The Basics of Removing Ink Stains

The Basics of Removing Ink Stains

Nothing can ruin your day like having an ink pen explode all over you. Removing ink stain messes from clothing (or other surfaces) is not easy. But don’t despair- you don’t have to throw out your favorite shirt. There are some ways you can learn about removing ink stain problems for good.

Here’s another important tip when dealing with all stains: never heat or dry the stained item until you are absolutely sure all of the ink has been lifted.  Heat sets stains and using hot water or drying something in the clothes dryer can make the stain permanent and impossible to get out.

Know The Type of Ink You Are Dealing With:

The first step to removing an ink stain is to know what kind of ink it was.

Ink typically falls into one of two categories; water based and permanent. As you may think from the names, the water based inks are easier to remove and the permanent can be very difficult.

Water Based Inks-

Removing water based ink is much easier than other types of ink. Plain water may literally wash the stain away. These are the easy inks to clean up. Types include:

  • Children’s Markers
  • Eraseable Ink Pens
  • Magic Markers
  • Ink Stamps
  • Highlighters
  • Calligraphy Ink

Potential Cleaning Methods:

1.  One method definitely worth trying is to place the stained area on a clean white towel. Apply plain water to the stain. Blot the ink stain with another clean, white towel. Do not rub. This should remove the stain as you are blotting.

2.  Another idea to try is to put a little bit of your normal laundry detergent directly onto the ink stain. Let this sit for a few minutes and then wash the clothing piece in the warmest water you can (depending on fabric). When you pull it out of the wash, look to see if the stain is gone before drying. If not, repeat the steps.

Permanent Non-Water Based Ink-

These are the harder types of ink to remove. Inks include:

  • Sharpies
  • Permanent Markers
  • Standard Ink Pens

Potential Cleaning Methods:

1.  One of the first things you might want to try to remove permanent ink stains from clothing is rubbing alcohol. Place the article of clothing on a clean white towel and pour the rubbing alcohol on the stain. Blot the clothing and the ink should go through to the towel beneath. Continue this until the stain is completely gone but remember to move the clothing to a clean part of the towel so you don’t get the stain right back on it.

2.  Another trick to try is using fingernail polish remover. Non-acetone type is best. Test it on colors in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t remove the color of the clothing. Do it the same way you would with the alcohol.

3.  Stain sticks, gels and other stain remover products can also be tried and some find them successful, especially if the stain is fresh.

Steps To Take To Remove an Ink Stain:

If you have children, you probably know that ink stains happen and that they can be pretty tough to get out. Magic Markers, ink pens, permanent pens, ink stamps and more can all end up on clothing.

The sad truth is that many ink stains are permanent.  However, if you catch it when it’s fresh, you have a much better chance of getting it out with one of the methods we mention here.

Act Fast-

There’s no time to waste when ink is spilled.  The longer it has to penetrate the fibers of your fabric, the harder it is going to be to get out. 

Apply Stain Remover-

If you are lucky enough to have hairspray on hand, give the spot a quick coating to help keep it from setting until you can get home and treat it properly.

Rubbing alcohol too can be used to lift a ink stain quickly. Small stains can be dabbed with alcohol; but larger stains will likely need the rubbing alcohol poured right onto it.

Never Rub-

Rubbing an ink spot will do two things: make it set into the fibers of the fabric and spread, becoming a bigger mess to deal with.  Neither of these things is good. That is why you should always dab at an ink stain; never rub it!

Other Cleaning Solutions To Try:

Unfortunately, not all ink stains happen on clothing which makes them even harder to remove. What do you do when you get magic marker on your wall or ink pen on your couch?  Removing ink stain problems from other surfaces can be tricky but it can be done.

  • To get ink stains off your hands, try some Lava soap.
  • De-greaser products like Goop can remove permanent ink stains from skin as well.
  • To remove ink from painted walls and other household surfaces, try hair spray.
  • You can also remove ink stains from walls and similar surfaces by applying toothpaste. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and then wipe clean.
  • From surfaces that will not be damaged by alcohol, try dabbing some rubbing alcohol directly on the stain. Allow to sit for a while and then wipe clean or put the item in the washer. It should come out stain-free.
  • If your ink stain is on a colored fabric, try soaking it in milk overnight and then wash in the washer.
  • To remove ink stains from white material, try using salt and lemon juice. Mix the lemon juice and salt to create a paste. Then rub it in the stain and let it sit for awhile.
  • Nail polish remover can help remove ink stains from tiles and floors and sometimes from certain types of walls. Be careful of painted walls, the polish remover can strip the paint.
  • Baking soda mixed with a little water works to remove ink stains from many surfaces that can’t be thrown into the washer such as your couch or car upholstery.