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How to remove ink from clothes

By Dr. Laundry March 19, 2015

Q: How to remove ink from clothes?

 

A: I wish I knew a little more about what item you have an ink stain on, and what type of ink it is, because that information affects how you might treat the stain for removal.  In general, I recommend a two-step process for dealing with ink stains that I hope will help you.  Before you start, you need to determine the colorfastness of the item if it’s not white.  (Note that you should always avoid bleaching wool, silk, mohair, leather, and spandex regardless of their color).  Many colored garments actually can be safely bleached, and you can quickly test your item to be sure.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach to 1/4 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, and you can 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 1/2 cup Clorox Regular-Bleach.  Allow the item to air dry and check for success.
 
If the item doesn’t pass the bleachability test, then you can use Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Boster 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 + 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 after the hand sanitizer step.  Just apply a little bleach gel to the stain, rub in, and then wash immediately in hot water and detergent + 1/2 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.

Another problem with ink stains is when the ink is from a gel pen or other type of permanent marker, which, as the name says, really is permanent.  These ink stains are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for writing.

 –Dr. Laundry