Removing Ink Stains from Cotton

Written by Karen Bates (last updated November 1, 2021)

It is unfortunate, but all too common: you are using a pen and accidentally end up writing on the fabric of your cotton clothes. Even if you throw your clothing directly in the washing machine, it may not come out completely. So what are you supposed to do?

It is very irritating to think that something as simple as a line from your pen can be so hard to get out of your cotton clothes, but it isn't necessarily impossible to do. There are a few cleaning methods that you can try that may get the stain out, and many of them involve products that you may already have handy in your home:

  • Hair Spray. Try spraying some aerosol hairspray right onto the stain. Scrub at the stain, then rinse with cold water and throw in the wash. Repeat if needed.
  • Nail Polish Remover. Soak the stained area of the garment in a bowl of nail polish remover. It should help to take the ink out of the fabric after soaking for a while. After, use a brush to scrub at the stain with some soapy water. If it doesn't come out at first, try the process again. You may also want to try rubbing alcohol this way. Just to be safe, you may want to test how the fabric reacts to acetone polish remover before attempting to remove the stain.
  • Bleach Pen. These pens are a convenient way to help remove stains. They are especially useful if you find that you have stained your clothing with ink and aren't at home. Draw with the pen over the stain, following the directions on the package.
  • Prewash Spray. Before you wash the stained cotton clothing, it can be helpful to pre-treat the clothing before putting it in the washer. Follow the product's directions, spraying on the stained area and letting it sit the proper amount of time before washing. This increases the chances of the stain coming out.
  • Stain Removing Products. There are many products on the market that you can try. These are all formulated for removing spots and stains effectively, but they may not work for all stains or on all fabrics. Read the instructions on these products carefully to ensure you do not damage your clothes.

It is important to take care of ink stains on your cotton clothes as soon as possible. This will give you a better chance of removing the stain completely. Do not put the clothing through the dryer until the stain has been removed completely or it may set in for good. Also, keep in mind that some stains cannot be removed at home and may require a professional to get out.

Author Bio

Karen Bates

An English student who enjoys writing and art, Karen has had her poetry published in her university's literary journal and has several novels in the works. ...


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