

How do you remove printer ink from clothes?

Alcohol-based products are the best choice when it comes to learning how to remove printer ink from clothes. We recommend dabbing the stain with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

How do you remove indelible ink from clothing?

If you want to know how to remove indelible ink from clothing, we have some simple steps for you. First, add a little salt to the stain. Follow this with a mix of milk and rubbing alcohol and use your finger to massage the stain. Continue to add your milk and alcohol solution and massage with your finger until the stain has been removed. Now you can wash and wear your stain-free clothing as normal.

Originally published