Ink Stain Removal


If you’ve ever had an ink pen leak onto your clothes or perhaps gotten an ink stain from failing to remove the ink pen from your pocket before washing your clothes, you know how extremely irritating and frustrating this can be.

So much so that you may be tempted to simply throw the item away without a second glance. But what if it is brand new, or is your favorite shirt, or what if you don’t have the money to simply replace it? Well, have no fears, we are here to help you remove those icky ink stains once and for all.

1.  Solvent Cleaners:

Solvent Cleaners are my first line of defense to remove a non-water based ink stain. If you have a stain from permanent ink or ballpoint ink pen, select 1 of these solutions from whatever you have on hand:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nail polish remover
  • Hairspray
  • Turpentine

Use a clean white terrycloth washcloth to blot the affected area. Once the stain is gone, wash the item normally. If the stain is not completely removed, you can repeat the steps or try another cleaning solution below.

2.  Shampoo:

If you have a water based ink stain, another method that can be utilized to remove ink stains is a heavy duty shampoo. TO use this method:

  • Take a clean cloth or paper towel and place it directly on the ink stain
  • Saturate the area with hair shampoo
  • Let it set for about 10-15 minutes and then blot it until the stain gets lighter and lighter

You should then get a clean cloth or paper towel and a bowl of water to continue spotting the area. Once the area is clean, wash the item as usual.

3.  Dishwashing Liquid:

Dry the ink stained area and then take:

  • 2 parts of liquid dishwashing detergent
  • one part alcohol

Soak the stain for about 15 minutes then rinse the stain in hot water. Afterwards you should quickly wash the ink stained material.

4.  Hair Spray:

Another method is to take an absorbent paper towel or rag and place it directly under the stain. Saturate the stain with an alcohol-based hair spray, blot the stain with a rag or paper towel and repeat until you no longer see the stain. Wash the item as usual.

5.  Fingernail Polish Remover:

Fingernail polish remover works will on permanent ink stains. For this method: 

  • Take a white clean paper towel and put it under the stained material.l
  • Pour some finger nail polish remover onto a paper towel, or a q-tip or cotton ball and dab at the ink stain.
  • Dab from the top and watch the underside of the paper towel absorb the stain.
  • Use a new paper towel to absorb the liquid if needed as the stain is removed.

You then rinse the item thoroughly and wash it like you normally would.

If this doesn’t work, you can try acetone type of nail polish remover but with this method you’ll need to test the area first for colorfastness.

6.  Detergent and Lemon Juice:

Another method that has been highly effective in removing ink stains is the use of detergent and lemon juice. To use this method:

  • mix 1 TBL detergent with 1TBL lemon juice
  • apply on ink stain allowing the cleaning solution to completely saturate the material
  • let sit on stain for 2 hours
  • rinse in cold water
  • apply some neutral laundry detergent to the back of the stain ridden item
  • place the item under the running cold water once again, rinsing thoroughly

If any stains remain, you can retreat it again. Once you see little or no remnants of the stain, you should then wash the item normally.

7.  Rubbing Alcohol, Vinegar and Salt:

Rubbing alcohol, vinegar and salt is a very good ink solvent.

  • Take a bowl and mix up equal parts of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol with plain white vinegar.
  • Then place this mix directly on the ink stained area.
  • Repeat and then place some table salt on the stain and rinse it under hot tap water and then rinse it thoroughly.

Afterwards you should wash the item as you normally would and like magic the stain should be completely gone.

8.  All Purpose Cleaner:

Another method is to take an absorbent paper towel or rag and place it directly under the stain. Saturate the stain with all purpose cleaner, like 409 Spray, and then blot it dry with a rag or towel. You should then repeat this until you no longer see the stain. Wash the item as usual.

9.  Commercial Ink Stain Removers:

If all else fails, you can try a commercial ink stain removal product like Motsenbocker’s Lift Off. It is a biodegradable and water based product that removes most stains, including ink. It can be used on fabrics, clothes, vinyl, plastic, countertops, upholstery and more.

I’ll Bet Your Ink Stain Is Gone..

Ink is one of the worst stains to have but you can safely remove ink stains if you use solvent type cleaners, lemon, salt, hair spray or other cleaners. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s worth it in the end because these methods work. As a bonus, you’ll not only remove that icky stain but you’ll save yourself a tremendous amount of money by not having to replace the ink stained item.


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