How To Remove Pen Ink From Clothes

“The ink from my ballpoint pen didn’t dry and got all over my sleeve.” “Fountain pen ink got on my shirt.” Have you ever had this happen to you?
It’s very annoying, especially when it gets on a white shirt. Anyway, you can scrub it with soap or detergent… but wait a minute! There are appropriate ways to remove different types of ink, water-based, oil-based, fountain pen ink, etc. This article will show you how to remove pen ink from clothes depending on the type of ink.

How To Remove Pen Ink

Whether or not ink stains on clothes are removable depends on the type of ink. For example, oil-based inks can be easily removed without leaving a stain. On the other hand, water-based inks, gel inks, and fountain pen inks are much more difficult to handle.

Each ink has a different way of removing stains, so check the type of ink first.

If you don’t know which type of ink your pen uses, check the product page on the pen brand’s website.

ink stain on a white wall

For oil-based ink

Things to prepare

  • Hand saintizer
  • Solid soap
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush

Oil-based pen ink can be sprayed with ethanol such as hand sanitizer, and the ink will rise to the surface. However, since the ink can quickly transfer to other areas, please proceed carefully.

Steps

  1. Turn the clothes inside out and place a towel over the stained area
    Put a towel inside the clothes to prevent the ink from soaking into the back.

  2. Pour hand sanitizer on the stain
    Apply it so that it entirely covers the stain.

  3. Remove ink by tapping with a toothbrush
    Tap it without rubbing, as if you were transferring the ink to the towel.

  4. Make sure the ink has been removed
    If not, rub with a solid soap

  5. Rinse and wash
    After rinsing under running water, wash as usual and you are done.

Most oil-based inks can be removed with ethanol. But depending on the material and the extent of the stain, the ink may not come off. If the stain is too thick or too large, the ink may spread, so be careful.

Can we use nail polish remover or cleansing oil?

You can also use nail polish remover or cleansing oil instead of hand sanitizer, as long as you can remove the oily stains from the oil-based ink.

For water-based or gel ink

Unlike oil-based ink, water-based ink blots easily with water. So, some people mistakenly believe that it is easier to clean than oil-based ink. However, water-based ink is actually more troublesome than oil-based ink when it comes to stain removal.

Things to prepare

  • Dishwashing liquid (Neutral detergent)
  • Solid soap
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush

The procedure for removing stains is similar to that for oil-based ink. Simply replace the hand sanitizer with dishwashing liquid.

Steps

  1. Turn the clothes inside out and place a towel over the stained area
    Put a towel inside the clothes to prevent the ink from soaking into the back.

  2. Pour dishwashing liquid on the stain
    Apply it so that it entirely covers the stain.

  3. Remove ink by tapping with a toothbrush
    Tap it without rubbing, as if you were transferring the ink to the towel.

  4. Make sure the ink has been removed
    If not, rub with a solid soap

  5. Rinse and wash
    After rinsing under running water, wash as usual and you are done.

Water-based and gel ballpoint inks are difficult to clean up completely once they completely dry out. But you can make them as invisible as possible.

For stains that cannot be removed by any means, it may be better to give up and send them for cleaning services.

For fountain pen ink

pen tip of fountain pen

Things to prepare

  • A large bowl
  • Dishwashing liquid (Neutral detergent)
  • Baking soda

Fountain pen ink is one of the most difficult inks to remove. However, by using kitchen detergent and baking soda, it can be removed more easily than you might imagine.

Steps

  1. Pour dishwashing liquid on the stain
    Apply it so that it entirely covers the stain.

  2. Dissolve baking soda with warm water in the bowl
    (e.g. 30g of baking soda per 600ml of water)

  3. Put the clothes in the bowl

  4. Rub the stained area
    Be sure to wring it out finely to avoid spreading the stain. 

  5. Rinse and wash
    After rinsing under running water, wash as usual and you are done.

How To Prevent Ink Stains

To protect our precious clothes from stains, what should we do? To prevent ink stains, it is essential to take quick action before the ink becomes dry.

First aid when ink is spilled

When ballpoint pen ink gets on your clothes, a quick first aid kit will help minimize stains. Especially with water-based and gel pens, the time it takes for the ink to dry is critical.

The first step is to tap it with a toothbrush with toothpaste to prevent it from settling. After that, do the stain removal described above as soon as possible.

Oil-based products are hard to dry. So just wash them on that day, and you’ll be fine.

Summary

When you get ink on your clothes, don’t just scrub it with water and soap. Not only will it not remove the ink, but it may spread the stain.

First, check what kind of ink it is and use the appropriate removal method for it.

To recap:

  • Neutral or alkaline detergent for water-based inks
  • Hand sanitizer for oil-based inks
  • Baking soda for fountain pen ink

Finally, if you have precious clothes that you don’t want to damage or fade, or if you don’t like to wash them in water, don’t hesitate to take them to the cleaners and let the professionals do the washing.

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