How to Get Ink Out of Clothes: 13 Quick Solutions

Don't let an ink stain stand in the way of your big meeting. Get ink out of clothes fast with these quick stain-removal tips.

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Canvas

To remove ballpoint pen from washable canvas, test the rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous spot to ensure it won't damage the fabric. Then place the stained area facedown over the mouth of a jar or glass, holding fabric taut so the ink spot won't spread. Drip rubbing alcohol through the stain. The alcohol pulls the ink along as it drops into the jar. Rinse well. Line-dry, and check that the stain has been removed before laundering per fabric-care instructions. 

Chenille

To treat a ballpoint pen stain on washable chenille, first soak the item for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon mild, clear dish soap and 1 tablespoon white vinegar diluted in 1 quart warm water. Rinse with water and air-dry. If the stain remains, dab with rubbing alcohol (test on an inconspicuous spot first). Rinse with water, and wash as directed on the garment's label. Air-dry and inspect to make sure the stain has been removed before drying as directed again.

Corduroy

To treat a ballpoint pen stain on washable corduroy, first soak the item for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon mild, clear dish soap and 1 tablespoon white vinegar diluted in 1 quart warm water. Rinse with water and air-dry. If the stain remains, dab with rubbing alcohol (test on an inconspicuous spot first). Rinse with water, and wash as directed on the garment's label. Air-dry and inspect to make sure the stain has been removed before drying as directed again.

Cotton

Lightly spritz the cotton with hair spray to loosen the ink stain. Then soak for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar diluted in 1 quart warm water. (Test on an inconspicuous spot first.) Rinse with water and allow to dry. If stain persists, press with absorbent cloth moistened with alcohol. Change cloth as stain lifts. After stain is removed, dab with water, then a dry cloth.

Leather

Apply leather cleaner with a clean cloth ASAP -- preferably within the first six hours after staining. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the leather cleaner.

Linen

To remove ballpoint pen from washable linen, test rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous spot to ensure it won't damage the fabric. Then place the stained area facedown over the mouth of a jar or glass, holding fabric taut so the ink spot won't spread. Drip rubbing alcohol through the stain. The alcohol pulls the ink along as it drops into the jar. Rinse well. Line-dry, and check that the stain has been removed before laundering per fabric-care instructions. 

Nylon

To remove ballpoint pen from nylon, first test the treatment on a hidden corner or seam to check for color damage. Then stretch the stained area over the mouth of a jar or glass. Slowly drip rubbing alcohol through the stain, catching the ink residue in the jar. Rinse and line-dry. Wash, and if necessary, use a color-safe bleach, if the label says it's OK. Air-dry, and make sure the ink is gone before you dry as directed again.

Polyester

To remove ballpoint pen from polyester, first test the treatment on a hidden corner or seam to check for color damage. Then stretch the stained area over the mouth of a jar or glass. Slowly drip rubbing alcohol through the stain, catching the ink residue in the jar. Rinse, and line-dry. Wash, and if necessary, use a color-safe bleach, if the label says it's OK. Air-dry, and make sure the ink is gone before you dry as directed.

Silk

Blot stain with paper towels as soon as possible. Blot with cold water as long as the stain lifts. If stain remains, spray with hairspray, and blot, repeating until stain lifts. Blot with warm water. You also can dip a soft toothbrush in a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar, then gently scrub on the stain. Dab with cold water. Blot dry.

Spandex/Lycra

To remove ballpoint pen from spandex or Lycra, test the treatment on a hidden corner or seam first to check for color damage. Then stretch the stained area over the mouth of a jar or glass. Slowly drip rubbing alcohol through the stain, catching the ink residue in the jar. Rinse, and line-dry. Wash, and if necessary, use a color-safe bleach, if the label says it's OK. Air-dry, and make sure the ink is gone before you dry as directed again.

Suede

To remove a ballpoint pen stain from suede, test in a hidden area with a dab of consumer dry-cleaning solvent with a clean cloth, then apply sparingly on the stain, following the manufacturer's instructions.

Velvet

Note: Be sure to follow the instructions on the garment's label and the manufacturer's instructions on any products mentioned as you go through this process. To treat a ballpoint pen stain on washable velvet, first soak the item for 30 minutes in a solution of 1/2 teaspoon mild, clear dish soap and 1 tablespoon white vinegar diluted in 1 quart warm water. Rinse with water, and air-dry. If the stain remains, dab with rubbing alcohol (test on an inconspicuous spot first). Rinse with water, and wash as directed on the label's garment. Air-dry, and inspect to make sure the stain has been removed before drying as directed again.

Wool

Blot ballpoint pen stain with paper towels ASAP. Blot wool with cold water as long as stain lifts. If stain remains, spray with hairspray, and blot, repeating until stain lifts. Blot with warm water. You also can dip a soft-bristle toothbrush in a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar and gently scrub that on the stain. Dab with cold water. Blot dry.

Note: Be sure to follow the instructions on the garment's label and the manufacturer's instructions on any products mentioned as you go through this process.

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