Removing Ink Stains: A Surprising Solution!

I’ve had several people ask me about how to deal with INK STAINS lately. Trust me, I don’t go LOOKING for new cleaning ideas to post…but for some reason they keep finding me! And of course my obsessive curious nature compels me to search for answers and then try them out for myself. I gotta tell ya…it’s pretty thrilling when something actually works that you really didn’t think would!

INK STAINS are the perfect example!

After several people inquired about how to get ink stains out of fabric. I did some research and was surprised to find the two most common “remedies” used are hand sanitizer and hair spray! (Others I found…Cutter’s Insect Repellent and cold milk! True story.)

While I didn’t have any current ink stains to test these out on…I decided to “sacrifice” one of these expensive flour sack towels I recently purchased at Walmart. :-)

Here are my unscientific (but quite convincing!) results:

Top Photo: After writing on this end of the towel…I sprayed liberally with Suave Professional
hairspray (the only hairspray we had in the house)!

Bottom Photo: On this end of the towel I covered the ink with Purell with Aloe hand sanitizer
(which I bought at Walgreens and had been sitting in a cupboard in my laundry room for well over a year!)

I made a half-hearted attempt at rubbing the spray and the gel into the ink stains…but really didn’t try all that hard. Then I waited maybe 10 minutes (I was impatient) and threw them both into the washing machine. I washed in HOT water using my regular (homemade) detergent and my regular (homemade) Shout. Since I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to work on the first try and I would end up doing this whole routine at least a 2nd time…I just let it run through one regular washing cycle.  No extra agitatingno extra soaking time.

When the load had finished…I went to see if I’d at least made a DENT in the ink stains and quite honestly was shocked to find that the towel was COMPLETELY STAIN FREE.  I actually double-checked inside the washer to make sure there this wasn’t actually a different towel that had accidentally made it in with this load. Nope. Only other thing in the washer were a few dish rags I’d thrown in at the last minute.

FRONT and BACK: After ONE washing! Can YOU find any ink???

I took the towel out and laid it on the kitchen counter where I had done the ink staining in the first place…and believe it or not…I couldn’t even tell where I had written on it. I tried. I really did. Since I wasn’t even sure where the ink had been in the first place…I took pictures of the entire towel, both sides…to cover my bases. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

This was definitely one of those experiences where I thought I had it “all figured out” and was completely wrong. I mean come on! Hair spray?Hand sanitizer?I realize they both have alcohol in them which is most likely what made them effective….but I was so certain that while they would both make somewhat of a difference…there was no way they could COMPLETELY eliminate the stain.

Normally I really don’t like being proven wrong….but in this case I’ll be more than happy to make an exception. :-)

A few more tips from a long-time manager of a laundromat

 


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Comments

    • Pam says

      I’m so impressed! I accidentally washed some brown corduroy pants with a black ball point pen, including into the dryer somehow! What a mess. There were about 15 black spots on the pants! Just tried the Purell and it is almost all gone. I’m re doing two areas but I’m sure they will be gone, too! Thanks so much for the tip!

  1. Lindsay says

    My daughter took ink pens to my microfiber glider multiple times when she was younger (I didn’t learn my lesson and hide the pens after the first time). Hairspray and a cloth…like magic eraser for ink on upholstery!

    Fast forward a few months…red crayon on my white dining room chairs. Now this took elbow grease, but WD40 sprayed directly on the crayon, allowed to penetrate for a while, followed by Dawn and a clean water sponge rinsing…completely removed all traces of red crayon! Thank goodness!

  2. says

    Would this work on an ink stain that has been sitting in the fabric for months??? We tried every other method of stain removal and I finally gave up. However, the pants were brand new and I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them. I’m gonna go try your method….!!! Cross your fingers for me..I really do love these pants!

  3. Heather B says

    Undiluted ammonia works great for taking out crayon that went through the dryer. I just put some in a spray bottle, spray where the crayon melted, and wash normally. Just came across your site and LOVE it!

  4. Sam says

    The common thing to hand sanitiser, and hair spray is ” alcohol” I’m a hair dresser, we use hairspray to remove dye stains as well. ( spray it on before the dye sets in) I’m pretty sure rubbing alcohol, although I have not tried it, may have more to do with it ( diluted of course)

  5. says

    My baby boy “artistically” painted my favourite fabric book cover (sewed and embellished by myself) with a violet ink lighter; totally in panic I googled looking for a solution, and found the hot milk recipe… and despite of my skepticism IT WORKED PERFECTLY!!! Cheap, easy, quick and amazingly effective, I recommend it.

  6. Selwyn says

    Just tried this tip on my £200 golf jacket. And it appears to have done the trick. I only hope that when it dries out,the colour of the jacket hasnt faded as well. The surplus milk that was on the jacket was tinted with the red colour of the coat.

  7. Cathy says

    How would the hand sanitizer work on bright red jeans? My daughter unfortunately got black Sharpie (permanent marker) on her red jeans, and we aren’t sure how to get it out, without taking the color out of the jeans.

  8. Diane says

    I carry hand sanitizer all the time. I use it to get out all sorts of stains from clothes. If it doesn’t remover the stains entirely, then it makes them easier to remove when doing laundry.
    It is great to get rid of coffee stains from cotton shirts!

  9. Trish says

    Omg!!!! IT WORKED!! I just got a new designer bag from my sister for my birthday -when I say just a mean the day before!!! I know she would be very disappointed that I already damaged the bag! One of my pen went rogue at the bottom of the bag and it was one big mess on liner. In a hurry I goggled remedies and ur article popped up! I used the hand sanitizer and that thing worked in seconds!!! Worked like a charm!!! You saved me!! thanx

    • keyaleya says

      Trish its so ironic that I was doing this search for the same reason and come across your post. The only difference is my boyfriend brought my designer bag and he would absolutely kill me if he knew that ink is all inside the bag because he paid $1830 for it. However, the hand sanitizer thing is not working for me. Did you let it sit on the stain for a few seconds? Did you rub or blot? Any tips that you can pass along will definitely grately appreciated.

  10. says

    o w tym momencie zero z wyjątkiem polem
    reflektorów, Porfirio spoza którego dobiega chichot również urągliwe nawoływanie.

    Tak duża liczba rózgi po tej stronie byli, tylu dowieźli do granicznego mostu.
    Tudzież jeszcze im się nie
    znudziło. Jeszcze się śmieją także celują im w plecy.

    Finalnie zrozumiał. Oni tak naprawdę nienawidzą, Odwlekają,
    iżby ktokolwiek odwrócił się,
    pobiegł ku tyłowi. Ażeby wolno stało się nacisnąć język spustowy.

    Cienie co chwila dłu�.

  11. sashley says

    lol i tried what i thought to be hand sanitizer but was actually a travel size bottle of aloe vera 100% gel and it worked as well (= but keep in mind it was only two tiny spots. just thought id share ha!

  12. bpddaddy says

    It worked! I used both hairspray and purell hand sanitizer. After spraying liberally with both, the ink began to spread to other parts of the shirt. So I kept covering the other areas. Through it in the washer on Hot and all gone. Thank you. Just saved a brand new shirt, only worn one time.

  13. Patti says

    Do you know if this works on a sweater? I have a sweater that an ink pen exploded on. I’m afraid if I do this the ink will spread to other parts of the sweater – but I guess I’ve got nothing to lose. Can’t wear it the way it is now.

    • Abbie Bullard says

      You can ink off of an American Girls arm with a magic eraser! Works like a charm on my girls barbies, and baby dolls, when nothing else would touch the dirt and stains on them!

  14. krissy says

    I tried rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, hairspray, and hand sanitizer.. nothing it working. I have a pink lululemon jacket that go stained with a black ink BIC soft feel med. pen and I washed it and dried it and then realized it was stained and been trying to get it out and nothing is working, help!

  15. Tanya says

    I woke to purple ink on my couch. It’ microfiber light green. I’ve read the hairspray and hand sanitizer deal, but I can’t throw the couch in the washer. What to do now? I’m afraid to spray and have it spread and nothing else to do. Help! :) Thanks!

  16. anonymous says

    I just washed and dried some nice shirts to only discover a felt pen in the dryer. Everything was blue. I read your post and thought I would try it but I don’t have hairspray or sanitizer. I busted out the good old fashion rubbing alcohol. soaked everything for ten minutes, washed and NO more stains. Many thanks!!!

    • Leslie says

      I used hair spray to remove ink from a pair of my husband’s nice beige shorts that had previously gone through the wash and dryer with a leaky pen. I let the hair spray soak on the soiled areas for about 10 minutes and then washed them in hot water with Shout and detergent. The ink is totally gone and they look fabulous!

  17. BERNARD BEGLEY says

    JUST FOUND YOUR SITE!!!! IT IS GREAT! i HAVE A PROBLEM. yOU ARE TO YOUNG TO REMEMBER THE DAYS WHEN LAUNDRIES PICKED UP YOUR LAUNDRY AND RETURNED IT IN PRISTINE CONDITION AND THE LINENS WERE SOFTLY GLAZED. i AM LOOKING FOR SUCH A LAUNDRY OR FIND OUT HOW THEY DID IT. I STILL ENTERTAIN FORMALLY AND HAVE A LARGE
    COLLECTION OF 19TH CENTURY LINENS. CAN YOU HELP?

    I WRITE IN UPPER CASES DUE TO SIGHT PROBLEMS.

    SGT. BERNARD BEGLEY
    KOREA 1953-55

    REMEMBER OUR MILITARY AND THEIR FAMILIES.
    DO NOT FORGET ‘THE FORGOTTEN WAR’

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