How to Use Hair Spray to Remove Ink Stains From White Shirts

Does Your Husband Tuck His Pen in His Shirt Pocket?

It's easy to stain a white shirt with an ink pen!
It's easy to stain a white shirt with an ink pen! | Source

Try This Before Throwing Out an Ink Stained Shirt

My husband often wears white shirts to work, and he especially likes the kind with pockets. Frequently over the years, he has absent-mindedly tucked his pens into his shirt pocket without making sure he has clicked the point back inside the pen. In other cases, he has had pens that leaked.

Anyone who does laundry for a guy like my husband has probably known that sinking feeling that comes when you realize that the ink mark has probably become a permanent part of the fabric. At times I've been tempted to simply buy my husband nothing but blue, patterned shirts, so the ink marks will not show! However, I have found a solution that frequently (but not always) has worked for me, and has saved a number of my husband's white shirts.

Since these shirts are ruined, unless you can get the stain out, this solution is certainly worth a try!

The Stain Removal Supplies You Will Need

There are just a few things that you will need in order to try this stain removal system for ink. In fact, you probably have them all on hand, already:

The stained shirt

Laundry Detergent

Bleach

Stain Remover

Hair Spray

Paper Towels

Soak Ink Stain in Cheap Hair Spray

The first step you should take is to place paper towels under the spot and work at a counter that will not be damaged by ink. (Avoid any porous stone or similar surfaces). If you are not sure if your counter is safe, place a plastic garbage bag under the shirt while you are working on it.

Once you have the surface prepared, spray the hair spray onto the spot, and begin to blot the ink spot with another paper towel, using one paper towel under the spot, and one on top. Continue doing this over and over until you have removed as much of the ink as you can.

Be prepared for the spot to actually spread! Therefore, do not try this spot removal system on a tiny dot of ink that you can live with. Only try this if your only alternative is to throw the shirt out, anyway.


Apply Spot Remover and Launder the Shirt

Once you have removed as much ink as possible with the hair spray, liberally apply a spot remover.

Once the spot remover has soaked in, throw the shirt in the wash machine with some and wash it in COLD or WARM water. You do not want to use hot water because it could set the stain.

After you wash the shirt, there may still be a visible ink spot. Allow the shirt to air dry, because you do not want to apply heat until you have washed it at least one more time.

Launder Again with Hot Water

Repeat the process, using the hair spray and the the spot remover. This time, wash the shirt in HOT water and add a little bleach, according to the instructions on the bleach and your washing machine.

In most cases, the spot is now completely removed and you can put your shirt in the clothes dryer and handle it as you normally would.

When Two Washings are Not Enough

On a few, rare occasions, there has still been a little ink left, even after two home washings. In these cases, I let the shirt air dry again, then treated the ink stain with hair spray and a spot remover one more time, and sent it to a commercial shirt laundry to be "finished." Fortunately, every time I have done this the shirt has come back looking fantastic.

I only send ink stained shirts to the commercial shirt laundry after I have tried the other two steps, first.

Other Uses for Hair Spray on Ink

Hair spray seems to have the ability to dissolve most types of pen ink. The cheaper the hair spray, the better it works. Consequently, I now keep a can of the cheapest hair spray I can buy in my laundry room.

I have used hair spray to removed ink stains in other situations, too. Once, one of my daughters drew with a pen on a new leather sofa. After trying 409 and other cleaning solutions, I tried the hair spray in a tiny area. The ink began to run, and was easily wiped away. You do need to try the hair spray on the back of the sofa or in an inconpicuous spot, before trying this, however. You do not want to ruin the color or make the spot larger.

I have also used hair spray to dissolve ink marks on a wall. Then, I followed up by washing the wall with plain water.

Do not try this on any surface that you cannot easily wash afterwards. In other words, do not use it on suede leather, fabric purses, silk, etc.

Even when I use it on a shirt, I only try it when I believe that I would have to throw out the shirt otherwise.

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Comments 40 comments

Marntzu 4 years ago

First time I've even heard of using hairspray on ink stains. Great info. voted up and useful


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you! I was really nervous the first time I tried it, so I made sure I tried it on a shirt that would be thrown away if it didn't work. Much to my surprise, it actually turned out great!


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

Thanks for the pointer! My man is a white shirt with the pen in the pocket person as well, and many a shirt has been graduated to work status because if this issue.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Give this a try, and see if it keeps a few more shirts available to wear to work!


northlandws profile image

northlandws 4 years ago from Fargo, North Dakota

I have heard about using hair spray as an ink stain remover but have never tried it.


Julie DeNeen profile image

Julie DeNeen 4 years ago from Clinton CT

Cool tips! Thank you :)


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 4 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I'm glad that you have found this tip for removing ink stains from white shirts useful. It has saved several of my husbands!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Great information! I didn't know hair spray could dissolve ink. Appreciate your sharing this information!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you! Hair spray has saved the day at our house more than once. Hope you find it helpful, too!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This is a great tip. I will never forget how surprised I was when someone told me it worked and I tried it and it worked!!!

I did not know the other hair spray tricks so am adding these to my little book of tricks can grow.

Sending you Angels this evening. :) ps


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you! I am so glad that you have used this hair spray trick for getting ink out of white shirts, and it worked for you, too! It seems like a crazy idea, but it really does work!


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 3 years ago from Iowa

It always amazes me how this works, but I've used hairspray on ink many times, always with success.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I agree that it is amazing how well hairspray removes ink. Sometimes it makes me wonder what happens when we breath in hairspray that is in the air!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Great information. Thanks for sharing.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I actually saw a book advertised the other day about home cleaning tricks, and using hair spray to remove ink was one of the items listed in the ad. I think the word is getting out that this really works!


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 3 years ago from Peru, South America

I'm happy to know about this stain removal trick! I once used alcohol to remove ink stains from a curtain. I suppose it's the same principle since hairspray is high in alcohol. My husband also gets ink stains on his shirts, so I plan to try this next time it happens which is inevitable! : ) Thank you for sharing.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

This is such a practical useful article that I'm going to share it again!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I must admit that when I first discovered this hair spray trick to remove ink spots, I was skeptical. It actually amazed me that it worked, and I am so glad to have the chance to share it with others!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

The first time I ever heard of removing ink stains from shirts with hairspray was when I read this hub and I think it's such a useful article that I'm going to pin it to my "Household Hints & Tips" board on Pinterest.

This procedure can save a lot of money and it's well worth trying on a lot of things, not just men's shirts. I'm wondering if you have ever tried this technique on stains made from other than ink? Since ink is pretty tough, I wonder if this same method might work on blood or tomato sauce?

Going to share with my followers again as well as pin this hub.


Careermommy profile image

Careermommy 3 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Nice hub! I'm going to try this out on a couple of white shirts that are stained. Even if it takes a few washes then it's worth it. Thanks for the great tips!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I have never tried this technique on any other types of stains other than ink. However, if you have something that is badly stained, it is certainly worth a try before you throw the item out.

I have also used the hairspray on ink on a wall, when one of my kids wrote on the wall, and I have used it on a tan leather sofa. In both cases, the ink turned into a liquid and was easily wiped off once it was sprayed with the hair spray. Because it does turn into a liquid, I wouldn't spray it on something valuable, especially if you do not want to simply make the spot bigger. However, it is certainly worth a try if nothing else works!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Came back for a look and I'm pinning this to my cleaning board.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Very interesting and certainly useful tips. Thanks for sharing. Voted up as such.


Jared Miles profile image

Jared Miles 3 years ago from Australia

Thanks for sharing these awesome tips Deborah-Diane, I didn't know hair spray could do that! Voted up and sharing, keep at it!


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Going to share this excellent article again. It may save someone the cost of a shirt or other article of clothing.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 3 years ago from North Texas

Sharing this again in case someone needs help removing ink from a garment so it can continue to be of service.


Au fait profile image

Au fait 2 years ago from North Texas

Sharing this again as it's a very useful and practical article that could save people quite a bit of money over time once they learn about this procedure.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 2 years ago from Singapore

Good suggestions. Will try them


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

This is very useful information. I had given up on getting rid of ink stains. Now I have a new approach. I'll definitely give this a try.


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

I spilled red ink on a white blouse yesterday and nothing has worked for stain removal. I'll go try the hairspray right now! I hope it works. Thanks for sharing.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California Author

I have never tried this on red ink ... only on blue or black. Please let me know how it works for you on red ink. I'm sure other people will want to know, too.


WriterJanis profile image

WriterJanis 2 years ago from California

I've never heard of this trick before. Thanks for the advice.


DeborahDian profile image

DeborahDian 2 years ago from Orange County, California

It has saved me a lot of ruined shirts! I hope it helps a few other people, too!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 2 years ago from Orange County, California Author

This has been one of my most popular articles for a long time. I hope it has saved a lot of shirts!


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 22 months ago from sunny Florida

How lovely you are to share this. I cannot tell you how thrilled I was back in the day (work day) when someone shared this with me. It saved so many of my white cotton blouses.

Pinning g+ tweeting voted up ++++ Angels are on the way once again to you today ps


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 22 months ago from Georgia

I'm glad this was published again. I will try the hairspray on my purse. If it worked on you leather couch, then maybe it will get ink marks out of my handbag. I'll keep the information for other things as well, but I have the most problem with getting ink on my handbags. Take care.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Thank you for sharing your experience and letting us know that this system has also worked for you in saving your white cotton blouses!


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California Author

Try it on a small area of your purse, first. It will initially spread the ink. Then you will have to wash off the excess and keep using the hairspray. I hope it works.


ezzly profile image

ezzly 22 months ago

This is brilliant how many of us have had a shirt ruined by having a pen in the pocket! Sharing on twitter thanks for the tips !


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 22 months ago from Orange County, California Author

This technique has saved a lot of my husband's shirts over the years. While they couldn't all be saved, enough of them were that it was worth the try!

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    Deborah-Diane295 Followers
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