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How to Get Ink and Pen Stains Out

Did the ballpoint pen in your front pocket explode? Did you accidentally toss an ink pen into the washer with your favorite pants? Or perhaps your printer ink cartridge decided to start leaking as you were placing it in the printer? While ink and pen stains on clothing and homeware are often dark and messy, there are some very easy strategies for getting them out, so you can move on with the rest of your day.

How to Get Ink and Pen Stains Out

Types of Ink and Pen Stains

The first thing you need to do when you come across an ink stain is identify what caused it. Was it a marker? A biro? Printer ink? The type of ink stain may determine what your next steps are.

How to Get Ink Out of Clothes: Step by Step


  1. Choose a Persil detergent you need based on the type of laundry, most likely a pre-treatment with alcohol (available in drugstores or pharmacies) helps to break down ink stains.
  2. Pre-treat the stain by dabbing it with an absorbent pad with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol.
  3. Wash the fabric in as hot a temperature as possible according to the manufacturer’s label.
  4. Check to see if the ink and pen stain is gone.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

Choosing Your Detergent and Stain Remover

Take a close look at the instructions on the manufacturer’s label before you choose an ink remover. Persil Universal Powder or Persil Universal Gel detergent works well to get rid of the stains for white laundry items. Persil Color Powder keeps your colors bright while removing stains. More sensitive clothing may require Perwoll Care.

A pre-treating the ink stain by applying alcohol can boost the stain removal efficiency.

Pre-Treat the Stain

For most ballpoint pen stains or stains caused by ink from other types of pens, you simply need to apply a bit of liquid detergent directly onto the stain and gently massage it into the material.

If you need to know how to get ink out of clothes from a permanent marker or printer ink, the job is a little more involved. With printer ink, try to remove as much of the ink as possible by placing two paper towels on either side of the fabric. Rub the backside of the fabric, pushing out as much of the ink stain as possible.

In any case it is advisable to pre-treat the ink stain by dabbing it with an absorbent pad with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol (available in drugstores or pharmacies).

Wash the Ink-Stained Fabric

Wash the fabric immediately after pre-treatment. Many ball pen inks are water soluble, making stain removal simple. But there are also some stubborn ink stains where oxygen bleach is necessary to get rid of it. In that cases do the washing at the highest recommended temperature and use  your selected Persil detergent for washing.

Check the Stain

After washing, check the stain to see if they are still present. If you need to remove ink stains from shirts or remove ink stains from jeans that are dark, you may not be able to see if the stain is still there until it is dry. Always air dry these items first. Drying in the dryer will set the stain and make it much harder to remove. If you can still see the stain, repeat these steps.

Removing Ink Stains From Different Types of Laundry and Special Fabrics

Certain types of laundry, like bags, tablecloths, suits and dresses, may not be machine washable, but suitable for hand washing. In this cases pre-treat the stain, then wash your item gently by hand, rinsing it carefully and leave it to air dry.

Be careful when using these steps on certain fabrics. Tough fabrics, like denim, vinyl, polyester, nylon and linen, may be easily treated for ink and pen stains then washed in a washing machine. Other fabrics, like silk, suede, leather and wool, may require handwashing to avoid damage.


Ink and Pen Stains: Special Conditions

Getting rid of stains after washing or drying the fabric is much more difficult than when the stain is wet. However, it can be done in some cases. To get rid of old, dried stains proceed according to the recommendations above by doing pre-treatment with alcohol.

Soak the garment for 1 to 2 hours or even over night with your selected Persil detergent . Then do washing at the highest possible temperature with your selected Persil detergent.

Repeat if necessary.


Home Remedies for Ink and Pen Stain Removal

Homemade stain removers and natural stain removers may work in a pinch, but can often come with unforeseen consequences you may want to avoid. Lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide and bleach may alter the color of your clothing. Vinegar may damage plastic and rubber materials in your washer. Many natural stain removers also take a long time to work.

Ink and pen stains can be easy to remove when they’re fresh, so tackle them as quickly as possible.

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