How to Remove Set In Ink Stains

There's nothing like discovering the ink pen in your shirt pocket after it has gone through the dryer. Removing set in ink stains can often be a trying exercise, as whether it is a dryer full of ink-spotted clothes, or finding a leaking ink pen under your desk, ink stains are considered problem stains and difficult to remove. Removing set in ink often requires repetitive attempts to thoroughly remove the entire stain.

Remove Set In Ink Stains

Removing Set In Ink Stains from Washable Fabric

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Prewash stain treatment
  • Laundry detergent
  • Clean, white towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clear fingernail polish remover
  • Chlorine or color-safe bleach
  • Commercial dye remover

Apply a prewash stain treatment to the stained area and allow to penetrate the stain for 15 minutes. Wash according to label directions in a high-quality laundry detergent. Remove from washer. If the stain remains, do not dry in the dryer as the heat can further set the ink into the fabric. 

Position the stained area of the fabric over a folded white towel. This will prevent the ink stain from transferring onto other parts of the clothing. Wet another towel with rubbing alcohol and gently blot the ink stain. Avoid rubbing as this will spread the ink. Remove the towel underneath the stain and refold it so that a clean section is in contact with the back of the stained area. Repeat the blotting process with a clean section of towel until the stain is removed or no longer fading onto the white towels. If the stain is removed, rinse with cold water and launder as usual. If the stain remains, rinse with cold water and move on to another treatment. 

Blot clear fingernail polish remover over the ink stain using the same technique used with the rubbing alcohol. Repeat until the stain is removed or stops fading onto the white towels, and then rinse thoroughly. If the stain is removed, wash normally. If the stain persists, wash using chlorine bleach, if safe for the fabric. Use color-safe bleach on colored fabrics. If the ink still remains on white fabrics, use a commercial dye remover. Soak the entire clothing according to the manufacturer directions.

Removing Set In Ink Stains from Carpet

When ink remains on a carpet for a long period of time, it begins to set into the carpet. The longer the ink remains, the harder it becomes to remove. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Mild dishwashing detergent
  • Ammonia
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle of tap water
  • Clean, white towels
  1. Begin by gently blotting the set-in ink stain with a towel dipped in a mixture of 1 teaspoon mild dishwashing liquid and 1 cup warm water. Avoid rubbing as it spreads the stain and breaks down the carpet fibers. Blot with a dry white cloth to remove the excess moisture. 
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon ammonia with 1/2 cup warm water and gently blot it into the stained area using a clean towel. Blot dry with a dry cloth.  If the stain is removed, repeat the first step and finish by rinsing and drying the carpet. If the stain is not removed, proceed to the next step. 
  3. Prepare a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup water. Gently blot on the ink stain using a clean towel. Blot with a dry white cloth.
  4. Blot again with the detergent solution to remove any remaining stain removing agents. Blot with a dry towel.
  5. Rinse the carpet by spraying with water and blotting with a dry towel. Repeat until thoroughly rinsed.

 Dry the carpet by placing folded, dry towels over the cleaned area. Put heavy books inside a plastic bag and place on top of the towels for weight. This helps draw moisture out of the carpet. Leave the towels in place until the carpet is dry. 

Removing Set In Ink from Countertops

Countertops can be stained by the ink transfer off of food pricing labels or from an errant mark of a felt marking pen. Indelible inks often set in quickly, leaving a near-permanent mark on lighter counters. The key to removal is to use gentle products that will not harm the surface of the countertop. 

What You'll Need Before You Start:

  • Spray household cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Warm water
  • Clean, white towels

Spray the stained area of the countertop thoroughly with a household cleaner. Allow to remain on the stain for five minutes in order to draw out the stain. Blot away with a damp cloth and then rinse the countertop with warm water. 

If the stain persists, make a thick paste of baking soda and water. Apply to the stain and allow to penetrate for five minutes. Gently rub using a clean, white towel. Continue rubbing until the stain is removed. Rinse the countertop with warm water. 

Stubborn ink stains on lightly colored countertops may require the use of chlorine bleach. Dampen a white towel with bleach and blot onto the stained area. Allow to remain on the area for only a minute. Rinse with warm water. 

Many people suggest the use of hair spray or milk to remove ink stains, both of which can introduce new stains when used on fabric and carpet. Once an ink stain has set into clothing, carpet or laminate countertop, it can be difficult to remove. Repeating basic ink removal stains over and over may remove set-in ink stains successfully.