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How To Remove Ink Stains

Pens and markers come in handy for work but ink leakage is disastrous. It is difficult enough to remove ink from our hands, let alone cleaning ink stains off fabrics.

From leaving your pen uncapped when you tucked it into your pocket, to a careless stroke you made on your white shirt while holding a pen; these accidents make an unsightly mark on your clothes. Ink stains are relatively persistent compared to other types of stains. This is simply because they are manufactured to last for a long time.

There are different methods of removing ink stains, based on the situation encountered. Depending on the composition of the ink, some stains can be removed by regular laundry detergent, while more stubborn ones require special solvents and treatment.

For example, ballpoint pen ink is easier to handle than fountain pen ink and artist pen ink. This is because ballpoint pen ink is water-based whereas fountain pen ink and artist pen ink may be gel-based.

No matter the type of ink, it should be treated as soon as possible to minimize the damage.

At the moment of the incident, use a paper towel and press it against the fabric, blotting very firmly to absorb the excess ink if it is still wet. Remember not to rub the stain to prevent the ink from spreading.

Removing Water-Based Ink

Water-based ink is water-soluble; it is generally non-toxic. Although there is no guarantee that it can be removed by simply rinsing through with water, you need not use dedicated ink-remover to deal with water-based ink stains. Common brands with water-based ink pens are Faber-Castell and Stabilo.

To remove the ink stain, first dab the stain area with water to dampen the blot. Next, apply regular laundry detergent on the fabric covering the entire surface of the blot.

Scrub the fabric gently using a brush; work on both surfaces – the front then the back. This way, the detergent is able to cleanse the ink stain thoroughly.

Finally, rinse the fabric under cold water until the detergent is completely washed off. Wash the fabric as instructed on the label.

Should the stain persist after this cleaning process, this calls for a stronger solvent to remove it. You may proceed with the methods for removing oil-based ink.

Removing Oil-Based Ink With Alcohol

If you only associate alcohol with drinking and drunkards, you would be pleasantly surprised that it actually works wonders with your laundry.

Pure alcohol (not liquors) can be used to remove oil-based ink stains. It has a component that neutralises the pigment in ink and makes it disappear. Alcohol can be bought from pharmacies or hardware stores, and it usually comes in a labelled clear bottle.

Firstly, dip a cotton swab into alcohol and quickly rub it on the stain before the alcohol evaporates. Repeat this step to ensure that enough alcohol is applied to cover the entire spot. For large stains, you may use a small sponge instead of a cotton swab.

As you are applying alcohol to the ink stain, you may have found that the ink is beginning to wear off. The less dried up the stain is on the fabric, the easier it is to remove.

If the ink is not completely removed yet, rinse the fabric under cold water and apply alcohol to it again. With each application, rinse the fabric in water in order to wash off the excess ink.

Once the ink is completely removed, proceed to wash the fabric as directed and dry it.

It is important to note that not all fabrics are suitable to be treated with alcohol. For delicate fabrics or dark-coloured fabrics, alcohol may cause them to be damaged or de-colourised. Therefore, it is essential to test the alcohol on a small inconspicuous spot first.

Removing Oil-Based Ink With Cornstarch

An alternative solution is to opt for cornstarch. Cornstarch may not be as effective as alcohol in dealing with ink, but it is definitely safer for most types of fabrics.

Mix two parts of cornstarch and one part of water in a dish to make a paste. Then, rub the paste on the stained area and leave it until the paste dries up into powder form.

Then, dust off the powder and rinse the fabric under cold water. If the ink stain persists, you may repeat the steps until the ink is completely gone.

After you have successfully gotten rid of the ink, you may proceed to wash the fabric and dry it as usual.


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