How to Get Ink Out of Clothes

Keep your favorite shirt from going in the garbage by learning how to get ink out of clothes.

Whether your pen busted or your toddler drew a picture on your favorite shirt, you can remove the stain. There are many suitable methods for removing ink from fabric, depending on the type of stain.

How to Get Ink Out of Clothes

Here’s what to try.

How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes, Based on the Type of Ink

While you might think you can treat any ink stain with the same method, that’s not true. Different types of ink require different stain removers. 

There are three main types of ink. Determining which you’re dealing with will help you pick the appropriate solution.

  • Gel and fountain pens – These contain water-based ink and are the easiest stains to remove.
  • Ballpoint pens – Ink from a ballpoint pen contains oil, making it thicker and greasy.
  • Permanent marker – The ink from permanent markers is harder to break down than ink from a pen.

How to Remove Clothing Stains from a Gel or Fountain Pen

Remove ink from gel and fountain pens using cold water. If the stain is fresh, dab it with a paper towel to remove excess ink. Then soak a cloth in cold water and blot the stain.

Add a couple of drops of laundry detergent to the ink spot and allow it to sit for five minutes. Then wash the garment in your washing machine using hot water and regular detergent.

Inspect the item before throwing it in the dryer. If it’s still stained, retreat with laundry detergent or a stain remover and wash again.

How to Remove Clothing Stains from a Ballpoint Pen or Permanent Marker

To remove ink stains from a ballpoint pen or permanent marker, use rubbing alcohol. 

Tip: If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, swap it for hand sanitizer or hair spray with high alcohol content.

Alcohol is a solvent capable of breaking down stubborn ink stains. 

Step 1: Blot Excess Ink

Use a paper towel to soak up excess ink. Avoid rubbing or scrubbing – these motions force the ink deeper into the fabric.

Step 2: Dab with Rubbing Alcohol

Soak a cotton ball or paper towel with rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. After the ink spot is soaked, use a dry cloth to dab up the color.

Repeat the process until you’ve removed the ink.

Step 3: Wash as Normal

With the stain removed from the clothing, wash on your regular cycle.

What to Do About Permanent Marker Stains that Won’t Come Out of Clothing

Permanent marker is the hardest type of ink to remove. If fresh, rubbing alcohol is often enough to break it down. But if dry, you may need another method.

Try using acetone-based nail polish remover to remove the stain. But be warned, nail polish remover can ruin some fabrics. Perform a small test spot to see how your clothing reacts.

To use nail polish remover to get permanent marker ink out of clothes, soak a cotton ball and dab the stain. Afterward, rinse the item in cold water and launder it as usual.

Helpful Tips for Getting Ink Out of Clothes

  • The faster you treat the stain, the higher success you’ll have.
  • Remove washable marker ink from clothes using cold water and laundry detergent.
  • If you find dried ink from a gel or fountain pen, soak it in a solution of half water and half white-distilled vinegar for an hour. Then, toss it into the washing machine.