How to Remove Ink From Paper Labels

Removing ink can be difficult but not impossible.
Removing ink can be difficult but not impossible. (Image: glasses, pen and paper image by hazel proudlove from

When you write something in ink, it's permanent. Or at least it's supposed to be. But mistakes happen to everyone, and now you have a misprinted label. Luckily, ink isn't quite as permanent as people tend to think. There are steps you can take to remove the faulty ink and start over.

Things You'll Need

  • 000 gauge sandpaper
  • Rubber gloves
  • Ceramic bowl
  • Cotton swabs
  • Acetone
  • Spirit of salts (hydrochloric acid)

Scrub the paper label with the sandpaper, working gently and keeping the paper tight on your work surface. If the sandpaper does not remove the ink, move on to the next step.

Pour a small amount of the acetone into the bowl, and dip the cotton swab in it. Remember to use the gloves.

Apply the acetone carefully but vigorously to the ink. Go slowly and check to ensure the ink is being removed. If acetone is not working, and you absolutely must remove this ink, wash the bowl thoroughly or use another ceramic bowl, and dilute the spirit of salts according to the directions on the package. You won't need much, so measure carefully.

Apply the acid solution with the cotton swabs, going carefully and ensuring you are not destroying the paper.

Dispose of all chemicals in the proper manner and leave your paper somewhere dry and warm to dry out.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always start with the sandpaper method. It's simple, effective, and above all, safe.
  • Nail polish remover, paint thinner or other common household solvent can be used in place of the acetone.
  • Any removal technique will be more noticeable on older or colored paper.
  • Spirit of salts is available at most hardware stores. You may have to present identification to purchase it.
  • Good inks will be harder to remove than cheaper inks, and good paper will stand up to the chemicals better than cheap paper.
  • Go carefully and give yourself ample time to complete the task.
  • Be sure to do this in a location where someone is nearby to assist you if something goes wrong.
  • You will be working with hazardous chemicals. Be sure that you do this in a well-ventilated room away from children and pets.
  • Before you try this, research carefully where the chemicals will need to be disposed of after use.
  • - Do not use these techniques on financial documents! They are considered signs of fraud by the authorities.

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