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How to Get Ink Out of Clothes

Updated on June 22, 2016

How to Remove Ink Stains

So you were wearing your favorite shirt, only to look down and notice that you have an ink stain right on the front!

At first glance you think to yourself "no big deal", right? When you get home you immediately treat the area with your favorite stain remover, and throw it in the wash.

Once the washer is done you come back in hopes of seeing that the stain has magically disappeared. No such luck, huh?

No surprise here, Ink from a pen can be extremely difficult to remove from clothing.

I work, and manage a laundromat that offers a wash dry fold service. I have been employed here for well over 15 years. You would be surprised at how many times I have found ink pens in one of my customers laundry, while checking the pockets.

There has been a few that have slipped past me as well, and let me just tell you... that one little ink pen has the potential to ruin my whole day!

So I'm going to do you a favor and give you a few hints on how to remove ink stains from clothes!

Now before we start the stain removal process, you will need to be patient and know that there is no guarantee that the ink is going to come out... but 9 times out of 10 it works. You may have to work at it a bit, and wash it a few times before the ink lifts out.

How to Remove Ink From Clothes: Step 1

I know this may sound a bit strange, but it really helps. Before laundering, soak the stained area in milk. There is an enzyme in milk that helps break the ink stain down.

The longer it soaks the better your chances are of removing the ink easier, an hour should be sufficient enough.

Machine wash in cold, with detergent. If the stain remains move on to step 2.

Do not dry the clothes in question or the stain will set and be impossible to remove. This applies to just about any clothing stain as well.

How to Remove Ink From Clothes: Step 2

Don't panic just yet, sometimes milk alone isn't enough to completely remove the stain. That's okay we still have another option to try.

Buy a cheap can of aerosol hairspray, it has to be the aerosol kind or it won't work. Place an old towel down directly beneath the stain, and saturate the ink with hairspray. Wait a few minutes, and blot (do not rub) the stain with a damp old cloth.

You will see the ink on both your towel and your cloth as it works. Repeat until stain is gone. Launder as usual. If the stain didn't disappear after washing move on to step 3.

How to Remove Ink From Clothes: Step 3

If step 1 and 2 both fail, you may want to look into getting some Sodium Perborate. This is a special chemical that most of the dry cleaners use to remove ink, and whiten and brighten clothes. It's considered a very powerful stain remover for all types of stains. I think it runs about $20 or so, but it works miracles.

If you are not interested in purchasing it, you can always just take your garment in to your favorite dry cleaner and let them do it for you.

It may cost you a few bucks but it's worth it if they can guarantee removal of the stain. Make sure to ask them what their thoughts are about the stain actually coming out, before dropping it off.

There is also another product that works well, and it is called ink out. I have a friend that owns a tattoo shop and they use this to clean a lot of their equipment with. I think it runs about $15.00 per bottle but it will last you a long time, and it's great to keep on hand for future ink mishaps.

Stain Removal Hints, and Tips

Time is of the essence when it comes to stain removal. The sooner you can work on removing the stain the better your chances are for actually getting it out.

Never put the stained garment into the dryer, the heat will cause the stain to set in.

Use a sponge for scrubbing stains it is way less abrasive on clothes.

Good Luck!


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