How to Get Ink Stains out of Clothes

It’s inevitable that, if you use pens, ink is going to end up on your clothing somewhere. If you get ink stains on your clothes, it’s not the end of the world. That favorite shirt, top or pair of pants probably can still be salvaged.

1. Ink Stain Removal Instructions

The key to removing ink stains out of clothes is to treat the stain immediately before you wash it. Do not throw a stained item of any sort straight into the laundry. Once it’s been through the wash and the dryer, the stain is set into the fabric and is much more difficult to remove.

When you get ink on your clothing, remove the item and lay it out flat so you can work on the stain. This is important: Before you do anything else, put absorbent paper towels or an old cloth or towel underneath the stained area to act as a blotter while you work. Then you will need something with which to treat the stain.

Once you’ve treated the stain, you need to dab at it with a damp cloth or paper towel, working from the outside edges in toward the middle. Do not rub it! (unless it is a commercial stain remover such as Amodex) This only spreads the stain and helps to work it deeper into the fibers.

Blot away as much of the stain as possible. Then put the garment into the washing machine with regular laundry detergent. Wash with warm water.

After it’s been through the wash, check the stain before you put the item into the dryer. If it’s still there, give it another round of treatment and then wash again.

Don’t dry the garment until the stain has been completely removed.

2. Remove Ink Stains with Household Products

If you are in a hurry, there are several household options that you can use which if you don’t have an off the shelf ink and stain remover might just well save the day. However, Amodex Ink and Stain Remover is definitely our preferred choice for getting rid of new and dried in ink stains. 

2.1 Water

Many rollerballs and fountain pens use water-based ink, so you might first try spraying the affected area with water. This will help to dilute and lift the ink.

2.2 Hairspray

This used to be the No. 1 recommended solution for removing ink from clothing. Spray it directly on the stain and allow it to soak for several minutes. The alcohol in the hairspray will dissolve the ink. Unfortunately, these days hairspray contains very little alcohol.

2.3 Surgical Spirit/Rubbing Alcohol

Same as hairspray, only more concentrated and probably one of the better household products for removing ballpoint pen ink stains, that you may have in your cupboard.

2.4 Liquid Dish Detergent

Spread it gently over the surface of the stain and allow it to work for several minutes. The detergent is a surfactant that will get between the ink and the fiber and make the ink easier to pull up when you blot or wash.

2.4 Coca-Cola

The carbonic acid in Coke can help dissolve the ink so that it is easier to wash out. Of course, regular carbonated water will also work.

3. Commercial Ink & Stain Removers for Tougher/Dried in Stains

Sometimes household products may not be able to remove an ink stain so that’s when you need to get the big guns out. Commercial ink and stain removers have come on along the way, and these days you are probably better off being prepared and having one in the cupboard as your first course of action.

There are two brands that dominate the world of ink stain removal and these are Amodex and Oxiclean. There are of course other well-known brands available but these two always have the highest numbers of positive reviews.

3.1 Amodex Ink & Stain Remover

Amodex Ink and Stain Remover

Amodex Ink & Stain Remover is one of the best ways of removing ink pen stains and is my personal favorite. I use it all the time on my kid’s school shirts. The trick is to rub it in before washing and keep rubbing and adding a bit more until it is really faint. It takes a bit of work but well worth the effort before washing.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

You can see it in action in this video as Amodex demonstrates how to remove an ink stain from a Barbour Jacket.

3.2 Oxiclean

Oxiclean Products

Oxiclean is the number one stain remover in the U.S and for good reason, it is seriously good stuff. There are two ways to use Oxiclean to remove ink stains you can either add it to your wash. Or for tougher marker stains they recommend using Oxiclean Max Force this is applied to the stain and rubbed in prior to washing.

If you live in the UK, then Vanish is very similar to Oxiclean and contains the same active ingredient sodium percarbonate.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

If there is anything else that we have missed off this list we would love to hear from you.

Photo of author

Tony Bridges

As a seasoned journalist and freelance writer, I've spent over three decades telling stories and exploring the world through the written word. With a passion for writing instruments, I found my niche at The Pen Vibe, a blog that shares our collective fascination with pens, pencils, and other tools that have shaped the art of writing.

4 thoughts on “How to Get Ink Stains out of Clothes”

  1. How about removing Pentel EnerGel Liquid Gel Ink. Husbands pen saturated spot on lavender-checked shirt, so we’re not talking white fabric here. And just told me about it–happened four days ago.

    • Thanks. If there’s anything pen- or pencil-related you are curious about, let us know, and we’ll see what we can do to find the answer.


Leave a Comment