Removing Ink Stains

by Amy Gordon
(last updated March 4, 2019)

Have you ever had a ballpoint pen explode in your pocket? Or do you ever accidentally swipe a pen across your pants? It can actually be easy to remove most ink stains from clothes, although the more ink there is, the more difficult it can be. Ink stains from permanent markers are among the most difficult stains to remove—a shirt or pair of pants marked with permanent marker may be stained forever.

For most inks, try spraying the stain with hairspray. Saturate the stain with the hairspray, then wash in your machine as you normally would. If the stain is on a couch or carpet, spray it with hairspray until it is saturated, and then blot it with a clean, damp cloth as quickly as possible. If the ink is on a leather couch, do not use hairspray, as the hairspray can ruin the leather.

For another method, lay the ink-stained garment on a clean white cloth. Make sure there is not a layer of fabric from the garment between the stain and the cloth—you may need to put the cloth inside a pant leg or shirt arm. Dab rubbing alcohol at the ink blot with another clean white cloth. The ink should come off the garment onto the two white cloths, so don't use your good towels for this method. As you work, move the garment to a clean spot on the cloth so that the ink doesn't bleed back onto the garment. Rinse the stained area of the garment thoroughly.

Next, on a natural blend fabric, try using nail polish remover—blot as you did with the rubbing alcohol. Once you've removed as much ink as you think is going to come off, spread a thin layer of liquid laundry detergent or a paste of dry laundry detergent and water onto the stained area. Let the detergent sit for five to ten minutes, and then wash the stained garment in the washing machine as you normally would, without rinsing off the detergent layer. Check to see that the stain has been completely removed before putting the stained article of clothing in the dryer.

If the stain is from a permanent ink pen, you may not be able to remove it. If the shirt can be bleached, that may be the easiest and fastest solution. If hairspray doesn't work, lay the garment on a clean white cloth, and use rubbing alcohol just as you did for the regular ink pens. Any ink that comes off will end up on the towels, so watch—you may need to move the garment or towel around a lot. Follow this with nail polish remover and then acetone if the fabric of the garment is not rayon or acetate. Be sure to rinse the garment thoroughly between chemicals.

Most ink stains can come out of most fabrics if you are persistent. Permanent ink marks, however, may not come out.

Author Bio

Amy Gordon

Amy Gordon loves keeping things simple, natural, and safe so she can spend more time having fun. Every day she learns new things about making life at home easier and she loves to share it with you! ...


Kill Germs with Borax

To avoid using expensive sanitizers to kill the germs in your home, you can make your own germ killer. Simply mix one cup ...

Discover More

Removing Chewing Gum

Gum will stick to anything dry, including carpets, fabric, and hair. Ice or a freezer can harden gum up and make it easy ...

Discover More

Tips for Taking Cuttings

Plant cutting is a great way to get new plants out of your old ones. Hang your cuttings in a bag of soil to protect them ...

Discover More

Tough Cleaning Jobs Require Brawny! Brawny paper towels provide the versatility you need: the strength for demanding jobs and the softness to clean up your child's messy face. This 24-roll pack of pick-a-size sheets can handle just about every cleaning task in your home. Check out Brawny 24-Pack Giant Paper Towels today!

More Cleaning Tips

Removing Permanent Marker from Vinyl

Considering how common both vinyl and permanent markers are it only stands to reason that the two will come into contact ...

Discover More

Ink Stain Remover

Ink stains are quite difficult to get out in some cases...difficult, I say, but not always impossible. Here are a few ...

Discover More

Removing Gel Ink Stains

Over the past few years gel ink pens have become an ever increasingly popular item around the country. Unfortunately, as ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is four less than 9?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in Cleaning Tips from Tips.Net. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.