We’ve unfortunately all been in a rush to fill out paperwork or accidentally dropped a permanent marker on our clothes and obtained an unsightly stain.
The ink from pens and permanent markers can be notoriously ruinous for our closets, so it’s best to be prepared when it comes to treating and removing stains. Different ink stains will require different care, so be sure to follow the appropriate steps depending on if you’re trying to remove ballpoint pen, felt-tip pen, or permanent marker ink.
Before you use any of the methods below on your own clothing, make sure the garments are washable, and be sure to test a small hidden corner of the fabric with any products you will be using to make sure there won’t be any discoloration.
You should never try to get rid of ink stains from dry-clean only garments at home. Two of the recommended methods below involve using rubbing alcohol, and because it is flammable remember to always use it away from any open flames and launder all garments thoroughly after treating an ink stain with alcohol.
How to Remove Ballpoint Pen Ink
Fresh ballpoint ink is definitely the easiest type of ink to remove, especially from washable clothing like cotton and denim. Like any stain, the quicker you catch it, the easier it will be to remove.
What You’ll Need:
- Flush the stain with rubbing alcohol. If it’s a small stain, place a paper towel under the stain and use an eyedropper to apply rubbing alcohol to the stain. For a larger spot, pour the alcohol into a small dish, immerse the stained area, and soak for 15 minutes.
- Blot the stain with a clean paper towel. Continue sponging and blotting the stain until no further ink is released from the fabric.
- Rinse and apply a pre-wash stain remover. Rinse under cool water, use a pre-wash stain remover, and wash the garment on the hottest setting with a bleach that’s safe for the fabric — opt for a color-safe formula for colored clothes.
- Check that the ink stain is completely removed. If the stain is still there, repeat the steps above one more time or until the ink is gone. Toss the item into the dryer only after the ink is completely gone.
How to Remove Felt-Tip Pen Ink
Removing felt-tip ink is certainly a bit more time-consuming, but luckily it’s not impossible.
What You’ll Need:
- Rinse the stain under cold water. Flush out as much of the ink as you can.
- Soak the garment in a mixture of hot water, bleach-free laundry detergent, and ammonia. Fill a basin with hot water and pour in a bleach-free, liquid laundry detergent. The amount you’d use to hand wash a blouse should do, plus a couple of splashes of ammonia. Stir the solution and immerse the garment. Give the stain a rub with your fingers, and let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour. Allow stubborn stains to soak overnight, giving it a rub every so often. To help it along, mix up a fresh solution or add a bit more ammonia.
- Rinse and wash the garment as usual. When the stain is gone or lightened as much as possible, rinse the garment, rub in a bit more liquid laundry detergent, and wash as usual. As with any stain, air-dry the garment until you are certain the stain is completely removed. Putting it in a hot dryer will set the stain, making it harder to remove.
How to Remove Permanent Marker Ink
Before you start the removal process, remember that permanent ink won’t always come out. It is generally formulated to last forever, so the success of removing this stain is dependent on the material, the color of the ink, and how long the stain has set in.
The steps below may work on some fresh permanent ink stains, but if not you should try a more dedicated stain remover. As a last resort, if your garment is bleach-safe, try using chlorine bleach to remove the stain.
What You’ll Need:
- Paper towels
- Rubbing alcohol
- Pre-Wash Stain Remover
- Sponge rubbing alcohol into the stain. Place an old towel or a paper towel underneath the permanent ink stain. Pour rubbing alcohol onto another paper towel and use it to sponge around and directly on the stain. If the towel underneath the stain becomes too stained, remove and replace it with a clean one and continue to sponge until no more ink is being removed from the garment.
- Rinse the garment. Rinse the garment thoroughly in cool water. If the stain is not completely removed yet, you can try the above step once more or try an ink stain remover.
- Wash the garment as usual. If the stain is gone, wash the garment as you usually would and air-dry until you’re sure all the stain is gone.
How to Get Ink Out of Leather
If your pen accidentally brushed up against your purse, don’t worry. Just dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and lightly rub the stain to wipe away the marks.
If your purse has a shiny patina or a glossy surface, it’s probably been coated in a leather protectant and should be easier to treat. If rubbing alcohol doesn’t do the trick, try a commercial product designed specifically for cleaning leather, like Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner.
If that doesn’t work or your purse is made of unfinished leather, take it to a dry cleaner that specializes in treating leather. To make marks, like ink, easier to remove the next time, apply a leather protectant, like Furniture Clinic Leather Protection Cream, to purses, sofas, and other finished leather items.
Can you get ink out of clothes after drying?
You may not be completely out of luck if you’ve found a set in ink stain. Try the methods above first, but if you’re unsuccessful you can use a stronger commercial stain remover. These products usually contain ingredients to target all types of ink. Please remember to follow the label directions when using them and test them in a hidden spot first to be sure they are safe for the fabrics you are treating. A great option is the Shout Advanced Action Gel, which works to remove stains even after going through the dryer.
Can you use other DIY methods to get ink out of clothes?
There are a few other DIY stain removal methods! Hairspray has actually earned a reputation for removing ink stains because of the alcohol in its formula. However, many modern sprays contain less alcohol, so they aren’t as effective on ink stains as older formulas may have been. Other DIY methods include vinegar, toothpaste, and even hand sanitizer. Though the alcohol in hand sanitizer may remove a bit, we’ve never found any of these alternatives to be as effective as the methods above.
Check out this video and discover additional tricks for effectively removing ink stains from your clothing!
Does rubbing alcohol damage clothes?
When used in small amounts, rubbing alcohol is generally safe for most fabrics. As with any store-bought or other DIY stain remover, you should still test it on a small hidden spot before using it on the visible part of any garment.
For more tips from Cleanzen Cleaning Services, check out our blog or contact us today to schedule your services for a happier and healthier home!