Don't let an ink stain ruin your favorite outfit. Learn how to get ink out of clothes fast with these quick stain-removal tips.

By BH&G Editors
Updated June 18, 2020
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If you've ever washed a pair of pants with a pen in the pocket, you know that ink stains are both unsightly and tricky to remove. Whether the ink is black, blue, or red, ridding the mark from clothes, furniture, linens, and more is a common housekeeping annoyance. Unfortunately, there is no catch-all trick that works for all fabrics. To beat the stain, you need to know what type of solution will work with the fabric and what application technique will remove ink stains from the surface. Before you make a mistake that only draws more attention to the stain, follow our advice on how to get ink out of clothing and other fabric items. The best stain removal technique depends on the material, so check out the fabrics listed below to find the tricks you need to remove every type of ink stain.

Anthony Masterson

How to Get Ink Out of Canvas or Linen Clothing

To remove ink stains from washable linen or canvas, 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 the fabric taut so the ink spot won't spread. Drip rubbing alcohol through the stain. The alcohol will pull the ink along as it drops into the jar. Rinse well and line-dry, then check that the stain has been removed before laundering per fabric-care instructions.

How to Remove Ink Stains from Wool Clothing

For wool items, blot the ballpoint pen stain with paper towels ASAP. Try blotting the wool with cold water first to see if the stain lifts. If stain remains, spray the ink stain 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 and 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 the ink stain removal process.

Cathy Kramer

How to Get Ink Out of Polyester or Nylon Clothing

Before you try to remove ink stains from polyester or nylon, 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, then line-dry. Wash the garment, and if necessary, use a color-safe bleach (as long as the label says it's OK). Air-dry, and make sure the ink is gone before you dry as directed.

How to Remove Ink Stains from 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 an absorbent cloth moistened with alcohol. Change cloth as stain lifts. After the stain is removed, dab with water, then a dry cloth.

Jay Wilde

How to Get Ink Out of Spandex/Lycra

To remove ballpoint pen ink 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, using the jar to catch the ink residue. Rinse and line-dry the garment, then wash, using a color-safe bleach, if necessary and the label says it's OK. Air-dry, and make sure the ink stain is gone before you dry as directed again.

Megan Chaffin

How to Remove Ink Stains from Leather

To remove ink stains from leather clothing, use a cleaning product specifically designed for leather. Apply the leather cleaner with a clean cloth ASAP, preferably within the first six hours after staining. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the leather cleaner.

Ink Stain Removal for Chenille Clothing

To treat an ink stain on washable chenille, first soak the item for 30 minutes in an ink stain remover 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.

Brie Williams

How to Remove Ink from Silk

For ink stains on silk clothing, blot the stain with paper towels as soon as possible. You can simply blot with cold water as long as the stain lifts. If stain remains, spray with hairspray and continue blotting until the stain lifts. Finish by blotting 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.

How to Get Ink Out of Corduroy Clothing

To remove a pen ink 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.

Ryan Garvin

Ink Stain Removal for Suede Fabric

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

How to Get Ink Out of Velvet

Be sure to follow the instructions on the garment's label before trying to remove an ink stain from velvet. 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.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
August 16, 2018
Thanks very much for this valuable information.