How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

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How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Finding an ink stain on your favorite item of clothing could easily send you into panic mode – ink is one of the most stubborn liquids to get out of fabrics and can quickly spread across the fibers to create a sizeable, unsightly stain that is impossible to hide. Leaving you wondering how to get ink stains out of clothes?

Attempting to rub the stain away or immediately tossing it into the washing machine will only exacerbate the problem and could actually make the stain much worse than it was to start out with. Instead, you will need to employ a couple of different methods which will differ depending on the type of ink you are dealing with and the fabric that the clothing is made from.

Here, we’re going to talk you through our favorite ways of removing ink stains from your clothing for the best results and with maximum efficiency.

How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes: Things to Consider

Consult the Item’s Care Label

The first thing you should do before tackling any stain – particularly one as stubborn as an ink stain – is to check the item’s care label. The care label will tell you how best to wash the item. Failing to follow these guidelines set out by the manufacturer is likely to result in further damage being done to the item, so it’s very important that you pay close attention to these.

The most important thing to do is check for colorfastness. If the item is colorfast, the dyes within the fabric won’t run or bleed, however, if it is not colorfast, you are likely to see some bleeding and potential color loss when the item becomes wet.

The care label should tell you whether or not the item is colorfast, but if you’re unsure, you can always carry out your own test. Simply take an inconspicuous area of the garment (below the collar is a good place) and dab it with some water using either a wet cloth or cue tip. If you see bleeding of the colors, the item is not colorfast. If there is no bleeding, the item is probably colorfast.

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Figuring out whether the clothing is colorfast is so important because it tells you whether you can safely treat and wash the item at home. If the item is not colorfast, you’re probably going to need to take it to a dry cleaner to have it cleaned. You’ll also need to do this if the care label says ‘dry-clean only’.

If your item is safe to wash at home, your care label should also tell you whether it is suitable for machine washing, hand washing, or both.

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Different Fabrics Call For Different Techniques

Next up, you’ll need to establish what type of fabric the garment is made from, as this will have a big influence on the cleaning technique you are going to use.

Again, your care label should tell you all about the item’s fabric composition and the best ways of cleaning it, but there are a few things worth noting if you’re working with specific fabrics.

Delicate fabrics such as Silk, Wool, and Rayon call for super gentle ingredients. Rubbing Alcohol and Hydrogen Peroxide may be natural and eco-friendly cleaning agents, but they’re going to be way too harsh on these types of fabrics. Instead, you will want to use a super gentle natural cleaning agent such as white vinegar to remove the stain.

More robust fabrics, however, such as corduroy and denim, will respond well to ingredients such as rubbing alcohol and hydrogen peroxide (be aware, though, that each of these may cause bleaching and color loss, so be sure to carry out a patch test), the same can be said for most polyester and nylon garments.

For Leather clothing, always use a specified, all-natural leather cleaning agent.

Finally, for cotton garments, a gentle, all-natural detergent or liquid soap should do the trick.

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Water-Based Ink vs. Oil-Based Ink

Much like paint, ink can be either water or oil-based. Water-based inks tend to be found in basic roller-ball pens and felt-tips or washable markers, whereas oil-based inks may be found in permanent markers or ball-point and fountain pens.

Oil-based ink is much more difficult to remove and requires some specific products and techniques to effectively remove the stain. Whereas water-based ink is less stubborn and can be removed using various different methods.

To effectively remove oil-based stains, you’re probably going to need to use some alcohol or glycerin-based products. However, for delicate fabrics such as silk and wool, this may not be suitable. In this case, you should always consult a professional for advice or have your garment dry cleaned to avoid damage and to effectively remove the stain.

It is important to determine what type of ink you are working with to ensure that you are using a removal technique that will work well when following the steps in our How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes guide so that you won’t cause any further damage to the garment.

Related: How to Remove Mold from Clothes Using Baking Soda (and Other Methods)

Steps on How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Below, you will find our favorite method for removing ink stains from clothing. Each step can be customized depending on the type of fabric you are working with as well as the type of ink. Simply change out the ingredients and techniques used to suit your specific needs.

Step 1 – Remove as Much Excess Ink as Possible

The first thing to do when removing an ink stain is to remove as much excess as possible. Do this using a gentle, microfiber cloth, towel, or sponge. Make sure the sponge or cloth is clean and dry to avoid spreading the stain. It’s also important that you don’t rub the stain at all, simply dab and blot away any excess liquid.

Do this until the sponge or cloth comes away clean. While doing this, you will also need to be careful not to use the same area of the cloth or sponge more than once, as you don’t want to pick up excess ink and then immediately reapply it to the garment as you continue to blot the stain.

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Step 2 – Pre-Treat the Stain

Next, you’ll want to pre-treat the stain. To do this, take your choice of cleaning agent depending on the type of fabric and ink you are working with (rubbing alcohol for oil-based inks and hard-wearing fabrics; white vinegar for water-based ink and delicate fabrics).

Dilute your rubbing alcohol or white vinegar with equal parts water and use a cloth, sponge, or spray bottle to apply a generous amount over the stain. Leave this to soak for three to five minutes and then gently blot away as much ink as possible.

If the stain is particularly stubborn and you are not working with a delicate fabric, you can also take a toothbrush and work the treatment into the stain. Again, take care not to spread the stain and do this gently to avoid damaging the fabric fibers.

Repeat this if necessary, until the ink stain looks noticeably diminished.

Related: How to Get Old Grease Stains Out of Clothes

Step 3 – Soak the Item

Next up, soak the item in your choice of liquid soap or detergent. Be sure to choose a detergent that is bleach-free, completely natural, and gentle on fabrics.

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Dilute the detergent or soap in some lukewarm water (cool if working with silk or wool) and submerge the garment in the liquid. Allow it to soak in here for up to thirty minutes.

Step 4 – Wash the Item

Now it’s time to wash the item either by hand or in the washing machine, depending on the guidelines laid out on the care label.

Again, wash using a super gentle, natural detergent and follow the instructions on the care label regarding spin time and water temperature.

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Step 5 – Rinse and Dry

If you have washed the item by hand, go ahead and rinse it off with some cool water, otherwise pull it from the washing machine, and then dry it on the drying line with the guidelines on your care label. You should notice that the ink stain has been removed and your item of clothing looks as good as new.

Final Tips on How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Here are some final tips to be aware of when it comes to removing ink stains.

Tackle the Stain as Soon as Possible!

As with any fabric stain, the key is really to tackle it as soon as possible. Allowing the ink to dry into the fabric will make it considerably more difficult to remove. If this isn’t possible, however, and the ink has been allowed to dry, start out by spraying some water over the stain and then continuing with the blotting process to remove as much excess ink as possible.

Always Carry Out a Patch Test!

It is super important that you carry out a patch test when using any new cleaning products on your fabrics, even when those products are completely natural and eco-friendly. This is particularly important when working with delicate fabrics and will prevent any further damage to the garment.

Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Hard-Wearing, White Fabrics Only

Hydrogen Peroxide is a great, natural stain remover and can effectively lift even the most stubborn stains out of clothing and soft furnishings. With that being said, it can also act as a natural bleaching agent and you are likely to see some color loss if this is used on colored or dark fabrics – so save this one for white or light-colored garments.

Final Thoughts on How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

Getting an ink stain on an item of clothing might seem like a complete disaster and while it can be super inconvenient, there is no need to panic now that you know how to get in stains out of clothes. Remember to act as quickly as possible to remove the ink stain as soon as it appears and to follow the advice given in this article on How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes as well as that provided on your garment’s care label.