We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I Remove Ink Stains?

By Nick Doniger
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The methods by which one would remove ink stains can differ greatly depending on the severity of the stain, type of ink, how long it has set and many other factors. Tactics to remove an ink stain are different than many other stain removal processes. Additionally, a specific type of ink on a specific type of fabric may require a different cleaning method than another type of ink on another type of fabric. The universal rule for removing ink stains, however, is that the sooner the process begins, the greater the likelihood is that the stain may be removed permanently. Some ink stains, however, may be impossible to remove, yet they can usually be diminished.

Before removing an ink stain, it is recommended that one tests the particular solvent or chemical on the fabric. In order to do this, a less-noticeable area on the fabric should be chosen. If a certain chemical or even a certain cleaning method appears to damage this area, one may be able to avoid damaging the area in which the ink stained the fabric by choosing different chemicals and cleaning methods.

The most common ink stain comes from the ink of a ballpoint pen. Unfortunately, complete removal of such a stain may be difficult due to the fact that ballpoint ink often consists of several different types of chemicals. The stain may still be significantly faded or lightened, but this may require some persistence and the use of several different chemicals or solvents.

For the most part, one can remove ink stains by taking a particular chemical or solvent and blotting it on the affected area with either a clean cloth or cotton ball. The affected area should then be rinsed with water. Most solvents should not be applied directly on a fabric's surface. Doing so may cause the solvent to soak deep into the affected fabric and potentially cause irreversible damage.

Glycerin, a chemical available at most pharmacies, is commonly used to remove ink stains. If unavailable, glycerin can be replaced with common hair spray, which may in fact be applied directly to the fabric. Other products that may be employed for ink stain removal include rubbing alcohol, a mixture of water and baking soda to be applied as a thick paste, or a mixture of water and a gentle laundry detergent to be lightly rubbed into a lather on the affected fabric. These products and methods generally prove successful in removing most ink stains from cotton clothing.

Some ink stains are very difficult to remove and require stronger chemicals or solvents. After attempting the aforementioned methods and products, one may try blotting the affected area with acetone nail polish remover. This is a fairly astringent product, but it is considered safe to use on clothing. Additionally, potent commercial stain removers are available on the market in most countries.

White shirts may be the most difficult to remove ink stains from. If other methods fail, one may apply a small amount of bleach mixed with water to the fabric, using a clean cloth or cotton ball as usual. The fabric must then be immediately and thoroughly rinsed in order to avoid damaging the fibers of the clothing.

After attempting these various methods to remove ink stains, it is recommended that the then-cleaned fabric is machine washed in cold water. Before moving the fabric to the drier, one should ensure that the stain has been successfully removed or diminished. The heat from the drier may cause a lingering stain to set and potentially become permanent.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By leilani — On Apr 14, 2010

You can also try and make a paste from lemon juice and cream of tartar. Leave it on the stain for a while, maybe an hour or so, and than it can be removed.

If the stain is on a fine fabric, it has to be applied and removed quickly, than reaplied and removed again.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.