How To Remove Ink Stains From Fabric: A Step-By-Step Guide

Finding ink stains on your favorite shirt, pants, or other fabric items can be incredibly frustrating. However, removing ink stains doesn’t have to be an impossible task. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can get rid of ink stains on fabric and restore your clothes and textiles.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Try blotting up fresh stains immediately with a paper towel. For dried stains, apply hairspray or rubbing alcohol to the stain before washing.

Use a stain remover stick or soak the fabric in milk or lemon juice to help break down stubborn stains.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through all the steps and methods for removing both fresh and dried ink stains from fabric and textiles. You’ll learn which ingredients work best for different types of ink and fabric.

With a bit of patience and effort, your stained clothes and textiles can look as good as new again.

Assess the Ink Stain

Before attempting to remove an ink stain from fabric, it is important to assess the stain to determine the best course of action. There are two key factors to consider when assessing an ink stain: the type of ink and whether the stain is fresh or dried.

Identify the type of ink

The first step in assessing an ink stain is to identify the type of ink. Different types of ink may require different methods of removal. Most ink stains can be categorized as either water-based or permanent ink.

Water-based ink: This type of ink is commonly found in fountain pens, gel pens, and markers. Water-based ink is typically easier to remove from fabric compared to permanent ink stains.Permanent ink: Permanent ink is commonly found in ballpoint pens and permanent markers. This type of ink is designed to be long-lasting and can be more challenging to remove from fabric.

Determine if the stain is fresh or dried

The second step in assessing an ink stain is to determine whether the stain is fresh or dried. This information is crucial because the method of stain removal can vary depending on the state of the ink.

Fresh ink stains: If the ink stain is still wet, it is considered fresh. Fresh ink stains are generally easier to remove compared to dried stains. It is important to act quickly when dealing with a fresh ink stain to prevent it from setting into the fabric.Dried ink stains: If the ink stain has had time to dry, it is considered dried. Dried ink stains can be more challenging to remove, but with the right techniques and products, it is still possible to achieve successful stain removal.

Understanding the type of ink and the state of the stain will help you determine the most effective method for removing an ink stain from fabric. By assessing the stain correctly, you can increase your chances of successfully restoring your fabric to its original condition.

Remove Fresh Ink Stains

Blot with a paper towel

When dealing with a fresh ink stain, the first step is to act quickly. Grab a clean paper towel and gently blot the stained area. Be careful not to rub the stain, as this can spread it further into the fabric.

Rinse with cold water

After blotting, rinse the stained fabric under cold running water. This will help dilute the ink and prevent it from setting into the fibers. Hold the fabric with the stained area facing down, allowing the water to flow through and carry away the ink.

Use a stain remover stick

If the ink stain persists, try using a stain remover stick. These handy products are designed specifically for removing tough stains from fabric. Apply the stain remover directly to the ink stain, following the instructions on the packaging.

Gently rub the fabric together to work the stain remover into the fibers.

Soak in milk or lemon juice

If the stain still won’t budge, you can try soaking the fabric in either milk or lemon juice. Both of these household items have natural properties that can help break down ink stains. Simply fill a bowl or sink with enough milk or lemon juice to completely submerge the stained fabric.

Let it soak for about 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water and launder as usual.

Remember, the key to successfully removing ink stains is to act quickly and avoid heat. Heat can set the stain, making it more difficult to remove. If you’re unsure about the best method to remove a specific ink stain, consult a professional cleaner or refer to reliable sources such as Good Housekeeping or Stain Removal 101 for more detailed instructions.

Tackle Dried Ink Stains

Dried ink stains on fabric can be stubborn to remove, but with the right techniques and products, you can successfully get rid of them. Here are some effective methods to tackle dried ink stains:

Apply rubbing alcohol or hairspray

One of the easiest ways to remove dried ink stains from fabric is by using rubbing alcohol or hairspray. Both of these products contain solvents that can break down the ink and make it easier to remove.

Simply apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol or hairspray directly onto the stain and gently blot it with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until the stain is completely gone.

Use glycerin to loosen the stain

Glycerin is another effective solution for removing dried ink stains. It works by loosening the ink and making it easier to remove from the fabric. To use glycerin, apply a small amount to the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Then, gently blot the stain with a clean cloth.

Rinse the fabric with water to remove any residue.

Make a baking soda paste

Baking soda is a versatile household ingredient that can help remove dried ink stains from fabric. To make a baking soda paste, mix equal parts baking soda and water until it forms a thick consistency. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Then, gently scrub the stain with a soft-bristle brush or sponge. Rinse the fabric with water to remove any residue.

Try commercial stain removers

If the above methods don’t work, you can try using a commercial stain remover specifically designed for ink stains. There are many different brands available on the market, so be sure to read the instructions and follow them carefully.

Apply the stain remover to the ink stain and let it sit for the recommended amount of time. Then, wash the fabric as usual.

Remember, it’s important to always test any stain removal method or product on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the entire stain. This will help ensure that the method or product doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration.

For more information on removing ink stains from fabric, you can visit websites like The Spruce or Good Housekeeping.

Launder the Item

Once you discover an ink stain on your fabric, it’s important to act quickly to prevent it from setting and becoming more difficult to remove. The first step is to launder the item as soon as possible. This will help to loosen and remove the ink particles from the fabric fibers.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you start the laundering process, gather the necessary supplies. You will need a stain remover, laundry detergent, and access to a washing machine. It’s recommended to use a stain remover that is specifically designed to tackle ink stains.

Pre-Treat the Stain

Before placing the item in the washing machine, pre-treat the ink stain. Apply the stain remover directly to the affected area and gently rub it in using a clean cloth or sponge. Allow the stain remover to sit on the stain for a few minutes to penetrate the ink.

Wash the Item

Once the stain has been pre-treated, it’s time to wash the item. Follow the care instructions on the fabric label and set your washing machine to the appropriate temperature and cycle. Add laundry detergent as usual, and include any additional stain-fighting products that are safe for the fabric.

Check for Remaining Stain

After the wash cycle is complete, check the item for any remaining ink stain. If the stain is still visible, repeat the pre-treating and washing process. It may take a few attempts to completely remove the stain.

Air Dry or Machine Dry

Once the stain is removed, decide whether to air dry or machine dry the item. Some fabrics may be more delicate and require air drying to avoid damage. If machine drying, be sure to follow the fabric’s care instructions to prevent any shrinkage or fabric distortion.

By following these steps to launder the item, you can effectively remove ink stains from fabric and restore your clothing or other textiles to their original condition.

Prevent Future Ink Stains

Take care when using pens and markers

To prevent ink stains on fabric, it is important to exercise caution when using pens and markers. Avoid applying excessive pressure while writing, as this can cause ink to leak or splatter onto your clothes.

Additionally, be mindful of the angle at which you hold your writing instrument, as this can also affect the likelihood of ink stains.

It is also a good idea to opt for pens and markers that are known for their reliability and minimal ink leakage. There are many brands available that offer high-quality writing instruments designed to minimize the chances of accidental ink stains.

Store writing instruments properly

Proper storage of writing instruments can go a long way in preventing ink stains. When not in use, make sure to cap your pens and markers tightly to prevent any accidental leakage. If possible, store them in an upright position to further minimize the risk of ink spills.

It is also important to keep your writing instruments away from extreme temperatures, as heat can cause the ink to expand and leak. Store them in a cool, dry place to ensure their longevity and reduce the chances of ink stains on your fabrics.

Act quickly when spills happen

Accidents happen, and ink spills are no exception. However, acting quickly when spills occur can significantly increase the chances of successfully removing the stain. As soon as a spill happens, blot the affected area gently with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much ink as possible.

Avoid rubbing or scrubbing, as this can spread the stain further.

Once you have blotted the stain, treat it with an appropriate stain remover or a mixture of dish soap and water. Gently work the solution into the fabric using a soft brush or sponge. Rinse the area with cold water and repeat the process until the stain is no longer visible.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure. By taking precautions while using writing instruments and storing them properly, you can minimize the chances of ink stains on your fabrics. However, in case of accidents, acting quickly and using the right stain removal techniques can help you successfully remove ink stains from fabric.


Removing ink stains from fabric may require some trial and error based on the type of ink, fabric, and how long the stain has set. But with the techniques outlined in this guide, you can successfully tackle fresh or dried ink stains on most washable fabrics.

Just remember to always check clothing labels and test cleaning methods on small hidden areas first.

With the right stain removal products and laundering methods, even stubborn ink stains can be lifted. Taking preventative steps can also help avoid ink accidents and make stains easier to treat when they do occur.

Keep this guide handy whenever you find yourself dealing with a pesky ink stain, and your clothes and textiles will look like new again in no time.

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