Best Ink Stain Removers for Clothes

Ink stains are frustrating. They can happen out of the blue and spoil your day. But do not worry, there is a good chance your clothing is not ruined. Removing the ink can be tricky, but with these ink stain remover tips and tricks, you can remove the stain.


As hard as it is to believe, there is not a miracle product for removing ink stains. Ink comes in a wide variety of formulas, so no one ink stain remover will take care of them all.

Tips on How to Remove Ink Stains

ink stain remover

If you have an ink stain, and you want to remove it, take these tips into consideration.

  • Do Not Wait

Waiting to treat the stain can cause the ink to set permanently. The longer you wait, the less likely you will be able to remove the stain.

Fresh ink that is still wet is much easier to remove than ink that is allowed to dry.

  • Petroleum Jelly

If you are unable to treat the stain immediately, you can use petroleum jelly to stop it from spreading. When ready, remove as much of the petroleum jelly as possible. Then use rubbing alcohol to remove the rest.

  • Determine the Kind of Fabric
Tips on How to Remove Ink Stains

Know what type of fabric you are cleaning. Different fabrics require different techniques. If the garment is dry clean only, do not try to remove the ink yourself. Leave it to the professionals.

You will want to let them know what type of ink caused the stain.

  • Type of Ink

Not all inks are the same. You will need to know if the ink is oil-based or water-based. Water-based inks are the easiest to remove.

Water-based often include washable markers, gel pens, rollerball pens, and most fountain pens. Oil-based ink is harder to remove. Ballpoint pens typically use oil-based ink.

Different Types of Fabric

ink stain removal

Along with the type of ink, you need to know what type of fabric you are cleaning. Different fabrics absorb ink differently.

Cotton is the most absorbent and hardest to clean. Cotton fabric will more than likely take longer to clean than man-made materials.

Man-made materials such as polyester are not as absorbent, and stains are more easily removed. While silk can be the easiest to clean by blotting with plain water.

Best Ink Stain Removal

Ink Stain Remover Treatments for Oil-Based Stains

Most people will try to wash the stain out with water. Since a lot of ink stains are caused by ballpoint pens, water will not help.

Instead of using water, try these other treatments. Before working on the stain, test the ink stain remover on an inconspicuous area.

  1. Rubbing alcohol

The very first thing you should try for all ink stains is rubbing alcohol. It is often the best solution for neutralizing and removing the stain.

For small stains, simply apply a tiny bit of rubbing alcohol to a paper towel or clean cloth. Soak the stain with the alcohol for a few minutes.

After the alcohol has been allowed to soak, rinse it and use a clean paper towel or cloth to blot the ink. Do not scrub or wipe it. For larger stains, allow the alcohol to soak for 10 to 15 minutes.

  1. Nail polish remover

Nail polish remover was designed to remove oil-based polish. For this reason, you can also use it to remove oil-based ink.

Nail polish remover should not be your first choice. It is strong and can damage the fabric.

  1. Hairspray

Hairsprays that contain alcohol can help remove the stain. To use hairspray as an ink stain remover, place a clean towel underneath the stain between the layers of fabric. Spray the ink stain thoroughly.

Then blot the stain with a clean paper towel or cloth. After the stain is removed, wash the garment as directed.

  1. Original Dawn Dish Soap

Dawn dish soap is good for so many things. And one of these is removing oil-based ink. Dawn was created to be a gentle way to remove oil and grease. This is why it is used in wildlife rescues.

Ink Stain Remover Treatments for Water-Based Stains

Water-based stains are often easier to remove than oil-based stains. Most water-based stains can be removed with soap and room-temperature water.

Ink Stain Removers for Clothes

You can also spot treat the stains with laundry detergent. Leave the soap to soak for several minutes before blotting.

When trying to remove a water-based ink stain, do not scrub the fabric. Scrubbing can cause the ink stain to spread and make it worse. Instead, dab the stain with a clean paper towel or cloth.

Once the stain has been treated, you can wash the fabric with cold to warm-temperature water. Never use hot water.

Once the fabric has been washed, check to see if the stain is gone. If the stain is still there, retreat it and wash it again. Do not dry the fabric until the stain is completely gone.


Ink stains can ruin your day. But do not worry. Most stains can be removed using an ink stain remover. Unfortunately, some ink stains will be stubborn. Do not give up.

Continue treating the fabric with ink stain remover and blot between applications. On our Facebook Page, share with us your experience when using ink stain removers.

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