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How Do I Get Ink Out Of Clothes?

By Dr. Laundry September 14, 2015

Q: How do I get ink marks out of clothes,  purses, and jackets? Most importantly clothes because for some reason all of us seem to get ink stains on our shirts pants etc. Please help with any suggestions you may have. Thank You A: This is such a great question.  Ink varies in how difficult it is to remove, primarily because not all ink is created equal.  Inks from gel pens and Sharpie markers are designed to be permanent on paper and other surfaces, and are generally permanent on cotton and other fabrics, as well.  Ball point pens, on the other hand, can be removed from most washable fabrics using a two-step process that I hope will help you. Before you start, you’ll need to confirm that you can safely bleach the stained items.  Start with the care labels–you should always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex items regardless of their color.  Many colored garments actually can be safely bleached, and you can quickly test an item to be sure.  To do this, add 1 ½ teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to ¼ cup water, and apply a drop to a hidden area (inside herm or cuff) of the item.  Wait one minute, then blot dry.  No color change means the item can be safely bleached.  Set aside any items with spandex or those that don’t pass the bleachability test–you’ll wash those items with Clorox2®.  Treat the items that can be safely bleached 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.  Allow the item to air dry and check for success. For colored items that didn’t pass the bleachability test or white items with spandex, then you can use Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster as follows: 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 five minutes, then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label with detergent + more Clorox2®.  Allow the item to air dry and check for success. The biggest problem with a stain like this is if the ink is super concentrated–it may require multiple treatments to get the stain out.  For white, bleachable items you can also use Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel to pre-treat an ink stain directly as follows: 1.  Apply alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the stain and let it soak in for a few minutes. 2.  Apply Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel directly the stain and rub it in using the soft scrubber tip, and then wash immediately in hot water using detergent + ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach. For a super concentrated stain (especially one that’s been sitting around for a while), you will likely need to repeat the treatment for complete success, so be sure to keep the item out of the dryer while you are working on it. You mentioned other items besides clothes like jackets and purses.  You should be able to use the methods above on any washable item (either machine or hand washable) but items labeled “dry clean only” should be taken to a dry cleaner.  Be sure to show them the stain so they can mark it for pretreatment.  Leather items should go to a professional cleaner that specializes in the care of leather. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing! –Dr. Laundry