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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Ink Stain

By Dr. Laundry October 10, 2011

Q:  I have an ink stain on my Police uniform shirt (cotton/poly blend).  What is the best way to remove the stain?

A:  I have a two-step process for dealing with ink stains that will hopefully help, but first you need to determine the colorfastness of the shirt.  Many colored dress shirts can be safely bleached. Check by doing a quick bleachability test:


  • Mix 2 tsp. Clorox® Regular-Bleach in ¼ cup water, apply a drop to a hidden area (hem, inside cuff) and blot dry.  No color change means the shirt can be safely bleached (and is what I would expect for a poly cotton uniform).


Next, treat the stain as follows:

  • Apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the stain and let it soak in for a few minutes.

  • Wash in the hottest water allowed (check the care label) with detergent and ¾ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Allow the shirt to air dry and check for success.


If the shirt doesn’t pass the bleachability test, then use Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster:

  • Apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to the stain and let it soak in for a few minutes.

  • Apply Clorox2® directly to the stain, wait five minutes, then wash in the hottest water allowed with detergent + Clorox2®.  Allow the shirt to air dry and check for success.


The biggest problem with ink stains is when it is super concentrated (like when a pen leaks).  If that’s the case, then it may require multiple treatments to get the stain completely out.  Just be sure to continue to air dry the shirt until you achieve success. 

Has anyone else had an unlucky encounter with a leaky pen recently?