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If you’ve ever had the experience of washing a ballpoint pen with a full load of clothes, or having a child “accidentally” draw on your fabric furniture, you’ve probably investigated a number of ways to remove ink from fabrics. Many websites on the Internet mask themselves as helpful sites but are really advertisements for one or another detergent brand. While some detergents, like Oxyclean® or Gain can get ink out of some clothing, there are also some excellent home-based methods to get rid of ink.
One of the most popular and effective methods to remove ink from clothing, especially if it is a single stain, is to apply hairspray. Most prefer pump hairspray to aerosol. The hairspray should not have conditioners or oils, as this may stain one’s clothing with oil. Instead, choose simple hairspray with a high alcohol content. If one is choosing an aerosol spray to get ink out, use Aquanet or its generic equivalent. Spray a bit of hairspray on the stain and gently scrub to remove ink.
Multiple ink stains may be more difficult to remove, and in these cases, the detergent method may work better. One can also get out the stains by using stain remover like Shout®, or simply by treating each spot with a little liquid detergent, and then rubbing gently. Last, let the clothing sit for about 15-20 minutes and rewash. This will generally take care of ink stains.
However, once the clothing, and the ink are dry, it may be harder to get the ink out. One needs to wet the ink or treat with an alcohol based substance for best results. Instead of hairspray, one can also try simple rubbing alcohol. Occasionally people also use vinegar, but this may not work well on furniture fabrics. It can be particularly fragrant and challenging to completely remove from furniture fabrics. Alcohol or hairsprays tend to work to remove ink on furniture because they quickly evaporate. Some people also swear by carpet cleaning sprays for the removal of ink on furniture.
A number of people also recommend using dishwasher detergent, or even dish soap, for ink removal. With dishwasher detergent, one coats each stain with the detergent, allows it to sit for 20 minutes or more and then rewashes it in the washing machine. One should test an area of the fabric prior to trying this method as it can remove ink stains and color of the fabric at the same time, especially if it contains bleach. Any dishwasher detergent containing bleach should not be used. Similarly, hydrogen peroxide can also get rid of the ink stains, but ruin a garment.
Permanent ink stains require different treatment, since the ink is meant to last, even through exposure to detergents. If you catch a permanent ink stain while it is still wet, you may be able to remove ink by using one of the above methods. You may have to work at it for some time, scrubbing and reapplying alcohol or hairspray, to remove or lighten the ink stain.
In many cases, permanent ink stains are extremely stubborn to remove. Even dry cleaners can be challenged by permanent ink, and it’s best to call an upholstery cleaner to get them off fabric on furniture without damaging it.