Pen Stain Removal Tips For All Types Of Surfaces

by Taylor

Almost everyone needs pen stain removal advice from time to time.

This is because we use pens all the time to write, and carry them around in our shirt or pants pocket, or our purse, and unfortunately there they tend to leak or explode, sometimes it seems at random.

In addition, when writing, especially if you're a lefty you're likely to get pen ink on your hands or fingers.

Finally, there are the little culprits which cause us to need to know how to remove pen stains from all types of items in our home. I'm of course speaking of little children, who just can't seem to resist drawing all over any blank surface with any stray pen they find.

Below I've collected tips, and answered reader's questions about this topic. There are, of course, lots of ways to remove these stains, and a lot depends on what kind of ink it is (water or oil based), and what type of surface the ink has gotten on.

That means I know I haven't addressed every method for pen stain removal yet. If you've used a technique or know a tip I haven't shared yet, I would love to hear it from you. You can share your stain removal ballpoint ink tips here, or read even more tips already submitted. If it's good, I'll add it to the page!

In addition, this page is mainly focused on home remedies and techniques for removing pen stains. If you prefer to use a commercial product, you can read ink spot remover reviews here, or share your own review to tell how a product you've tried has worked for you.

Now, without further ado, here are the tips already compiled:

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Remove Ball Point Pen Ink With Hand Sanitizer

by Victoria
(Ohio, USA)

Victoria's Instructions:

1. Rub hand sanitizer (preferably waterless) on area that is soiled with ink.

2. Take clean white cloth or paper towel and rub until all hand sanitizer is absorbed.

3. If it is a heavy ink stain, you may have to repeat steps 1 and 2 a few times.

4. Voila! The ink is gone!

Hand Sanitizer {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Thanks for these instructions Victoria.

I would just like to add that the best hand sanitizers to use for this task are those which are alcohol based, since it is the alcohol which is the key ingredient which helps remove the stain.

In addition, many of the fancier brands have additives, like aloe or Vitamin E, which are great for keeping your hands moisturized when using a drying product like alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel, but which may cause staining on your clothes.

Therefore, the best kinds of product to use for this is the kind without these additional additives.

Finally, several products say that it can discolor some fabrics, so before using in an obvious area I suggest testing first for colorfastness in an inconspicuous area.

You can read more tips and uses for hand sanitizer here, or share your own as well.

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How I Removed Leaked Pen Ink From Pocket Of My Scrubs

by Shirley Roby
(West, Mississippi, USA)

My ink pen leaked in the pocket of my scrub and this is how I removed the stain.

1. Pure acetone
2. Hair Spray
3. Paper towels
4. Sponge

Acetone {Referral Links}

Put paper towels under the stain and dab with acetone soaked sponge. You may have to repeat this step several times.

acetone uses
When I removed as much ink as I possibly could I then rinsed the spot under cold water and sprayed it with hairspray.

I rubbed the area until the stain was no longer visible.

Then I rinsed under cold water again, laundered in cold water and air dried my scrub. Good as new!!!

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for sharing how you did this Shirley.

There are lots of uses for acetone for cleaning and stain removal, so thanks for sharing another. If you're interested in learning more click the link to see more I've collected throughout the site.

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How To Remove Ballpoint Ink From Clothing

Below is a video suggesting tips for how to remove ballpoint ink from clothing using hairspray.

First, wet the stained area of clothing with a bit of water, and then spray it liberally with hair spray.

The reason she suggests to wet the area first is so the hairspray does not evaporate so fast.

After the hairspray has been sprayed on you should rub the area of the clothing with the marks with an old toothbrush or other scrub brush to help remove the stain.

You should apply the hairspray and then rub about two to three times, until you have gotten out as much of the ballpoint ink as possible with the hairspray.

Next, you apply a laundry stain remover to the fabric and let it sit for at least fifteen minutes.

Lastly, you wash the clothing as normal to remove the last traces of the ballpoint ink from the fabric, plus the hairspray.

You can read my cautions for using hairspray for stain removal and cleaning here, since there are some issues with using this product because of the glues and other additives it contains. Further, the link will provide links to even more ways to use this product for removing spots and spills on things around your home.

Hairspray {Referral Links}

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Get Ballpoint Ink Stains Off Skin With Tea Bag

Unusual Use For A Tea Bag

Unusual Use For A Tea Bag

Wondering how to get ballpoint ink stains off your skin?

Did a ballpoint pen explode on your finger, or did the ink just smear all over your hand as you wrote.

This can be an especially big problem for lefties, I know, since my daughter is one.

So, here is a quick tip on how to get rid of these ballpoint ink stains from your skin.

Fix yourself a cup of tea, and after you use the tea bag remove it from the hot water and wait for it to cool to the touch.

Once it is cool enough rub the wet tea bag on your stained skin, and the video below says it will remove those stains.

What techniques do you use for pen stain removal from your skin? I know there are more out there. You can submit your own stain removal ballpoint ink tips here.

***Update: A SR101 reader, a Lefty, shared the following comment, saying:
This tip actually worked really well. I am surprised, but happy to find something to get that perpetual ink stain off my hand from writing.
***End Update

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Ink Pen Removal Stain Tip For Upholstered Furniture

Below is a video showing this couple's ink pen removal stain tip for upholstered furniture.

Apparently they had a game night at their house and during the course of it their upholstered couch got ink pen marks and stains on it.

They tried several different methods of pen stain removal before finally settling upon hairspray.

The video shows how she successfully used hairspray to get rid of the pen marks on the couch.

Afterward there was a visible spot where they had sprayed the hairspray, but I assume this went away after the hairspray dried and evaporated, although the video does not show this.

Tell me in the comments how this worked for you. I would also be interested in hearing how the hairspray looks after it has dried.

Perhaps you should, after removing the pen marks, wipe away the hairspray with some water and a white cloth?

Of course, in my article about ballpoint ink stain removal, I caution about using hairspray for removing ballpoint ink stains, for the same reason I mentioned above, the glue in the spray. The glue itself can cause some problems for you, especially on items like upholstery where you can't throw it in the washing machine after treating it with the hairspray.

Below I addressed this issue more, when a reader wrote in to ask me a question about ink upholstery stains.

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Red Ball Point Pen Stain On Cream Colored Chair

by Anonymous

Red Ink

Red Ink

I received this question from a reader regarding a red ball point pen stain on a cream colored chair. The question was:


The chair, which is made of 100% polyester fabric, is less than 6 months old and I want to remove the stain properly the first time. I have some 99% isopropyl alcohol to use. Want to get advice before I attempt to clean the stain. There are no cleaning symbols on the Tag for the new upholstery. Please Advise.

Taylor's Answer

Ink stains are some of the most problematic you can have, especially on upholstery.

Part of the problem with ink stains, such as yours, is that it is not always clear what ingredients are in the ink, so it is not necessarily clear if the ink is water or oil soluble.

It is always best to first assume the ink is oil soluble, which is why my instructions on my ballpoint ink stain removal page, which includes instructions for removing these stains from upholstery.

That page suggests using dry cleaning solvent, which is an excellent most-purposes solvent. If you read my whole article on this solvent you will note I recommend Guardsman Dry Cleaning Fluid, which I unfortunately cannot find in most stores. (You can buy it from the Internet though.)

Dry Cleaner Solvent {Referral Links}

I notice you say you did not see a care tag on the upholstered furniture. It is good that you looked, since these upholstery care tags can say what type of cleaners and stain removers are appropriate. It is best to try a cleaner first in an inconspicuous area, to make sure it does not harm the upholstery before you use it on the stain, but it is essential when you can't find the care tags.

I note that you say you don't have dry cleaning solvent right now, but instead isopropyl alcohol. You can try this on the upholstery, since it can work well sometimes too. Alcohol is also a very good solvent for oil soluble stains, such as most red ball point pen stains.

For example, you can watch the video above about ink pen removal on upholstered furniture where they used hairspray to remove the stain. I would suggest using alcohol instead of hairspray because it is the alcohol within the hairspray that can help ball point pen stains, like yours. That way you don't get all the glue and other additives to the hair spray staying on the chair.

Therefore, you can definitely try isopropyl alcohol to try to get out the stain. However, it is not guaranteed to work (nothing is guaranteed with stain removal!)

I hope this advice helps you remove your ink stain from your chair. However, as with all do it yourself stain removal, you do it at your own risk. If the chair is very valuable, and you are very concerned, it may well be worth the money to just call a professional.

Does anyone else have any more advice for this reader for pen stain removal, that you want to share? You can share your stain removal ballpoint ink tips here.

Remember that you can ask your questions and for stain removal help here.

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Related Links On This Site

Stain Removal Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

Share Your Upholstery Cleaning Tips

Tell Me Your Stain Removal Clothes Tips

Tea Stain Removal

Rubbing Alcohol Uses For Cleaning & Stain Removal

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Comments for Red Ball Point Pen Stain On Cream Colored Chair

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Milk for ballpoint ink removal
by: Sandie

Soak the fabric in a small bowl of regular milk. Skim milk doesn't work.

Removing Ball Point Ink From Skin With Baby Wipes
by: Tara

Baby wipes work for regular ball point pens when your little one draws all over themselves. My favorite brand is Huggies. They seem to work the best for all of my needs.

old ink / antibacterial stain
by: Tanya

I am in desperate need of advice in cleaning my white couch and love seat! We have had the couches for almost six years. The fabric is S. My three year old took a black ball point pen to a large area on one of the cushions. I usually have slip covers on the couches, but this occurred while washing the slip covers. This event happened about a year ago. I also have stains on the cushions from using anti-bacterial gel to get other stains out which left rings like a water stain. I would love to get this set back in good condition, I'm just at a loss as to how.

how do I remove ballpoint pen from nylon windbreaker?
by: Ellen Cohen

I am trying to remove ballpoint pen from a nylon (Columbia) windbreaker. The stain is NOT new.

I have tried Oxiclean stain remover chlorine free powder and Clorox FreshCare at home dry cleaning kit.

Neither worked.

Do you have any suggestions?

Remove ballpoint ink from clothes with milk
by: Adam

Removing ballpoint ink from clothes is easy! I have always soaked the area in milk and just watched as the stain is "erased" - within moments - right before your eyes, almost like magic! (very little rubbing - if any is needed). I know this may be unconventional, but it has never failed me and it is so easy!

Moonshine isn't just for drinking!
by: Roxann Madsen

My husband accidentally made several ink marks on an upholstered ottoman yellow in color! We did not have any rubbing alcohol or dry cleaner solvent but did have some moonshine that someone had given him. It was too awful to drink and I wondered why we kept it. He tried it and it worked! He used a cloth and dabbed it until gone. So I guess we may keep it for stain removal. :)

by: Arcia

I clean houses and use vodka to remove ink from most every surface. I also use it with white toothpaste to clean water spots from shower doors.

Tried hand sanitizer and other products
by: Anonymous

Have ball point ink on my love seat. Read try hand sanitizer, it kind of worked. Went to alcohol, and then went to hair spray. That seemed to take the less dense mark out. Did not touch the heavier of the bunch out. Really sad it's brand new. New puppy found the pen.

all over my scrubs after washing and drying my pen
by: Kim

I washed and dried my work scrubs and left my ink pen inside my pocket. Found out I left my pen in my pocket when I opened the dryer door. I tried hair spray, but it did not work. I also tried blotting on Tech stain removal but that only made area bigger. Both my tops are of light color so that is why I'm trying hard to get the stain out.

ballpoint ink stain on my cream colored jacket
by: Anonymous

My ballpoint pen leaked on the pocket of my cream colored jacket. I've tried removing it with hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar and baking soda and Resolve but to no avail. Please, I need your help since I really love this jacket.

by: Billie

Vodka works wonders with removing ink from microfiber couches. Ink courtesy of a 4 year old.

what works
by: Rachael

Sol U mel from Melaleuca works! Even pen on clothes! Doesn't ruin them either!

rubbing alcohol worked for me
by: SR101 Reader

I used your suggestion to use alcohol on my sofa (and a glossy book cover). It worked perfectly on both! Thank you!

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Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.

I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.

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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.