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Ink Stain Removal - How To Remove Ink Stains

Tips for Removing Ink Stains

Ink stains fall into two different categories: water-based ink stains are easier to remove, while permanent ink stains can present a much tougher challenge.

Water Based Ink Stains

  • Lay the stained area on top of a clean dry white towel. Apply water to the ink stain and blot with another clean white cloth, removing the stain as you blot.
  • Apply your normal liquid laundry detergent onto the ink stain and allow the garment to sit for 3-5 minutes.
  • Wash in the warmest water that the fabric can tolerate.
  • Before drying, double check to make sure the ink stain was removed, if not, repeat the previous steps until it is.

Permanent Ink Stains

It's important to remember that permanent inks and markers represent some of the most difficult stains to remove. If a permanent ink stain happens on a fabric or pattern that cannot be bleached, it will be difficult to impossible to remove.

  • First try dabbing the ink stain with a clean wet sponge or paper towel. Spray the ink stain with hair spray, then place the stained fabric between two clean paper towels and blot from the back side of the stained fabric, spraying with additional hair spray if needed. Apply a laundry pre-treatment stain remover; then wash and air dry.
  • The next solution to try is rubbing alcohol. Place the clothing on top of a clean white towel. Be sure to test in a hidden spot before applying rubbing alcohol to the permanent ink stain. Blot rubbing alcohol onto the stain. The towel underneath will become wet and discolored from the ink. Be sure to move the garment to a clean dry section of the towel as this happens. Continue until no more ink stain can be removed. Make sure you rinse the stained area completely free of the rubbing alcohol.
  • Next try fingernail polish remover. Blot in the same way as you did with the rubbing alcohol, moving the stained area to a clean dry section of a towel as the ink stain is removed. Rinse thoroughly.
  • As a last resort, you can try acetone, although this doesn't do well with a lot of fabric types and cannot be used on acetate and rayon fabrics. Test first in a hidden spot. Apply the acetone in the same way as the rubbing alcohol and fingernail polish remover. Remember to rinse thoroughly.
  • Next, try rubbing baking soda mixed with water into the ink stain. Rinse thoroughly.

Apply a stain stick, gel, or spray to the ink stain and wash according to the fabric directions. If the ink stain still remains after washing, try repeating the baking soda step again before rewashing and drying.

About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile