Cleaning Tips on How To Remove Ink Stains


Oh, no! You just pulled out your ball point pen and jotted some hasty notes prior to a meeting when you look down and discover that somehow, you managed to graze your white blouse with the business end of the pen. There’s a long black streak of ink smack dab across the bust.

If you watch commercials on TV, chances are you’ll have seen a similar commercial for the Tide Bleach Pen Gel stick. The commercial reminds me of the old game show where the host asks the audience if someone has something uncommon or bizarre in their pocket or purse – like “Does anyone have a dirty white sock with them today?”

In this case, after the lady has discovered the ink stain on her blouse, she reaches into her purse and pulls out the bleach gel pen and effectively removes the stain just moments before getting up to speak. No many of us are that prepared but it’s good to know there is a product that might work in cases like that.

Homemade Ink Stain Remover Recipe:

There’s another product that’s been around a long time carried by Redox Brands. It’s Biz Stain Activated Booster and it works well on ink stains and other set in stains. Some stain removal experts recommend a brew of Biz and boiling water.

Be sure you do NOT try this on any fabric that cannot be washed with hot water.

  1. 3/4 to 1 cup Biz
  2. 2 gallons or more of water
  3. Bring to boil

Use your largest stainless steel pot, stock or soup kettle. Fill to about 3 inches from the top with water and bring to a boil. Stir in 3/4 to 1 cup of Biz. When it is dissolved, turn the heat to simmer and drop your ink stained blouse or other washable garment into the simmering pot.

Allow to “cook” at a simmer for about an hour, then turn the burner off and let the whole thing cool. After the brew has cooled, pour the whole thing into your clothes washer and run the fabric through a normal wash cycle. By “normal” we mean the wash cycle recommended by the clothing manufacturer.

Cleaning Steps For Ink Stain Removal:

The Cardinal Rule for removing ink stains is to work fast and attack the stain before it has a chance to absorb into the fibers of the fabric. That’s not always possible – you don’t normally carry the stain removing pen in your pocket or purse. We’ve given you several ideas for commercial and environmentally friendly ink stain removing. Here are a couple more that don’t exactly fall into those two categories but are still common solutions to removing ink stains from fabric.

Hair Spray-

When that ink stain appears magically on your blouse, shoes, or other light colored fabric, leather, or vinyl, grab your hair spray and squirt it directly on the stain. Allow it to sit for a moment – don’t let it dry completely out. Then rub with a tissue or paper towel. The ink stains should come off. If not, re-wet with the hair spray and add a few drops of liquid detergent (clear) to the stain. Rub between your fingers, then rinse in lukewarm water.

Nail Polish Remover-

Nail polish remover is not something we commonly consider for ink stains on fabric. However, it’s a great alternative for set-in ink stains as it goes right to work at loosening the pigments of the ink and causing them to release into a more soluble form. After you’ve wet the stain with nail polish remover, add a few drops of clear liquid detergent and rub between your fingers. Rinse well and launder to remove traces of the polish remover and ink stains.

Earth Friendly Ink Stain Removers:

If you would like to try something more natural to remove the stain, there are plenty of nontoxic and earth friendly stain removers that fall into this category including:

  • Butter
  • Cornstarch
  • Milk
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Shortening
  • Sandpaper
  • Toothpaste
  • Vinegar

Wow! That’s a boatload of environmentally friendly stain removers and also things that you have around the house. No need to rush to the store to buy an expensive, commercially prepared product or chemical.

It’s Always Better with Butter!

If you get an ink stain on light colored vinyl like some book bags, totes or a purse, rub the stain with butter and sit it in a sunny place – preferably out of doors for a couple of days. The oil in the butter will soften the stain, then the combination of salt and sunlight works wonders on drawing the ink stain out. You might try this on other fabrics as well, such as cotton or denims. When you launder the material, work liquid detergent into the oil left by the butter.

Cornstarch And Milk? How Corny Can You Get!

Yes, it’s true. Mix cornstarch with milk to make a paste. Put the paste on the ink stain and let it dry, then brush it off. This works on carpets and you can just vacuum up the dried paste; hopefully, all of the ink stain will be vacuumed up. If not, repeat the process.

Alcohol – Not Just a Breakfast Drink?

Hah, just kidding. We’re talking about rubbing alcohol anyway and it’s good for what ails you in the ink stain removal department. This is advice for washable fabrics. Dip the stain in rubbing alcohol to saturate; work in a few drops of liquid detergent (dish or laundry) and rub together with your fingers to loosen the ink stain. Then launder the item according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

The Many Uses For Toothpaste!

I’ve always favored paste over gel style toothpastes and in researching stain removal, I’ve uncovered a whole new use for toothpaste. Again, using the white paste variety instead of gel, toothpaste is great for removing ink stains from washable fabrics, etc. Just apply the toothpaste to the stain and rub between your knuckles. Then run though a wash cycle.

Sandpaper For Ink Stains?

Now That’s A Rub! It is if you’ve got an ink stain on your suede leather jacket! All leather clothing is expensive to dry clean so it’s worth a try to spot clean stains when it’s possible. For an ink stain in a conspicuous place on your suede jacket or pants or shoes, use a fine grain sandpaper and, using a light tough, gently buff the stain. Then dip an old toothbrush in white vinegar and lightly scrub the stain, allow to dry. Using a suede brush or a clean old toothbrush, brush the suede to roughen up the nap.


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