How to Remove an Ink Stain From Cotton & Polyester

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Ink stains can be difficult to remove.

Ink stains on cotton and polyester clothing are among the most frustrating stains to remove. While you can use a pen ink remover, removing ink stains is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The ink removal process depends heavily on the fabric, the ink and how fresh the stain is. When removing any ink stain, it is vital to act fast before the stain dries; otherwise, it becomes much more challenging to remove.


Remove Ink Stains From Cotton Without Pen Ink Remover

You can remove oil-based pen ink stains, such as those from ballpoint pens, from cotton clothing with hair spray and a solution made from dishwashing detergent, white vinegar and warm water. Create the solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in 1 quart of warm water.


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Begin the removal process by spot testing the hair spray and the solution on an inconspicuous area on the garment to ensure neither will damage the clothing nor cause the colors to bleed. After spot testing, loosen the ink stain by lightly spraying hair spray onto the affected area. Then, soak the cotton garment in the solution for 30 minutes, rinse it and allow it to air dry. If the stain remains, dampen a cloth with rubbing alcohol and press it against the stain.


As the stain lifts, change the cloth to keep the ink from bleeding. Once it vanishes, dab the area with water and dry with a cloth.

Remove Ink Stains From Polyester Without Pen Ink Remover

You can remove ink stains from polyester without a pen ink remover as well. Begin by spot testing an inconspicuous area with rubbing alcohol to ensure it does not damage the clothing. Stretch the stained area of the polyester over the top of a glass jar and slowly drip the rubbing alcohol through the stain. The ink should drip from the garment and collect in the bottom of the jar.


Once removed, rinse the garment and allow it to dry. Then, wash the garment normally and use a color-safe bleach if the garment's label allows. After the wash cycle, allow the garment to air dry to ensure the ink stain is gone. Avoid running the garment through a dry cycle until the ink stain completely disappears.


Remove Water-Based Ink Stains

Water-based ink stains are generally easier to remove than oil-based stains from ballpoint and felt-tipped pens. Water-based inks respond to laundry detergents and spot treatments. If the ink is fresh, vigorously blot the affected area with a cotton ball so that the ink will transfer to the cotton ball. Do not spread or rub the stain or you will push the ink deeper into the fabric's fibers.


For the remaining stain, wash the garment in the washing machine with cool or warm water; however, be sure to avoid washing with hot water. Hot water causes the stain to set faster. If you cannot remove the stain after a single wash, soak the affected area with detergent or soap, giving the detergent time to soak into the fibers and lift the ink stain. Then, return to blotting the stain.


Once the ink stain is completely removed, dry the garment normally. It is critical that you do not dry the garment in a dryer while the stain is still visible or the heat will set the stain in place.



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