Cleaning and Maintenance

8 Ways to Remove Ink Stains from Clothes

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This article is part of a series on how to remove all sorts of stains from your clothes, in this case, ink. So if you want to remove other types of stains from your clothes check out the following articles:

How to Remove Rust Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Oil Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Grease Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Deodorant Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Coffee Stains from Clothes
How to Remove Blood Stains from Clothes

1. Types of Ink Stains

Small accidents in the office can happen and you can easily end up with a big ink spill on your shirt. Removing ink stains isn’t a particularly difficult process. It’s important to figure out more precisely the type of ink that caused the stain. Some ink types are easier to deal with than others. Thankfully, most ink stains on clothing usually come from water-based inks which can be swiftly removed. Permanent inks can be particularly hard to break down using conventional methods.

When it comes to fresh ink stains, it’s critical to try to absorb it with a cloth first. Make sure you’re careful not to spread the stain. Use only gentle dabbing motions to lift as much ink as possible from the stained area. If the ink stain is older, things will be a bit tougher, but you can still go ahead and try the methods below.

2. Laundry Detergent

The classic method works ideally for water-based ink. After you blotted out the ink stain, add some liquid detergent and let it work on the stain for a few minutes. Try to stick to laundry detergent and avoid dish soap as it won’t work well for this type of stain.

Wash the garment as usual and try to go for the maximum heat setting allowed by that particular item. Look at the care label if you’re not sure. After washing check to see if the stain is gone. Even if there’s a tiny trace left, it’s best to go again through the cleaning steps because otherwise, it will be very hard to get it out once the stain dries.

3. Alcohol

With the help of alcohol, you can eliminate the more stubborn ink stains. It’s a good solution to handle marks from permanent ink types, but keep in mind that it’s not perfect. In the best case scenario, you should be able to at least fade the stain.

Before rubbing alcohol into the stained area, try to test it against an inconspicuous part of the item to ensure it’s safe for the fabric. Place a clean white towel underneath your garment to let the ink seep through and get absorbed by it when you use the alcohol. Make sure you have enough space to move your clothing around to keep the stain on a dry section of the towel to get rid of all the ink and prevent accidental reabsorption.

The process may need to be repeated for the best cleaning effect. Remember to rinse the stained area to remove all the alcohol. If you’re dealing with ballpoint pen ink, you could try to combine this method with regular laundry detergent after you finish rubbing the alcohol.

4. Nail Polish Remover

 

If the alcohol fails to do a good job with the permanent ink stains, perhaps something more powerful like nail polish remover will do the trick. You will need to be extra careful with this method as nail polish remover can be very strong and damage some fabrics. If it passes the usual test on a hidden zone of the garment, you can go ahead and use it to treat the ink stain.

It’s used in a similar manner as alcohol. Just rub the nail polish remover and keep a white towel underneath. When the cleaning job’s done, don’t forget to rinse the nail polish remover thoroughly. While you have good chances to clean permanent ink stains, it still depends on how old your stains are. In some cases, it will basically be impossible to completely eliminate very old permanent ink stains no matter what you try.

5. Alcohol-Based Hairspray

A somewhat unlikely ally in the fight against ink stains, hairspray can be effective for most stains of this kind assuming it contains enough alcohol. It’s important to check the ingredients to make sure you use only an alcohol-based hairspray.

Using hairspray is very convenient as you only need to spray the stained area with plenty of liquid. Let it set for some time, but not longer than two minutes. The next step involves using a clean cloth to blot the stain and lift all the ink from the stain.

6. Milk

This method is worth trying and might even work unexpectedly well to eliminate the ink stain. Put the clothing piece in a milk bath and let it soak overnight. The fabric should be completely submerged. After the process is complete, simply wash the stained cloth with the rest of your laundry.

7. Vinegar and Cornstarch

This is a potent combination that can destroy ink stains from your clothes. Cover the stain in vinegar first, and then add a mixture of vinegar and cornstarch for a boosted cleaning effect. The paste needs to have two parts vinegar and three parts cornstarch. After the paste has dried then you can simply toss the garment into the washing machine.

8. Hand Sanitizer

Given its high alcohol content, hand sanitizer can be a solid solution for removing ink stains from all kinds of fabrics. The thick consistency can also help during the cleaning process. The only downside is that it may contain colorings and other substances which may stain or damage the clothing.

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