How to Get Rid of Pen Ink Stains

By Subodh / March 12, 2012

Hardly anything’s worse than having an ink pen break and bleed while you’re carrying it in your pocket. It’s amazingly messy, and can happen really easily. Shirts and pants alike can be completely ruined by ink seepage, not to mention the embarrassment of being seen that way before you get a chance to change. Interestingly enough, alcohol based products are what you need to break down that ink and get it to let your shirt go.

  1. Find an alcohol-based hair spray. Spray until the stain is saturated and, giving your garment a backing of paper towels, carefully dab up the stain with more paper towels. You should see the ink beginning to transfer to the paper towels. Keep working at it and when the fabric gets too dry, soak it again.
  2. If hairspray doesn’t get all the ink off, try an alcohol-based nail polish remover instead. Saturate and dab just the same as with the hairspray. If that fails, another original solution is to soak the garment in whole fat milk. Let it sit all night and throw it in the washing machine in the morning, laundering it the way you usually do. Don’t put in a dryer until you get the stain off, as the heat will set the stain past repair. As a last resort, take it to the dry cleaners.
  3. Sometimes ink stains happen on tables or kitchen counters were a pen has sat and leaked. Regular kitchen or furniture cleaners may not have the desired effect on ink, so you will need a commercial ink remover. You can find these at hardware stores. Be sure to read the directions and warnings before you attempt anything.
  4. Ammonia can remove ink, if you combine just a little bit of it with soap and water. Scrub if you need to, but be careful not to damage the surface in question. For instance, you could risk damaging the finish on a wooden table if you’re not careful. Always rinse it off with clean water before you finish.
  5. Your final recourse is paint thinner or denatured alcohol. This is strong stuff, so be very judicious in its use, and try it in an inconspicuous area to make sure you won’t be ruining the very thing you’re trying to protect. A small ink stain might be a much lesser evil than a large blotch caused by paint thinner.

Getting back to clothes, you should always check the care label, especially if it’s a delicate fabric or something expensive and difficult to care for like leather. You may prefer to just take it straight to the dry cleaners rather than risk doing it any further damage. If not, at least keep the dry cleaner in mind should your own efforts fail. As with all stains, the quicker you are to respond and treat the stain, the more likely it is to come off the way you hope. Don’t dry or iron it until the stain is gone and you’re satisfied.