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How To Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

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Whether you inadvertently grazed your sleeve while jotting down a message or your pen-obsessed toddler got to your laundry pile before you did, don’t fret: Carolyn Forte, Director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab in the Good Housekeeping Institute, has two simple methods to remove ink stains from clothes, stat.

Different ink stains require different care, so make sure you follow the appropriate how-to guide depending on if you’re trying to remove ballpoint pen or felt-tip pen ink.

How to Remove Ballpoint Pen Ink

Good news: Ballpoint ink is the easiest type of ink to remove from clothes. Follow these instructions to make your clothes look like new again.

  1. Place a paper towel under the stain and sponge it with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Use an eyedropper to apply alcohol directly onto the stain or, for a larger spot, pour the alcohol into a small dish, immerse the stained area and soak for 15 minutes. The ink should begin to dissolve almost immediately. Continue sponging and blotting the stain until no further ink is released from the fabric.
  3. Rinse under cool water, apply a pre-wash stain remover, like Shout Advanced Gel, and wash the garment in hottest water with a bleach that’s safe for the fabric. Check that the ink is completely removed before tossing the item in the dryer.

    1. How to Remove Felt-Tip Pen Ink

      Removing felt-tip ink is a bit more time consuming — but not impossible, as long as you follow this guide.

      1. Rinse the stain under cold water to flush out as much of the ink as you can.
      2. Fill a basin with hot water and pour in a bleach-free, liquid laundry detergent, like GH Seal Star Tide. The amount you’d use to hand wash a blouse should do, plus a couple splashes of ammonia. Stir the solution and immerse the garment. Give the stain a rub with your fingers, and let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
      3. If it’s a stubborn stain, let it soak overnight, giving it a rub every so often. Soon you’ll see it starting to fade. To help it along, mix up a fresh solution or add a bit more ammonia. When the stain is gone, rinse the garment, rub in a bit more liquid laundry detergent and wash as usual. As with any stain, air dry the garment until you are certain the stain is completely removed.

        1. How to Get Ink Out of Leather

          If your pen cap fell off in your purse, don’t worry. Just dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and lightly rub the stain to wipe away the marks. If your purse has a shiny patina or a glossy surface, it’s probably been coated and will be easier to treat. Use a commercial product designed specifically for this purpose, like Weiman Leather Cleaner & Conditioner. If that doesn’t work, take your item to a dry cleaner that specializes in treating leather.

          Can you use hairspray to get ink out of clothes?

          Over the years, this product has earned a reputation for removing ink stains, because of the alcohol in its formula. However, many of today’s sprays contain less alcohol, so they aren’t as effective on ink stains as older formulas were. If you really want to tackle ink, stick with the above options.

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