How to Remove Ink Stains with Hairspray

How to Get Ink Out of Clothes with Hairspray

Had a fight with a biro recently and now you’ve got ink on your outfit? Yep, it’s not a good look!

There is however light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Nan’s wisdom-filled words about “using hairspray to remove ink from clothes”!

But has this years old tale stood the test of time, and will hairspray really get rid of ink from clothes? Find out this and more below!


Can You Use Hairspray to Remove Ink from Clothes?

Below you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to use hairspray to clean ink stains off clothes.

However, just before you dive in it’s important that you know that this type of treatment might not work out as successfully as you’d like, even if Nan told you it absolutely would!

The ingredients in hairspray have changed, meaning it’s no longer as effective at removing ink as it used to be.

Years ago, hairspray manufacturers used to add a lot of ethanol to hairspray. And it was this alcohol content that used to break down stains, like ink. Skip to modern day, and manufacturers don’t really do this anymore.

As you’d expect, new and improved formulas have been created over the years, and as a result, a lot of hairsprays don’t contain alcohol or they contain very little of it.

New and improved hairspray recipes that contain very little denatured alcohol aren’t very effective at removing ink from clothes because they can’t break the contents of the stain down.

So, if you’re going to use the hairspray treatment, you’ve got to pick a hairspray that contains alcohol, and a generous amount of it too!

If you decide to use a hairspray with very little alcohol in it, it might not work very well, and you’d have to repeat the treatment process several times over to remove the ink stain.

In a lot of cases, it’s better to try an alternative treatment, and you can learn more about these later on. But for now, let’s run with Nan’s advice and try out the hairspray method!


tips in removing ink with hairspray

Tips to Remember When Cleaning Ink with Hairspray

When cleaning any kind of ink off a piece of clothing you should remember these points:

  • When treating stains with hairspray you must use a hairspray that contains denatured alcohol. If you don’t buy the right hairspray, it’ll have little to no effect on the ink stain. It’s the denatured ethanol that breaks down the stain, so it’s an essential ingredient.
  • Act fast! The faster you react to the stain the better your chances are of actually removing the stain in its entirety.
  • Try not to spread the ink about, especially if the ink in question is fresh. You want to limit how much ink damage you’ve got to handle!
  • Blot your clothes! Don’t scrub your items because this drives the stain deeper into the fabric’s fibres.
  • Before you clean the ink of your item of clothing, check its care label to find out what products you can/cannot use. On the tag you’ll also learn about how to wash the garment properly, and this information will come in handy later in the cleaning process.
  • Don’t rush in and use the hairspray haphazardly on your item. Instead, test it out first. The easiest way to do this is to turn your garment inside out, and dab some hairspray onto an inner seam. This patch test will tell you if the hairspray is going to damage/do nothing to your item. If the hairspray reacts badly with your item of clothing, you need to stop using it to treat your garment immediately.
  • Make sure you’ve removed the entire inky stain before you dry your stained item. Heat sets stains and makes them difficult to remove.
  • Take your time when treating the ink stain.
  • You might have to treat your item with hairspray a few times to remove the whole ink stain.
  • If you see ‘Dry clean only’ on the item’s tag, you must stick to this advice. Treating the item with hairspray could cause irreparable damage to it.


How to Get Ink of Clothes with Hairspray

remove ink from clothes with hairspray

If you’ve got oil-based ink or a permanent marker ink on an item, the method below will help you remove the mark!

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that these stains can be tricky to remove in some cases, so be patient and don’t rush through the process below.

Tools you will need:

  • White cotton cloths
  • Cold water
  • Stained item
  • Hairspray that contains alcohol
  • Detergent
  • Washing machine
  • Old towel

Steps to follow:

  1. Grab a white cotton cloth and start dabbing the ink stain. This’ll remove any excess ink.
  2. Turn your item inside out, so the inner seam is showing.
  3. Spray a small amount of hairspray (containing alcohol) onto the seam.
  4. Wait a few minutes to see if the hairspray has an adverse effect on the material.
  5. Continue with this method if there’s no issue. Stop if you see any discoloration or damage.
  6. Slot an old towel up behind the stain. This’ll stop any hairspray/ink from going through the material.
  7. Spray a generous amount of hairspray over the entire stain.
  8. Grab a clean white cloth and start blotting at the treated area.
  9. As you blot, you’ll notice the cloth changing colour as it picks up the ink from your clothing. Just remember to use a new patch of cloth each time, otherwise you’ll reapply the ink to the treated area.
  10. Repeat Steps 7 and 8 until the whole stain has been removed.
  11. When the stain has gone, flush the treated area with cold water.
  12. Before adding your item to the washer, cover the treated area with some detergent.
  13. Add the item of clothing to the wash, and launder it according to the washing instructions on the care label.
  14. Remember to check your item over for ink stains once it’s been washed. If you do see a slight stain, treat it again!
  15. When the stain has gone, you can dry the garment.

Note: This method isn’t suitable for delicate materials, like silk, wool, leather and cashmere. To clean ink off these materials, you’ll need to use a specialised cleaner that is designed for the material you need to clean. Alternatively, you could ask a dry cleaner for help.


Alternatives to Hairspray for Removing Ink from Cloth

products to remove ink from clothes

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can be used in the same way as hairspray. To use it, follow the steps listed above, but swap the hairspray for rubbing alcohol.

This method is arguably better because you know for definite that it contains alcohol, which is a key ingredient when it comes to breaking down ink stains. It can also be used to treat older stains as an added bonus.


Bicarbonate of soda

Some ink stains can be lifted off clothes by bicarbonate of soda, but not all can.

If you want to give this method a try, just mix some bicarbonate of soda and water together until you get a paste.

Once you’ve got a paste you can spread it over the ink stain. You can leave the paste on the item for a few minutes, and then you can blot the treated area with a damp cloth to remove the ink!

You’ll have to repeat the steps above a few times to remove the entire ink stain. And if you aren’t having much luck with this method after a few tries, you should try an alternative treatment!


White vinegar

White vinegar has a very good reputation in the cleaning world. But when it comes to removing ink stains, white vinegar has mixed reviews. Sometimes it can remove stains but other times it can’t.

If you fancy giving this a go, follow this method:

  1. Fill a clean bucket with one part white vinegar and one part cold water.
  2. Pop your item, ink side down in the solution.
  3. Leave the item in the mixture for ten minutes.
  4. Remove the item from the water and blot at the stain with a white cloth – the stain should lift off the material.
  5. Blot the stain a few times and then pop the item back in the water for another ten minutes.
  6. Repeat Steps 3 to 5 until the stain has gone.
  7. Launder the item as normal.

Note: If you’ve repeated the steps above a few times, and the stain hasn’t really moved off the material, you need to think about using another treatment. It’s unlikely that the white vinegar is going to remove the ink in this scenario.


Specialised products for ink stain removal

Specialised products

If you don’t fancy trying your hand at a homemade recipe, you could just buy an ink stain remover from your local shop. Check out some of these items:

  • Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils Pen & Ink can be used to treat a variety of inks, as well as mishaps created by other stationery items, including crayon! The easy to apply stain remover gets to work breaking down ink stains in as little as three minutes!
  • HG Stain Away 6 can also be used to treat several ink-related problems. It can be used on a variety of fabrics, and gets to work in around 10 minutes of you applying the treatment.


Dry cleaning

professional dry cleaning

If you’ve got ink on a delicate item, a ‘dry clean only’ garment, a family heirloom, or a vintage piece, you should take your item to a dry cleaning shop to get the stain removed.

Cleaning said item at home could do more harm than good to it. So, instead of risking ruining the garment, ask a professional for help.

After all, a dry cleaner will have access to different tools and solutions, and they can tailor the cleaning experience to suit your piece!

A quick online search will bring up dry cleaners near you. Just make sure that you pick a reputable company, and, ideally, you should choose someone who has experience in lifting ink stains off materials like the one you have.