Whether you’ve had a mishap with a leaky fountain pen or your kids have decided to scribble over your jeans with a marker pen, you need to remove the ink off your clothes as quickly as possible!
Not only are the lines unsightly, but the dye can be a pain to get rid of once it’s dried.
So, how do you remove ink from clothes? Keep on reading to find out.
A Few Tips to Remember When Removing Ink Stains
It’s worth keeping the points below in mind when removing ink from clothes:
- Act as fast as you can! It’s much easier to remove a new ink stain than an old, set-in one.
- Just blot! You shouldn’t scrub the ink stain because you’ll just push it deeper into the material’s fibres.
- Contain the ink, so you don’t transfer it onto other items of clothing or objects in your home. For example, avoid sitting on your sofa if you know you’ve got ink on your trousers!
- Always test your chosen stain removing method out first! A quick patch test can stop you from discolouring and ruining an entire garment, so don’t skip the testing phase.
- Read your item of clothing’s care label before you treat it.
- If a piece of clothing’s care label says ‘dry clean only’, stick to this advice. You could ruin your item if you tried to clean it in the traditional way.
- Do not tumble dry your item of clothing until you know for sure that all the ink has been removed. The heat from the dryer will set and dry the stain for you. This, in turn, will make it harder for you to remove the stain later on.
- Be patient, you don’t want to risk smudging and spreading the ink stain!
- When treating ink stains, pop an old towel on the back of your stain, so you stop the ink bleeding through the material, and onto the back of your garment.
- If you’ve got an ink stain on a delicate item, like silk or wool, avoid using harsh chemicals to clean the ink away. Instead use a specialised stain remover for the material, just blot the stain with cold water, or ask a professional dry cleaner for advice.
Different Types of Ink
Before you start treating an ink stain, you need to know what type of ink you’re dealing with. Once you know what ink you’ve got, you can remove it in an appropriate manner.
There are lots of different kinds of inks around, below you’ll find the most popular of them.
This type of ink is greasy in nature because it’s made up of fatty acids. It also contains dyes to give the ink its hue.
It can be tricky to remove from clothes as it is fast drying and is largely water resistant.
But with the right tools, namely alcohol or acetone, you can remove the ink from an item of clothing.
You typically see this type of ink in ballpoint pens and the ink is usually blue or black in colour.
This type of ink is largely water-based as the name suggests, so it’s not oily in nature. This is why it is sometimes easier to remove this type of ink from clothes.
Water-based ink is most commonly used in fountain pens. You typically see it in ink pots and it comes in a wealth of colours!
This type of ink is typically water-resistant, so it cannot be removed as easily from clothes. It can, however, be broken down by acetone and ethanol.
Permanent ink is normally found in marker pens, and is used for writing on various surfaces, including on cardboard boxes, plastics and woods.
How to Remove Oil-Based or Permanent Ink Stains
Oil-based and permanent ink stains are the trickiest ones to remove.
So, don’t rush the method below. And be prepared to repeat some of the steps multiple times to remove as much ink as you can form the material.
Steps to follow:
- Gently dab a tissue onto the ink stain to soak up as much ink as you can.
- Grab a solvent cleaner like rubbing alcohol, hairspray or hand sanitiser (containing alcohol). A solvent can be used early on to break down ink stains, so they are easier to remove later on.
- Test out your chosen solvent on a discreet patch of clothing. This is to make sure the clothing is colourfast and won’t be damaged by the product.
- If there aren’t any issues, proceed.
- Put an old towel under the back of the stain. This stops any liquid from seeping through.
- Apply the solvent solution of your choice to the entire stain.
- Blot at the treated area with a clean cloth. You should notice the cloth changes colour as it picks up the pigment from the fabric.
- Remove as much ink as you can. Remember to use a new patch of cloth each time you blot.
- When you’ve removed as much ink as you can, rinse the garment under cold water.
- Pre-treat the stain with laundry detergent before you wash it – massage the detergent in carefully.
- Add the item of clothing to the washing machine.
- Add a suitable detergent.
- Select a suitable cycle and temperature, and begin the wash.
- After the cycle, check the item over, and repeat steps above if you still see ink stains.
- Air dry the item of clothing.
How to Remove Water-Based Ink Stains
Water-based ink stains are usually the easiest ones to remove.
Follow the steps below:
- Pop an old towel behind the ink stain. This prevents the stain from spreading onto the rest of the item.
- Blot the ink stain with damp cloth. This will draw out the ink.
- Repeat Step 2 until you’ve removed as much ink as possible. Use a new piece of cloth each time you dab. Otherwise, you’ll end up putting the ink back on the stain.
- Spread some detergent all over the ink stain.
- Wash the item of clothing as normal.
- Check the item over when the washing cycle finishes, and repeat the steps above, if need be.
Removing Ink Stains with an Ink Stain Remover
Below you’ll find a few stain removers that could be used to get ink out of your clothes.
Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils Specialist Stain Remover
If you’re looking for a fast fix to your inky problem, but you don’t want to spend a fortune, check out Dr. Beckmann Stain Devils Specialist Stain Remover.
This 50 ml bottle from Dr. Beckmann can remove various ink-related stains, including ballpoint and felt tip ink, as well as crayon.
It’s super easy to use, you just soak your ink stain with the solution, wait a few minutes, blot the area clean and launder your garment as normal!
Amodex Ink & Stain Remover
Amodex Ink & Stain Remover is an American-made stain remover that is a touch more expensive than some other official stain removers.
It can, however, remove some of the toughest stains around, including but not limited to, ink, dye, wine and coffee.
This all-round, non-toxic, and cruelty-free stain remover can be used to treat clothes, carpets and upholstery too.
Like other treatments, Amodex is simple to use, but you must perform a patch test before you start cleaning your garment.
HG Stain Away 6 Stain Remover
HG Stain Away 6 Stain Remover can be used to remove various ink stains from different kinds of materials. It’s not too tough on fabrics and gets to work removing stains in 10 to 15 minutes.
Note: Keep in mind that some stains will require more than one treatment. Also, the products listed above do receive mixed reviews. So, consider what type of material you need to clean, then choose the most suitable stain remover for the job.
How to Remove Ink Stains with Hairspray
If you’re going to use hairspray to remove ink from an item of clothing, make sure you buy an alcohol-based hairspray.
It is the alcohol inside the spray that helps to break down the ink stain, so it’s quite an important ingredient.
To use hairspray to remove an ink stain, just spray some hairspray onto the item’s seam to do a patch test. If the spray doesn’t have any effect on the material you can continue to use it.
Next stick a towel under the stain, so any liquid (ink or hairspray) doesn’t bleed through and onto the back of the item of clothing.
When you’ve done this, spray plenty of alcohol-based hairspray onto the ink stain, and start dabbing at the area with cotton wool balls to soak up the ink.
Repeat the steps above until the ink has been removed, and then you can launder the garment.
How to Remove Ink Stains with Milk
Interestingly, it has been known for milk to lift ink stains from clothes. If you fancy giving this a go follow the steps below.
Fill a bucket with milk, pop the item of clothing in the milk and leave it for one hour. During this time the item should be completely submerged in the liquid.
Once the time has passed you can gently start brushing the ink stain with a very soft toothbrush. The brushing action should dislodge any ink from the materials fibres.
You’ll then need to remove the item from the milk, give it a quick rinse under cold water and lay it out flat.
The next step is to pre-treat the inky stain with laundry detergent. Simply massage some of your regular detergent into the mark, and then wash the item in the machine.
FAQs on Removing Ink from Clothes
Can ink be washed out of clothes?
You should generally treat an ink-stained item of clothing before you wash it, rather than putting it straight in the washing machine.
Treating the ink-stained item before laundering it means that you stand a very good chance of removing the stain entirely from the garment.
The washing phase can then be used to flush out any inky remains, and to remove cleaning solutions from the material.
If you don’t treat an ink stain pre-washing, you run the risk of spreading the ink around the garment, and onto other items in the washing machine.
Plus, the water and detergent alone may not be strong enough to remove the ink from the material, so you’ll have wasted a washing cycle.
How do you remove dried ink stains?
If you’ve got a pretty old ink stain on your item of clothing, you’ll need to rub some rubbing alcohol into the dried stain.
Then you’ll need to wait about five minutes, while the rubbing alcohol starts to break down the ink.
You can then grab some cotton wool balls and start dabbing at the stain. When you’ve soaked up as much ink as you can, you can move onto the washing phase.
At this point you’ll need to add your item to the drum, select an appropriate cycle for your item of clothing, and add some colour-safe bleach to your appliance.
The bleach in question should break down the stain and remove it entirely from the item of clothing.
When the cycle is complete, you’ll need to check your item over, and if there are still stains, you’ll need to treat them with an official stain remover.
Alternatively, you could ask a dry cleaner for advice.
Does bicarbonate of soda remove ink?
Bicarbonate of soda can be used to remove ink stains from clothes. However, this method does receive mixed results. So, keep this in mind if you are going to try this treatment out.
To use bicarb to remove ink from clothing just mix bicarbonate of soda and water in a bowl until you get a paste.
You then need to dip a cloth into the paste and spread it over the ink stain. The paste needs to be left on the mark for a minute or so, then you can start dabbing at the ink stain with a cotton wool ball.
You should notice that the cotton wool changes colour as the ink is lifted off the material and onto the ball.
You will need to repeat the method above until all the ink has been gathered up. Then you can wipe the area with a clean damp cloth, and launder the item as per its washing instructions.
Does vinegar remove ink?
It is possible to use white vinegar to remove ink from items of clothing. But how effective this method is varies from one ink stain to another. So, don’t be disheartened if this treatment doesn’t quite work out for you.
If you’d like to try this out, follow these steps.
Simply fill a bucket with one part white vinegar and one part cold water, pop your garment in the water and make sure it is submerged.
You’ll need to leave the item in the water for half an hour. However, every ten minutes during this half an hour, you’ll need to go and blot the stain clean with a clean cloth. This blotting action will lift the ink off the material.
When you’re done you can wash the item as usual.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!