How to Remove Ink Stains from Clothing

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A pocket is a handy place for pens until they become leaky.
A pocket is a handy place for pens until they become leaky. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A leaky pen or accidental pen swipe is all it takes to ruin an article of clothing. As the dye absorbs into the fabric it continues to spread, leaking into surrounding fibers. When it's caught quickly, an ink stain can be isolated and lifted from the fabric before major damage is done. The methods and supplies with which the stain is removed are important to getting the ink stain out without causing a bigger mess or ruining fabric.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bowl
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • Spoon
  • Prewash stain remover
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Oxygen bleach
  • Dry-cleaning solvent

Lay the article of clothing on a flat work surface. Isolate the ink stain by drawing a circle around it with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Use enough rubbing alcohol to wet the surrounding fabric to prevent the ink from spreading further.

Place 2 tsp. white vinegar and 1 tbsp. cornstarch in a bowl. Stir the two ingredients together to form a paste. Apply the paste to the ink-stained garment and allow it to remain on the fabric until completely dry.

Brush the dried vinegar and cornstarch paste off the garment. Rub prewash stain remover into the remaining ink stain, using enough to wet the stain. Allow the stain remover to soak into the fabric for two to three minutes.

Launder your clothing with heavy-duty laundry detergent and oxygen bleach to remove any last traces of ink stain. Before drying your garment, make sure the entire ink stain has been removed. If any remains, sponge it with dry-cleaning solvent, allow the solvent to dry then wash the garment again.

Tips & Warnings

  • If an ink stain occurs while you're out of the house, use an alcohol-based wet wipe to gently wipe away the fresh stain.
  • Soak a dried ink stain in milk overnight to help soften and release the stain.
  • Blot an ink stain with nail polish remover to remove the stain. Avoid using nail polish remover on acetate clothing as it can ruin the fabric.

References

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