Removing Ink From Clothing: Home Remedies & Tips You Can Use

by Taylor

Removing ink from clothing can be difficult. This is compounded by the fact that how you remove these stains depends on what ingredients are in the ink which caused the stain, and typically it is hard to tell what kind of ink got all over your clothes.

Therefore, it may take some trial and error to determine what will get ink out of clothes, and a wide variety of materials may be needed.

Below I've gathered several videos showing alternate ways to remove these stains. I would suggest trying the most conservative methods first, and then going to the harsher techniques only if needed, so there is less chance of harming the fabric.

In addition, I suggest always testing any homemade or commercial stain removers in an inconspicuous area of the garment first, just to make sure it does not discolor or otherwise harm the clothes before trying it on the stained area.

Photo by Yandle

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Get Ink Out Of Clothes With Hairspray

The video below gives a very common suggestion for how to get ink out of clothes -- use hairspray.

Basically, the directions are to saturate the ink stain with hairspray, and then blot at the stain.

Then, wash the items immediately with laundry detergent and color safe bleach (or chlorine bleach if it's a white item).

Finally, make sure the stain is completely gone before you place the clothing in the dryer, to make sure you don't set the stain if some is still left after washing.

Here's the video:

Hairspray {Referral Links}

Has anyone had luck with removing ink from clothing with hairspray? If so, I would love to hear type of ink you removed, and with what type of hairspray. You can share your tips and experience here.

Tips for removing ink stains from clothing

I generally advise people not to use hairspray for stain removal, just because it has so much glue and other additives in it that these ingredients may cause harm to your clothes. It is not quite as big of a deal to use hairspray on clothing though, so if you want to try it I don't think it would be a horrible idea.

I really don't like it for for upholstery or carpet, because at least with fabric you can wash it and remove the hairspray residue, but you can't on these other surfaces.

You can read more about my thoughts about hairspray uses for stain removal and cleaning here, as well as suggestions from around the site on how it can be used to remove all types of stains.

Hairspray uses for stain removal and cleaning

An alternative to hair spray that I typically suggest is rubbing or isopropyl alcohol. I suggest this anytime hairspray is called for, just because typically the active ingredient used for stain removal in such a situation is the alcohol in the hairspray.

Rubbing and isopropyl alcohol uses for stain removal and cleaning

That is also why cheaper hairsprays actually work better for stain removal than more expensive ones -- the cheaper ones have more alcohol in them typically.

Below are even more videos and alternates you can try for removing ink from clothing.

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Tips For Removing Ink Stains From Clothes

The video below gives tips for removing ink stains from clothes.

Basically, the approach to stain removal within this video is to throw everything at this stain, and something should work.

The ideas suggested in the video include the following:

  • Wipe with a baby wipe

  • Blot with water

  • Soak with hairspray (see above)

  • Blot with a solution of warm water and dishwashing liquid

  • Soak in milk for an hour (see tip below for more details and instructions from a reader)

  • Coat with a paste made from vinegar and cornstarch

  • Blot with isopropyl or denatured alcohol (also known as methylated spirits)

  • Launder
I had heard of all these methods before, except making a paste of vinegar and corn starch.

Here is the video:

My personal recommendation, from research and from my own experience, is that if the ink is oil based rubbing alcohol is what will work best to remove it.

If the ink is water based than water and dishwashing soap will work quite well to get it out of your clothes.

Do you have your own tip for removing ink stains from washable fabric? If so, submit your tips for removing ink stains from clothing here, or read other tips already submitted.

Photo by RougeSun Media, from Flickr CC

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Grandma's Secret For Removing Ink: Milk

by Donna Dockendorf
(N. St. Paul, MN)

Donna says:

This is an old secret my mother and her mother used to remove any kind of ink from any type of fabric.

It's quite easy, just soak the stain in milk! The darker the stain the longer the soak.

Simply rinse with clear, cool water once the stain is gone.

I have always used whole milk. Works on everything from dress shirts to faux fur coats.

To remove ink from rug use a clean white dish towel or wash cloth, dip in milk then blot repeating until ink is gone. Use water to rinse milk out.

Taylor says:

Thanks so much for this tip!

I'd love to hear from others sharing whether this worked for them as well.

Plus, remember that normally milk doesn't stain much, but if it does for you, you can use these milk stain removal instructions to get the spots out.

***Update: I've gotten a similar comment from Cath, who also uses milk for removing ink stains. She says: "I was going to say 'milk' and then I saw someone got there before me! That's what my mother always used to use when I came home with ink on my white school blouse. Which was quite frequently." ***End Update

You might be surprised to hear that there are lots of unusual uses of milk around your home. Click the link to find more that I've added to the site, or to share your own with me as well!

Photo courtesy of NickPiggott

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I Use Fels Naptha For Ink Stains

by Mary

Mary says:

I always try the simplest route when it comes to removing stains from clothes.

I often get small ink spots on my work shirts and found that pre-treating them with the Fels usually does the trick.

After all I already use the Fels to pre-treat my shirt collars and cuffs, so it was only natural that I would try it on ink stains, and it does work.

Fels Naptha {Referral Links}

Taylor says:

Fels Naptha soap uses
Thanks so much for this tip Mary!

Believe it or not you're not the first person to share this tip with me, at least two other readers have independently told me that the Fels Naptha laundry bar works wonders on ink spots.

That definitely makes me a believer!

Did you know there are lots of uses for this laundry product around your home? I've collected lots of Fels Naptha soap uses here, if you'd like to read even more.

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Remove Ink From Clothes With Natural Ingredients

I watched a video on You Tube about how to remove ink from clothes with only natural ingredients. (The video has since been removed, so I've summarized it below.)

Frankly, I have no idea if this works, but it may be worth a try if you're wanting to try only natural stain removers. In addition, except for the borax which many people don't just typically stock in their homes (unless you make lots of homemade cleaning products), you most likely have the rest of these ingredients in your kitchen right now.

The stain removal mixture she creates has the following ingredients:

Borax Cleaning Powder {Referral Links}

After creating the mixture lay your stained garment flat and pour the mixture onto the ink stain. Let it sit for several hours, or overnight and then wash as normal.

I'd love to hear from anyone who tries this to say how it works for them, telling me (if known) what type of ink you were trying to remove.

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How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothes With Denatured Alcohol

Below is a video showing how to remove ink stains from clothes with denatured alcohol.

This method works best on oil-based inks, instead of water based inks.

In addition, it should only be used on washable fabrics, not those that need to be dry cleaned.

When you get an ink stain on your clothes you need to treat it as quickly as possible before the ink has a chance to set.

Get a cotton ball or cloth dipped in denatured alcohol and blot the ink stained cloth with it.

You will see that ink transfers from the cloth to the cotton ball. Keep blotting with the denatured alcohol until no more ink transfers.

Hint: As you continue to blot you will want to occasionally switch to a fresh cotton ball or clean part of the cloth which does not have any ink on it to avoid re-transferring the ink back onto the fabric.

If this is an oil-based ink this will most likely remove most or all of the ink. If not, you may need to continue on with some additional steps.

Denatured Alcohol {Referral Links}

The other techniques that the video suggests for removing ink stains include rinsing with soapy water, if it is a water-based ink stain, and soaking in milk overnight.

You can watch the video for full details.

As you can see there are a lot of tips for removing ink from clothing.

Ink stains are known to be pretty tough to remove, but hopefully one of these suggestions will work for you.

Do you have a tip for how to remove ink stains from fabric or clothing? If so, submit your tips for removing ink stains from clothing here, or read additional tips that have already been submitted.

In addition, you can share your methylated spirits (a.k.a. denatured alcohol) uses here, or read other uses already submitted.

Related Links On This Site

Stain Removal Tips & Tricks For Busy Moms

Stain Remover Reviews

Stain Removal Clothes Tips

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Comments for How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothes With Denatured Alcohol

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Hand sanitizer
by: Anonymous

Alcohol based hand sanitizer works well on ink pen marks or small ink stains. Be sure to put something behind the stain so it doesn't bleed through to the other parts of the garment.

by: Patty

I have used hairspray for pretreater to remove ballpoint pen stains from clothing.

ink on bedspread
by: Linda

How do you get set ink stains from my bedspread? My dog chewed up a pen on my bed?

Afraid to wash ink stained blanket in washing machine
by: Anonymous

Our dog bit open a gel pen and the ink emptied onto his blanket. I tried soaking a lot up with paper towels, but there's still a lot of ink soaked in. I'm not sure whether it's safe to wash it in the washing machine - I fear the ink will stain the washer and then get on other clothes. Should I dispose of the blanket? Or am I being silly?

red ink stain
by: Carol

I am a nurse, and have a white cotton / polyester blend lab coat that got a red ink stain on the pocket. I don't know if it makes a difference, but the ink is either regular ball point, or red gel ink. It was sent off to the cleaners, and came right back with the stain on it. I have tried soaking it for hours in rubbing alcohol, which has faded it somewhat, but has not removed it. Any help is much appreciated!

purple ink stain on cotton/polyester blend fabric
by: Anonymous

A purple pen got into the wash with my white chef uniforms and there are large purple spots all over them.

Try using body spray instead of hair spray
by: Saikat

Well body spray worked great for me because it doesn't leave behind any sticky residue like the hairspray.

And I'm not sure about it, but vodka should work well right? It's got a pretty good amount of alcohol?!

Coca-Cola got out blue ink pen from cream corduroy pants
by: Armelle

Soak in Coca Cola all night long. It's how they clean the nylon ropes in France. I did try on a cream corduroy pants with a blue ink pen (pen raked through the pocket of lab coat), saved the pants, even got a lighter color of cream.

by: Sue

Milk takes ink off wallpaper too!

yep, hairspray
by: Eilene

When I worked as a receiving clerk at C R Anthony at the traffic circle, I accidentally got ink on one of the men's trousers I was checking in. The head assistant manager told me to get some hairspray and it would come out. He was right, it did!! I still bought them for my husband anyway!

hair spray
by: Lori

Hairspray got out the dark blue ink that my son's exploding pen got all over his white uniform for work!!!!!!!

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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.

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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.