October 20, 2021

How to Get Ink out of Clothes

Ink Stain on Garment

Ink stains just…sort of happen, don’t they? Your cat startles you and somehow your pen goes right across your sweater. Your wrestling children knock your inkwell right onto your favorite pair of jeans. However, it happens, now you’ve got an inky mess on your hands. You’re starting to wonder: how do you get ink out of clothes? Can you get ink out of clothes? Spoiler alert…yes!


Breathe easy, pen lovers. We’re here to kick start your ink-removing journey, whether you’re tackling ballpoint pen or marker stains.


Pre-Game Pep Talk


  1. Don’t let ink stains hang out. The faster you can treat, the better.
  2. Blot, don’t rub.
  3. Heat sets stains. So don’t put those ink-stained garments into the dryer until that stain is completely gone.


How to Get Pen Ink Out of Clothes:

Tackle oil-based ink stains from ball-point and other pens using the following steps.


1. Blot with a Paper Towel:


Avoid the temptation to rub or agitate the stain. Just dab repeatedly until no more ink comes off. If none comes off, that’s okay too.


2. Pre-Treat:


Put a paper towel behind the stain, then soak the area with an ink-friendly solvent like rubbing alcohol, hair spray, or hand sanitizer. Test a small patch first for color fastness.


3. Apply Stain Remover:


Spritz with stain remover, with plant-based ingredients to help loosen the stain. Let sit for 10-15 minutes or according to product instructions.


4. Wash:


Wash normally with a laundry detergent with plant-based ingredients powered by stain-fighting enzymes. Whatever wash temperature you normally use will work fine.  


5. Inspect Before Drying:


Make sure the ink stain is totally gone before drying, as the dryer’s heat will cause the stain to further set. If you can air dry, even better.


Stain still there? No worries. Repeat steps 2-5 as needed.


How to Get Water-Based Ink Out of Clothes:

Water-based inks found in fountain and gel pens are among the easiest to remove. Here’s how to get it done without breaking a sweat.


1. Blot with a Microfiber Cloth:


Dab until no more ink comes off.


2. Apply Stain Remover:


Apply your favorite stain remover with plant-based ingredients and let it go to work loosening that ink stain. Allow the stain spray to sit for 10-15 minutes, or according to usage instructions.


3. Blot a Second Time:


A bit more of the ink should come free during this second round of blotting, but it’s fine if not.


4. Wash:


Wash with like colors (or by itself for optimal results) using your regular laundry detergent. Selecting a cold-water wash can help reduce energy costs, though some people feel better fighting stains with warm water.


5. Inspect Before Drying:


Take a good peek at your ink stain and avoid the dryer if the stain is still visible. Pre-treat and wash again as needed, then dry when completely ink-free.


There! Spread the word…you know how to get ink out of clothes! Now back to drawing, listing, journaling, lettering or whatever inky fun makes you happy.

Products to get you started on cleaning!