How to Remove Ballpoint Pen Ink Marks From Clothes

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Treat pen stains on clothing at first sight for best results.
Treat pen stains on clothing at first sight for best results. (Image: pen image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com)

A ballpoint pen ink mark can ruin the appearance of an entire piece of clothing. Whether a pen exploded in your pocket, or you have just one mark on your shirt, you don't have to throw out an otherwise good piece of clothing because of the stain. Take care when removing ink stains from clothing so the ink does not spread.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Alcohol-based hairspray
  • Dry-cleaning solvent
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Laundry pretreatment spray

New Ink Stains

Lay the ink-stained portion of the clothing on top of a rag. This will catch the ink as it is being removed from the fabric.

Saturate the ink spot with alcohol-based hairspray. Blot the ink stain with a clean rag.

Continue blotting, switching to clean portions of the rag frequently, until no more ink transfers from the clothing to the rag. Apply more hairspray as needed.

Wash the clothing as usual. Let the clothing air dry after washing and inspect for any traces of the ink.

Repeat this process if the ink stain remains. If the hairspray doesn't remove the ink, move on to the steps for treating persistent ink stains.

Persistent Ink Stains

Apply dry-cleaning solvent to a clean rag and blot it onto the stain. Continue blotting, switching to clean portions of the rag frequently, until the ink is no longer transferring onto the rag. Apply more dry-cleaning solvent as needed.

Rinse the stained area of the clothing with cool water to remove the dry-cleaning solvent. Blot the spot with a rag moistened with rubbing alcohol. Let the rubbing alcohol sit on the clothing until it has dried.

Drizzle liquid laundry detergent on top of the rubbing alcohol. Work the detergent into the stain with your fingers. Let it sit on the clothing overnight.

Rinse the clothing under cool water the next day. Apply a laundry pretreatment spray and launder the clothing as usual. Do not place the clothing in the dryer until you are sure that all of the ink is gone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always test the product you are using on a small, inconspicuous area of the clothing first.
  • You can buy dry-cleaning solvent at most large grocery stores and from various online retailers.
  • Do not put the clothing in the dryer until all of the ink has been removed. The heat from the dryer will set the stain.

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