How to Remove Ink from Clothing

If you need to remove ink stains from clothing, then it is important to know that ink is a complex stain. There are many different types of ink, and each one reacts differently to fabric and cleaners. It is almost impossible to know how every ink will react. Because of this, ink is known as a hard stain to remove.

Remove Ink From Clothing

The best way to remove ink from clothing is to treat it as soon as possible. The longer the stain remains on clothing, the harder it becomes to remove. Heat will also set ink stains, making them difficult to erase completely. Many ink stains resulting from washing and drying a pen are often impossible to remove from clothing.

Removing Ink Pen from Clothing

The ink from ball-point pens often contains a oil/wax to provide a gliding ink. This ingredient addition results in an ink that is considered a combination stain. To remove the ink from clothing, you must follow a two-step process. The first step removes the oil or wax and the second step removes the dye. 

What You Will Need Before You Start:

  • Clean, white towels
  • Dry cleaning solvent, or alcohol
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • All-fabric powdered bleach
  • Color-safe or chlorine bleach
  1. To remove the wax portion of the stain, you will need to use a solvent, such as dry cleaning solvent or alcohol. Do not apply hairspray to the stain as many brands contain ingredients which result in further staining. 
  2. Fold a towel and place it underneath the ink-stained area. This will prevent the stain from leaching onto the fabric or surface beneath the stain. 
  3. Apply a generous amount of dry cleaning solvent, or alcohol, to a towel.
  4. Gently blot around the perimeter of the stain to create a barrier that prevents the stain from spreading as you work to remove it. 
  5. Blot the ink stain. You will need to reposition the bottom towel and use new sections of the blotting towel as the ink removes from the fabric. By doing so, you are always lifting new ink from the stain, not reapplying the already-removed ink.
  6. Once the stain stops leaching, apply a thick layer of heavy-duty laundry detergent and wash as normal. 

This process may remove the dye portion of the stain. If it does not, you will need to use additional stain-removal steps to remove the stain. 

  1. To remove the dye portion of the stain, you will need to bleach the stain. 
  2. Begin with an all-fabric bleach. This type of bleach, usually in a powdered form is the least damaging option and is safe for use on the widest variety of clothing. Prepare a diluted solution of all-fabric bleach and water. Soak the fabric according to the bleach directions. 
  3. Launder using heavy-duty laundry detergent.
  4. If the stain persists, soak in color-safe or chlorine bleach, depending on the type of fabric. 
  5. Launder as normal.

Removing ink stains from clothing is often a difficult task. But if you work quickly and use the proper stain removal products, you increase your chances of success. 

Removing Indian Ink from Clothing

India ink, also known as Indian Ink, is a simple ink used for drawing and art. The most basic forms consist of a fine soot combined with water. Stabilizing ingredients may be included in the ink, such as gelatin or shellac. Due to the basic composition of India ink, it is often removable stain from a variety of fabrics.

What You Will Need Before You Start:

  • Clean, white towels
  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • All-fabric powdered bleach
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Commercial dye remover

Place a folded towel underneath the stained area. Apply a thick layer of heavy-duty laundry detergent over the stain. Allow to penetrate the stain for up to 30 minutes. Rinse under running water until the water runs clear. 

If the ink stain remains, soak the entire piece of clothing in a solution of all-fabric powdered bleach, diluted according to the product label. Soak for up to one hour. Wash in the hottest water allowed by the type of fabric and the usual amount of laundry detergent.

For persistent stains, soaking in a chlorine bleach may be required. This is generally only recommended for white fabrics, as most colored fabrics are not chlorine bleach safe. Place the entire garment in a diluted solution of bleach and water. Allow to remain for 15 minutes. Place alone in the washing machine and wash as normal. 

Ink stains that remain after chlorine bleach cannot be removed by bleaching processes. A commercial dye remover may be effective at removing the stain. Follow the package directions for the dye remover and then launder as normal.