Ink can be difficult to remove because it's made of oil-based dyes that cling tightly to the fabric fibers in clothing or other materials. It takes time and effort to get rid of an ink stain completely, but if you learn how to do it, you'll save yourself some money by doing the job at home instead of having a professional do it. Speaking of stubborn stains, you can also learn more about how to get red dye out of clothes on our blog!
In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know about ink stains when it comes to removing them quickly, effectively, and without leaving a long-term mark on your possessions. Let's get started.
What is an ink stain and what causes them?
An ink stain is a spot or ball point pen stain on any type of material that has been discolored by the oil-based dyes in an ink pen, marker, or laundry detergent. Dyes are an overused approach to coloring because they do not fade easily. Even if you manage to remove all traces of dye from your fabrics, it will probably reappear when the fabric comes in contact with water again – making them ideal if you want to mark clothes, towels, and other materials at home or in commercial settings.
Moreover, ink is a hiding stain, and it can be difficult to identify by sight alone. If you aren't sure if an item of clothing has been stained with ink, you'll need to test it before going ahead with any cleaning procedures.
How to identify the type of ink you have on your clothes
On colored fabrics, only the color will come out when treating a wet-ink stain – turning your jeans pink instead of blue for instance. The same goes for black or dark-colored garments: To remove the white “ghost” residue that appears as a result of using bleach or another strong cleaner, use a prewash stain remover first and follow up with a chlorine-free product afterward.
Here are some common types of ink stains found on clothing:
- Ballpoint pen ink stains are slow to dry, making them easy to miss while dressing, but they're also very difficult to remove once they have dried. When removing ballpoint ink from clothes, use a gentle stain remover that will not cause color loss or damage the material being treated.
- Dye-based inks found on fiber-tipped pens and markers can be removed easily when wet with a mild soap solution or stain remover in warm water. Once the dye has been dissolved in a liquid, it can simply be rinsed off or laundered away in cold water before being sent through the laundry machine along with your other garments.
- Permanent marker stains require acetone or another strong solvent as well as an absorbent for drawing out the seeped-in dye. In case you don't have a solvent handy, etch away as much of the marker as possible by gently rubbing it with a dry cloth or balled up tissue paper before working on removing stains from your clothes – this will prevent further staining and make treatment easier.
- Carbon-based ink leaves a smeary mess behind when used to create pictures or designs on fabric, but it can also be treated using a laundry prewash stain remover without fear of color loss or damage to clothes fibers. To remove carbon ink from cotton fabrics such as sheets and pillowcases, use warm water and dish soap before laundering in cold water. This will cause less harm to the fabric than hot water or harsher laundry detergents.
How to remove old ink stains from clothes
- If possible, take the stained garment outside before using any cleaners because bleach can cause discoloration in fabrics exposed to sunlight after being treated. Once you're ready to start treating it at home, soak the garment overnight in a mixture of warm water and dish soap to loosen up stubborn dried-in stains. This method does not work on all fabrics, so it may be necessary to try one of the more abrasive treatments below.
- To remove ink stains from clothes without using dish soap, spray a prewash stain remover directly onto the soiled area and rub at it with a stiff brush or toothbrush before laundering according to the care label instructions.
- If you don't have any pre-wash stain removers in your laundry supplies yet still want to save your treasured evening gown from the bin, you can use white vinegar instead: Pour 1 part vinegar into 2 parts water and launder as usual following up with a chlorine-free bleach if needed.
- For old ballpoint pen stains that refuse to budge even after trying dish soap, prewash stain remover, and vinegar, try rubbing a bar of glycerin soap onto the affected area or dab it with milk before laundering. This will help draw out the pigment from deep inside the fibers of your clothes without bleaching it away.
- For ink stains caused by permanent markers, use a dry-cleaning solvent to remove as much of the color as possible. Once you're done cleaning it, then launder using regular laundry detergent in hot water – this will cause less harm to fabric than bleach or other harsh cleaners.
Removing ink stains from your upholstery
If you want to clean upholstery with ease, first try dabbing the affected area with a cotton ball soaked in mineral oil to draw out as much of the stain as possible before laundering it. If mineral oil doesn't work, you can try using rubbing alcohol for colorfast or delicate fabrics such as silk and wool instead.
Washable materials such as acrylic and polyester should be washed using warm water and mild laundry detergents after treatment because these types of fabric face damage caused by bleaches and harsh chemicals.
How do you clean a suede couch?
If you want to clean a suede couch that has been stained by pen ink while maintaining the softness of suede, you can try using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap before laundering it. This ensures that the ink gets thoroughly removed without doing damage to the fibers.
If you're in a hurry, just remove as much of the stain as possible with tweezers before throwing your suede rug into the washing machine using warm water and mild laundry detergent – spot treat any leftover stains after it's done soaking.
Final thoughts on how to remove ink stains
In conclusion, removing ink stains can be quite difficult. A lot of factors will need to be considered, such as the age and type of stain.
To avoid this problem, you should try to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Remember to always be careful when using items that are filled with ink around your possessions. If you get ink stains on such possessions, take swift action by following the tips above.