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How to Get Ink Out of Clothes: 5 Easy Methods

The Sauce Boss
Jun 21, 2024
Laundry Tips
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To get ink out of clothes, apply rubbing alcohol or hairspray to the stained area before rinsing with cold water. These solvents dilute the ink, making it easier to wash out. Always test the alcohol on an inconspicuous part of the garment.

Ink stains are notoriously stubborn. Maybe you washed a pair of jeans with a pen in the pocket. Or maybe your little one decided to turn your favorite shirt into a canvas for their art project. Now you’re stuck with an unsightly splotch of color.

The good news is that ink stains are almost never permanent and come out with a little TLC. That said, you’ll need to know what type of ink you’re dealing with before you try any stain-removal techniques.

Water-based ink, often found in gel pens, washable markers, and fountain pens, is easier to remove. Oil-based ink, commonly found in ballpoint pens, tends to be harder to remove since it’s thick, greasy, and hydrophobic (AKA water-repellent).

In this article, we’ll walk you through five ways to get ink stains out of clothes—whether they’re from water-based or oil-based ink—with materials you most likely have lying around your house.

Pro tip: Always test for colorfastness before you try a stain-removal technique. Start on an inconspicuous area, like the inside seam. If the color of your garment doesn’t change, you’re in the clear to continue.

How to Remove Ink Stains with Rubbing Alcohol

Pre-treating an ink stain with alcohol helps break down the pigments so they can be easily lifted out of the fabric.

Best for: Cotton, polyester, nylon, and blended fabrics

Materials: Rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, clean cloth, cold water, laundry pods

Method:

1. Place a cloth under the stained area to prevent the ink from spreading.

2. Dampen a cotton ball or cloth with rubbing alcohol.

3. Gently dab the ink stain, starting from the edges and working inward.

4. Blot with a clean, dry cloth to absorb the ink.

5. Rinse with cold water.

6. Machine wash as usual with an enzyme-based laundry pod

How to Remove Ink Stains with Hairspray

Most hairspray contains alcohol, which breaks up the ink and helps lift it from the fabric fibers.

Best for: Cotton, polyester, and blended fabrics

Materials: Aerosol hairspray, clean cloth, cold water, laundry pods

Method:

1. Place a clean cloth under the stained area.

2. Spray the stain with hairspray until it's well-saturated.

3. Blot with a clean cloth to lift the ink.

4. Repeat until the stain is gone.

5. Rinse with cold water.

6. Launder as usual with a laundry pod.

How to Remove Ink Stains with Vinegar and Cornstarch

Vinegar breaks down ink molecules while cornstarch soaks them up, creating a dynamic duo for stain fighting.

Best for: Cotton, linen, and synthetic fabrics

Materials: Distilled white vinegar, cornstarch, water, laundry pods

Method:

1. Mix equal parts vinegar and cornstarch to form a paste.

2. Apply the paste to the ink stain.

3. Let it dry completely.

4. Brush off the dried paste.

5. Rinse with cold water.

6. Machine wash as usual

How to Remove Ink Stains with Dish Soap and Baking Soda

Dish soap breaks down the ink's oils and pigments, while baking soda acts as a natural abrasive to lift the stain.

Best for: Cotton, polyester, and durable blends

Materials: Dishwashing detergent, baking soda, water, toothbrush, laundry pods

Method:

1. Apply a few drops of dish soap directly to the ink stain.

2. Sprinkle baking soda over the dish soap.

3. Gently scrub the stained area with a toothbrush.

4. Flush out the paste with cold water.

5. Machine wash with a laundry pod.

How to Remove Ink Stains with Lemon Juice and Salt

The acid in lemon juice breaks down the ink, and salt helps scrub it away.

Best for: Cotton, linen, and durable synthetics

Materials: Lemon juice, salt, laundry pods

Method:

1. Squeeze lemon juice onto the ink stain.

2. Sprinkle salt over the lemon juice.

3. Gently rub the mixture into the stain.

4. Rinse with cold water.

5. Launder as usual.

Common Questions About Getting Ink Out of Clothes

Now that you know all the best ways to get ink out of your clothes, let’s cover some common questions you might have after an inky incident.

Are Ink Stains Permanent?

Ink stains can be a real headache, but they're rarely permanent. With the right techniques and a little bit of patience, you can usually get rid of them—even if they seem stubborn at first.

Remember: The key is to act fast. The longer you let the ink stain sit, the harder it is to remove.

How to Get Ballpoint Pen Ink Out of Clothes

Ballpoint pen ink is oil-based, so you’ll likely need to use alcohol as a solvent to break it up. First, dab the stain with rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or hand sanitizer and dab it onto the stain. Then blot it with a clean cloth and rinse with cold water before tossing it in the washing machine.

How to Remove Dried Ink From Clothes

To get dried ink out of clothes, apply some rubbing alcohol or a good dose of hairspray to the stain, let it sit for a bit, then rinse with cold water before washing as usual. You may need to go a few extra rounds with this technique to erase all the ink.

Does Rubbing Alcohol Damage Clothes?

Rubbing alcohol is generally safe for most fabrics, but it's always a good idea to test it on a small, hidden area first. Just make sure to rinse thoroughly and avoid using it on delicate materials like silk or wool.

Fight Stains and Smelly Sexy with Laundry Sauce

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’ve erased all the evidence of your inky incident. Don’t just settle for stain-free clothes, though. Your clothes should smell as amazing as they look. That’s where Laundry Sauce comes in.

On top of powerful stain-fighting enzymes, our laundry pods are infused with luxury scents like Australian Sandalwood, Egyptian Rose, Italian Bergamot, and more. Say goodbye to blue sludge that smells like “spring breeze” and indulge in the best-smelling laundry detergent in the game.

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