a person with a painted shirt on a canvas indicating it's made out of ink

How to Get Ink out of Clothes

Oops! Did your favorite pen burst, leaving a stubborn ink spot on your brand-new shirt? We’ve all been there. Sometimes, it feels like our clothes have a special attraction to ink, right? Maybe it’s from an accidental scribble, a leaky pen in your pocket, or an enthusiastic art session that went a tad overboard. Whatever the case, don’t stress! We’ve got your back.

This article, titled “How to Get Ink out of Clothes,” is your ultimate guide to turning those annoying ink blots into a distant memory. And trust us, it’s way simpler than you might think! With just a few household items and our handy steps, you’ll master the art of removing those pesky stains in no time. So, let’s dive in and discover the magic behind keeping your clothes spotless. After all, nobody wants to wear their mistakes on their sleeve (or any other part of their outfit) for too long!

Understanding the Type of Ink

When it comes to the mission of figuring out how to get ink out of clothes, the first detective work you need is identifying the type of ink. Just like there are different types of paint or shoes, inks aren’t all made the same way. Let’s break down these inky culprits.

Ballpoint Ink

Ballpoint pens are everyday heroes for scribbling down notes or doodling. Their ink is oil-based, which makes them smooth to write but a bit tricky when they decide to dance on our shirts.

Fountain Ink

Fountain pens are often seen as the classy relatives in the pen family. Their water-based ink flows gracefully on paper but can be a nightmare when spilled on clothes. Luckily, because it’s water-based, it’s often easier to wash out.

Gel Ink

The vibrant colors and the silky flow make gel pens a favorite for many. This water-based ink contains pigments and water, making it thicker and sometimes more stubborn than its fountain counterpart.

Permanent Ink

Ah, the dreaded permanent marker! As the name suggests, it’s designed to be… well, permanent. These markers contain pigments and solvents, making them the most challenging to remove.

Why Does the Ink Type Matter?

Think of ink types like different flavors of ice cream. Each one requires a special touch. By understanding the type of ink, you can select the best cleaning strategy. After all, you wouldn’t treat chocolate syrup stains the same way as you’d treat mustard, right? Similarly, each ink type has its own unique properties, and hence, its own cleaning solution.

Knowing how to get ink out of clothes starts with identifying the ink. This knowledge is your secret weapon, setting you on the right path to restoring your clothes to their former glory!

General Precautions Before Starting

Alright, before we jump into the action of resolving the “how to get ink out of clothes” dilemma, we’ve got some golden rules to share. Think of these as the safety instructions before the rollercoaster ride begins. They’ll ensure a smoother, more effective stain-battling experience.

Check the Clothing Label

Before you even think of tackling that ink stain, take a quick peek at your clothing label. It’s like a mini manual for your outfit. Those symbols and little words are packed with information about what your garment likes and doesn’t like. Some fabrics are sensitive souls and need a gentle touch, while others are tough cookies and can handle a bit more action. By following the care instructions, you’ll avoid accidentally turning your favorite white blouse into a mini crop top.

Test Before You Treat

Now, you might be super eager to get that stain out, but hold on for a sec! Before applying any treatment, test it on a tiny, hidden part of the garment — maybe the inside seam or a corner that’s usually tucked in. This sneak peek ensures the solution won’t cause more drama, like discoloration or damage. Better safe than sorry, right?

No Rubbing Allowed!

It’s a natural instinct to rub away a problem. But when it comes to ink stains, rubbing is a big no-no. Doing so might make the ink feel more at home, spreading it further or pushing it deeper into the fabric. Instead, be gentle and dab or blot the area.

Remember, the goal of understanding how to get ink out of clothes is not just to remove the stain but to keep your clothing in tip-top shape in the process. So, always prioritize your garment’s safety and health!

Methods for Removing Ink Stains

Okay, now that we’ve gone through the prep steps, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty of our main mission: understanding how to get ink out of clothes. But, remember, every ink type is its own character, and each one needs a different approach. So, let’s break it down!

Ballpoint Ink

The ink from that everyday pen you casually throw in your bag? Yep, that’s ballpoint ink.

  1. Dab with Rubbing Alcohol: Grab a clean cloth or cotton ball and moisten it with some rubbing alcohol. Dab gently on the stain. The alcohol acts like an ink whisperer, breaking down its components.
  2. Rinse with Cold Water: Once you’ve done some dabbing, rinse the stained area with cold water. This helps wash away the ink particles that the alcohol has broken down.
  3. Launder as Usual: Toss it into the wash, and let your washing machine do its magic.

Fountain Ink

The elegant and classic fountain pen can sometimes leave behind a watery mess.

  1. Blot with a Clean Cloth: Quickly use a clean cloth to blot and soak up as much of the ink as you can. Time is of the essence!
  2. Rinse and Apply Liquid Detergent: Hold the stained area under cold water. Then, make a mix of liquid detergent and water, and apply it to the stain.
  3. Rinse and Launder: Give it another rinse and then throw it in your regular wash.

Gel Ink

Bright and bold gel ink can be a vibrant headache on fabric.

  1. Pre-Treat with Hand Sanitizer: The alcohol content in hand sanitizers can break down gel ink. Apply a bit on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
  2. Rinse and Apply Detergent: After pre-treatment, rinse the area. Then, apply a mixture of liquid detergent and water directly to the stain.
  3. Wash in Warm Water: Put the garment in a wash with warm water. Warm water helps get rid of gel ink residues.

Permanent Ink

The toughest of them all, but not unbeatable!

  1. Use Acetone or Nail Polish Remover: Before going all in, remember to check your fabric! Delicate fabrics and acetone might not be best friends. Dab a bit of the remover on the stain, but use sparingly.
  2. Apply Dishwashing Detergent: After using acetone, mix some dishwashing detergent with warm water and apply it to the stain.
  3. Rinse and Launder: After your treatment, rinse out the area and proceed with a regular wash.

Armed with these methods, that ink stain won’t know what hit it! With a bit of patience and the right approach, your garments will look as good as new. So, the next time someone wonders how to get ink out of clothes, you’ll have all the answers!

Alternative Household Solutions

Now, sometimes you’re in a pickle and you don’t have the usual stain fighters at hand. Or maybe, you’re in the mood to try something a little more homespun. Don’t fret! There’s a trove of household items that can come to your rescue. Let’s dive into these DIY heroes that can help when wondering how to get ink out of clothes.

Milk and Vinegar Mixture

This dynamic duo is more than just for cooking. They can team up to fight those nasty ink spots.

  1. Create the Mixture: Mix equal parts of milk and vinegar in a bowl. Give it a good stir until well combined.
  2. Apply and Soak: Place the stained area in the mixture, ensuring the ink spot is well-covered. Let it soak for a few hours. The acidic nature of the vinegar combined with the milk can break down the ink.
  3. Rinse and Wash: After soaking, rinse the garment with cold water and wash as usual.

Cornstarch and Milk Paste for Dried Ink

For those times when you find an old ink stain that’s dried and set in.

  1. Whip Up the Paste: In a bowl, mix cornstarch with milk until it forms a smooth paste.
  2. Apply to the Stain: Lay the garment flat and spread the paste over the dried ink stain. Allow it to dry completely.
  3. Brush Off and Launder: Once dried, brush off the paste gently. The ink should come off with the paste. Launder the garment as you normally would.

Hairspray for Lighter Fabrics

Your hair’s best friend can also be a lifesaver for your clothes!

  1. Spray Away: Lay your stained garment flat and spray a decent amount of hairspray directly onto the ink spot. Let it sit for a few minutes. The chemicals in the hairspray can help dissolve the ink.
  2. Blot with a Clean Cloth: Using a clean cloth, blot the stained area. Be careful not to rub, as you don’t want to spread the ink.
  3. Wash As Usual: Once done, throw the garment in the wash.

These household solutions are not only handy but also kind to your pocket. The next time you’re faced with the challenge of figuring out how to get ink out of clothes, take a look around your home. The answer might be sitting right there on your kitchen shelf!

Post-Treatment Care

The battle might seem over once the ink stain fades, but there’s a final phase to ensuring your clothing’s longevity and cleanliness. Think of it as the cool-down after a good workout. Here’s what you should keep in mind post-treatment when solving the puzzle of how to get ink out of clothes.

Always Launder After Treatment

Once you’ve treated the stain using any method, it’s crucial to launder the garment. Here’s why:

  1. Remove Residue: The treatment methods, whether using household items or commercial products, can leave residues behind. Washing ensures any lingering product or loosened ink gets completely rinsed out.
  2. Restore Fabric Freshness: Laundering helps to restore the freshness of your fabric, ensuring it smells and feels as good as new.

Air Dry Before Using a Machine Dryer

Before you’re tempted to toss that garment into the dryer, consider this:

  1. Check for Lingering Stains: Air drying allows you to inspect the garment in natural light. Sometimes, faint remnants of a stain might still be lurking. By air drying, you get a chance to catch and treat any sneaky spots before they become permanent.
  2. Avoid Heat Setting the Stain: Machine dryers use heat, which can set any residual stain, making it a permanent fixture on your garment. It’s always best to be sure the stain is entirely gone before exposing the item to heat.
  3. Prolonged Garment Life: As a bonus, air drying can be gentler on your clothes, especially delicate fabrics, ensuring they stay in great shape for longer.

In conclusion, while treating the stain is vital, the aftercare is just as crucial. It ensures that all your hard work pays off, leaving you with a garment that’s as pristine as the day you bought it. So, the next time you’re working out how to get ink out of clothes, don’t forget these post-treatment steps to seal the deal!

Preventing Future Ink Stains

While we’ve now mastered how to get ink out of clothes, wouldn’t it be even better if those pesky stains didn’t appear in the first place? Prevention is always better than cure. Let’s dive into some nifty tips to sidestep future ink mishaps and ensure your clothes remain spotless!

Mind Your Pens

Pens, as much as we love them for their utility, can often be the main culprits behind those unsightly stains. Here’s how you can reduce the risk:

  1. Avoid Overfilling Fountain Pens: If you’re a fan of classic fountain pens that need refilling, ensure you don’t overfill them. An overfilled pen can easily leak and create unexpected splatters.
  2. Always Use Caps: A pen without its cap is a disaster waiting to happen. Ensure your pens are always capped when not in use. This not only prevents accidental marks but also extends the life of your pen.
  3. Beware of Pockets: We’re all guilty of quickly stashing a pen in our shirt or trouser pocket. But even a small leak or a forgotten uncapped pen can spell disaster for your clothes. Make it a habit to store pens in a pencil case or designated section of your bag.

Have an Emergency Stain Removal Kit

Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. Being prepared can make all the difference.

  1. Why It’s Essential: An emergency stain removal kit can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re prone to spills or if you’re always on the go. Immediate action can often prevent a stain from setting, making it easier to treat later.
  2. What to Include: Pack a small pouch with items like a clean cloth, mini bottle of liquid detergent, a few cotton balls, a small container of salt (great for wine stains), and a packet of wipes. Depending on what you’re most prone to spilling, you can customize this kit.
  3. Keep It Handy: Store this kit in your car, office drawer, or daily bag. Having it within reach ensures you can act quickly when disaster strikes.

In the end, while it’s great to know how to get ink out of clothes, it’s even better to adopt habits that prevent those stains in the first place. With a bit of caution and preparedness, your favorite outfits can stay in pristine condition for a long time to come!

In Conclusion

Navigating the maze of ink stains on our beloved garments can be daunting, but as we’ve explored, it’s far from impossible. Whether you’re reaching for household remedies, following post-treatment care steps, or employing preventive measures, each tactic serves as a tool in our arsenal against stubborn spots. But beyond the practical steps lies a more profound lesson: life, much like our clothes, will have its share of blemishes. The key isn’t to avoid them but to know how to handle them with grace, knowledge, and a touch of ingenuity. So, the next time an ink spill threatens to ruin your day, remember it’s not just about how to get ink out of clothes, but about embracing challenges, learning from them, and coming out spotless on the other side.


A: The faster, the better! Fresh ink stains are easier to remove compared to those that have dried and set into the fabric. It’s recommended to treat the stain as soon as you notice it.

A: While bleach can be effective on some ink stains, it’s essential to use it cautiously. It can harm colored fabrics and certain materials. Always check the garment’s care label and do a patch test in an inconspicuous area before using bleach.

A: Some methods can be harsh on delicate fabrics. Always check the fabric care label, and when in doubt, test any treatment on an unseen area of the garment first.

A: While heat can set some stains, making them harder to remove, it’s not necessarily too late. You might need to treat and launder the garment multiple times to see results.

A: Both commercial stain removers and household remedies have their merits. Commercial removers are formulated for stain removal, but household remedies can be more accessible and eco-friendly. It often depends on the stain’s nature and personal preference.

A: While many ink stains can be effectively treated, some might be stubborn, especially if they’ve set for a long time or if they’re from permanent ink. However, with patience and the right techniques, most stains can be significantly reduced, if not entirely removed.

A: Air drying allows you to inspect the treated area in natural light and ensure the stain is entirely gone. Machine drying with heat can set any remnants of the stain, making it permanent.