Advertising & Marketing

How To Remove Ink Stains from Clothes

‘Out, damned spot!’ Lady Macbeth may have said it best. Though this overly ambitious, murder-enabling mastermind experiences challenges surrounding stains that are decidedly more dramatic than how to remove ink stains from clothes, the anguish of the unexpected stain has been felt by all! Here we look at how to remove ink stains from fabric of all sorts. We also break down best methods for stain removal based on the ink type, such as ballpoint, gel and more. If you have an ink stain, we have answers. Unlike Lady Macbeth’s, your stain is not a tragedy!

What Is the Best First Response for an Ink Stain?

If the ink stain is fresh, blot it with a clean cloth or paper towel to remove as much of the ink as possible. Do not rub the stain as this will spread the ink or push it further into the fabric.

Are There Different Stain Removal Methods for Different Pen Ink Types?

Yes! Different types of ink should be treated differently. For best results, here are tips on how to remove pen stains based on different ink types:

  • Ballpoint Pen Ink: Stains from oil-based inks such as ballpoint are best removed using surgical spirit, white vinegar, hairspray (which contains alcohol), hand sanitiser or a commercial stain remover.
  • Gel Ink Pens: Gel is a water-based ink. Other water-based inks are found in fountain pens, rollerball pens and washable marker pens. Gel and other water-based inks are harder to remove than ballpoint pen ink, and require a stronger solvent. Use methylated spirit, acetone (this is the main ingredient in nail polish remover) or a commercial stain remover. Some claim milk is an effective solvent for water-based ink stains. This option requires soaking the stained fabric in a bowl of milk for about an hour, then scrubbing it. If this is your only option, give it a try.
  • Permanent Ink Pens: Alcohol-based inks like the ink found in permanent marker pens is the most challenging ink type to remove, but not impossible! The reason it is tough to remove is because in order to dissolve the ink, the solvent you use may damage the surrounding fabric. Use methylated spirit, WD-40 or a commercial stain remover.

For all ink types, apply the solvent with a cotton ball or clean cloth in a blotting action, not a rubbing action. Let the treated stain sit for a few minutes. After you’ve treated the ink stain, rinse the area with cold water and then when you are able, launder the fabric as usual. (In the case of a commercial stain remover, follow the directions on the bottle.)

Note: We all know we should test whatever solvent we use in an inconspicuous area of fabric before applying it to the stain. However, we also know that in the case of ink stains time is of the essence, and sometimes this precautionary step is overlooked in service of our panic-driven impulse to take action.

What Are Some Additional Tips for How to Remove Ink Pen Stains?

Your pen ink stain may be on a cotton shirt or other easy-to-clean, machine-washable fabric. But in case your ink emergency involves other fabrics and materials, consider these methods:

Leather: To remove ink stains from leather or a similar porous surface, you may need to apply the solvent several times and allow it to soak in before blotting.

Wood: To remove ink stains from wood, choose dishwashing liquid applied with a soft cloth, or a bicarbonate of soda and water mixture, applied with fingers.

  • Dishwashing Liquid Method: This method is the most effective for fresh ink stains to prevent the stain from penetrating the wood. Mix dishwashing liquid and hot water and stir the mixture to make foam. Dip a cloth in the foam (not the liquid) and apply to the stain.
  • Bicarbonate of Soda Method: Mix bicarbonate of soda with water to make a paste the consistency of toothpaste. When mixed with water, bicarbonate of soda is slightly abrasive which will help in stain removal. Apply with fingertips and let the paste sit for five or 10 minutes before wiping clean with a damp cloth.

Delicate Fabrics: Some of the most effective home remedies for ink stain removal are too harsh for very delicate fabrics. If the ink stain is on a delicate fabric, such as silk or fine wool like cashmere, take it to a professional cleaner.

So When You’re Wondering How to Remove Ink Stains from Clothes…

Just remember, don’t panic. Most ink stains can be removed using the methods above! Act quickly, be patient and be persistent. And if you don’t have any luck with ink stain removal, let that stain add character to a worn-in pair of jeans, or let that fancy shirt become a handy layer for wearing while gardening.

And now that you know the best tips for how to remove pen stains in the unfortunate (but hopefully infrequent) event of an ink stain, shop our wide range of quality customised pens with confidence! Tip: The pen style that is least likely to create an ink stain is a cap pen. Check out our popular Hughes Pen Collection for personalised cap pens you can count on.  


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