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How to Remove Ink Stains


By Louisa Price


Gone were those manuscript classes in school when I wrote with a fountain pen. I would carefully manoeuvre my pen so that the hooded nib would not transfer any ink onto my uniform. Even though I no longer use fountain pens, I still get highly noticeably blotches of ink on my cotton clothing or worse, on beautifully woven tablecloth from leaking ball point pens.


Before we tackle the issue of removing ink stains, we have to determine the type of stain to correctly get rid of them.


Writing ink come in various forms. The inks that used in fountain pens, ball point pens, and gel pens vary from each other.


Fountain pen inks and gel pens are water based while your regular ball point pens, uses a synthetic colourant with an alcohol solvent in a thick paste, are usually oil based. Most of the inks in pens today tend to dry very quickly thus leaving a permanent stain.


Ink from a fountain pen is easier to remove than ink from a ball point pen. Always remember that whatever the type of ink, it is always easier to remove ink while it is still wet. Ink that has dried up is difficult to remove.

There are quite a number of tried and tested methods to
get rid of ink stains. In all methods, the golden rule is to try to remove the stain as quickly as possible before it starts to set and never ever soak the fabric in hot water. Many people mistakenly think that hot water will dissolve and dissipate the ink. Hot water will only worsen the condition as it locks the stain and causing much difficulties to fully get the stain out later.

To remove ink stain, I always start off by dabbing with a clean wet sponge until no more ink is lifted. Do this as gently as possible because using immense pressure will only sink the ink more firmly into the fabric. Then allow the stain to dry.


Next, mist the area with your hairspray to loosen the remaining ink. Place the affected clothing between a few sheets of super absorbent paper towels, one in the front and one in the back. Working carefully from the back side of the stain, blot into the other sheet until you see the stain is lifted up.


Alternatively, place some heavy weight over it. Repeat this process using fresh paper towels, if necessary. Wait for a couple of minutes. The stain should be gone by now. Use a pre-treatment on stain and wash per care label instructions.

If the stain is not gone even after blotting out the hair spray, you can use this other method. But make sure the clothing is completely dry before doing so.

In a bowl and mix up equal proportions of Isopropyl alcohol with household vinegar(not apple cider). Then place this mix directly on the ink stained area. Using a soft toothbrush, gently brush the affected area till the stain starts to disappear. Once the stain is gone, rinse clothing thoroughly in cold water. Launder and dry normally.


Other Ways of Ink Stain Removal


Dishwashing Liquid
Dry the ink stained area and then take 2 parts of liquid dish washing detergent and mix it with one part alcohol. Soak the stain for about 15 minutes then rinse. Wash clothing normally.

Lemon Juice
Another method that is also effective in removing ink stains is the use of detergent, lemon juice and water. To use, apply some neutral laundry detergent to the back of the stain ridden item. Then, place the item under the running cold water and rinse it thoroughly. If any stains remain, you can retreat it with equal amount of ammonia, lemon juice and cold water. Once you see little or no remnants of the stain, you should then wash your clothing normally.

Baking Soda
Mix equal parts of baking soda and water in a container. Pour it directly into the ink stain. Next, rinse the ink stained item thoroughly and wash like you normally would.

Commercial Ink Stain Removers
Many ink solvents are available in the market today. Keep one handy at home. You never know when you need it. As most commercially formulated removers are very concentrated and strong, always test an inconspicuous area for colourfastness before treating any stains.

Useful hints when
removing ink stains:

If using super absorbent cloth instead of paper towels, ensure that the cloth is white. Coloured cloth could run colour and stain the affected area even more.

If the stain remains even after you have tried the above, do not use harsh chemicals or solvents on the fabric. This will ruin the garment and render it unusable.

If all things fail, you can always get it dyed to a darker shade than its original to hide the ink stain.

how to remove ink stains

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