Ever wondered how to get ink stains out of clothes once you’ve found them? The methods below help get rid of even old stains. I also use this method to treat ink stains on the lining of my purse when I forget to put the cap back on my pen.
Getting Ink out of Clothes
It’s happened to all of us. Just the other day I tucked a ballpoint pen in the pocket of my favorite pink hoodie without putting on the cap. Sure enough, I found an ink stain on it when I was doing the wash.
My family is prone to ink stains, so I keep the ingredients below on hand. Now you’ll know what to keep in stock, too.
Why Does Ink Stain Clothes?
Ink isn’t just coloring — it’s an oil-based dye delivery system. That means you’re not removing the dye — you’ve also got to tackle the oil-base, too.
The type of chemical bond between the ink and your clothing depends on whether you’ve laundered the item.
A Laundry Tip to Stop Stains from Setting
As with most laundry stains, it’s easier to get ink stains out of clothes when the spot is fresh. That’s why your grandma inspected every item of clothing as she dropped them into the machine.
Life is a lot busier these days, though. One way to make dealing with stains easier is by keeping a stain-treatment stick or spray next to your dirty clothes hamper. Swipe or spray spots on your clothes as you get undressed then chuck them in the basket. On laundry day, your stains will come right out because they’ve been pre-treated.
Hairspray Does Not Work on Ink Stains
It used to be that you could use hairspray to remove ink, but modern hairsprays tend to be low-alcohol.
Know what does have a lot of rubbing alcohol in it still? Hand sanitizer! So, in a pinch, give it a try. Just remember that added fragrances, moisturizers, and colorings may make the problem worse. (Related: Surprising Uses for Hand Sanitizer.)
How to Get Fresh Ink Stains Out of Clothes
When dealing with new ink spots, the dye’s oil hasn’t had a chance to bond with your clothing yet. That makes it much easier to get ink stains out of clothes when the spot hasn’t chemically bonded to the fabric.
Follow the steps below to get rid of fresh ink stains on fabric. When doing so, don’t rub or wipe the spot — just blot it — or you may cause the stain to spread.
You will need:
- Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol (Surgical spirits in the U.K.
- An old towel or print-free brown paper bag
- A rag
- Blot up as much ink as possible. To do this, use a paper towel or old white rag and press against the ink stain. Lift the cloth, rotate it, then use a clean area to blot the stain again. Repeat this process until you can’t get any more ink out.
- Flatten the stained area on an old towel or plain paper bag. Dip a clean rag into rubbing alcohol until it’s wet and dab the stain. Rotate it, so you’re always using a fresh section.
- Launder. When you can’t get any more ink out of the cloth by dabbing, launder it by hand or in the machine on the hottest setting the fabric can handle. After washing, make sure there’s no stain left before you put it in the dryer.
- If the stain remains after washing, follow the method below. (Don’t skip the steps above, though. As tempting as that may be, the method above acts as a pre-treatment for the following steps to make them more effective.)
How to Remove Old Ink Stains from Clothes
Getting an old ink stain out of clothes is more difficult because the oil-based part of the dye has chemically bonded to your clothing. It’s still possible, though. Here’s how.
You will need:
- Plain glycerin
- Oxygenated bleach (Oxiclean is one)
- Liquid dish soap (I use Dawn Original)
- First, try the method above. It acts as a pre-treatment to make this method more effective.
- Apply glycerin. Since glycerin is made from animal fat or vegetable oil, it helps dissolve the oil-based bond because, chemically, like dissolves like.
- Make an ink-dissolving mixture. Combine one tablespoon of glycerin, one tablespoon of oxygenated bleach, and one teaspoon of liquid dish detergent in a small bowl.
- Apply the mixture to both sides of the stain. Let this treatment sit for 5 minutes so it has time to dissolve the stain.
- Launder. Wash the item in the machine or by hand using the hottest water permitted on the care label. Inspect it after washing and rinsing to make sure the stain is gone. If it persists, repeat the above steps until you’ve removed all the ink stain from the fabric.
Treat Clothing Ink Stains on the Go
Hand sanitizer makes an excellent ink stain remover since it’s alcohol-based. Tuck a few packets of it in your purse or desk, or keep a bottle of it handy to get ink marks out of your clothes when they happen.
Or go ahead and get that pocket protector. They’re inexpensive and work great!