Removing Ink Stains

Posted by Dr. Laundry on 9 October 2013

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How do I remove ink stains from a pen left in the wash cycle?


Finding a pen in your laundry after it has been through the dryer is so frustrating--the heat from the dryer makes a stain that is already difficult to get out that much harder to remove. First, you need to determine the colorfastness of the item. Many colored garments can be safely laundered with Clorox® Regular-Bleach, it just depends on the dye used, and how it was applied. You can do a quick bleachability test to be sure. Mix 1 ½ teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach in ¼ cup water, apply a drop of the solution to a hidden area (hem, inside cuff) and blot dry. No color change means the item can be safely bleached, and you would treat the stain as follows:

1. Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the stain and let it soak in for a few minutes.
2. Wash in the hottest water allowed (check the care label) with detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular- Bleach.
3. Allow the item to air dry and check for success.


If the garment doesn’t pass the bleachability test, then give liquid Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster a try. For such a tough stain, apply it directly to the stain instead of presoaking. The process is pretty similar to the one above: 1. Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the stain and let it soak in for a few minutes.
2. Apply Clorox2® directly to the stain, wait 5-10 minutes, then wash in the hottest water recommended with detergent and more Clorox2®.
3. Allow the item to air dry and check for success.

Note that if your item contains any spandex, it shouldn’t be washed with any products that contain sodium hypochlorite, even if the item is white. Spandex (along with wool, silk, mohair, and leather) should never be bleached! If that’s the case, Clorox2® is the appropriate product to use following pretreatment with the hand sanitizer

You can also try the Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel if your item is white and safely bleachable. It has a lower sodium hypochlorite concentration than regular bleach and is safe to apply directly to appropriate fabrics, so you can use it to pre-treat the ink stain after the hand sanitizer step. Just apply a little gel to the stain, gently rub in using the soft scrubber tip, and then wash immediately in the recommended wash temperature using detergent and ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.

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