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How to Remove Ink Stains

Advice from our experts

Is your fabric bleach-safe?

Before you follow the steps for removing ink stains from fabric, first determine whether the item, if not white, is colorfast. Also, it’s important to know whether your fabric is bleach-safe.
Visit our How to Test Bleachability article to find out.

Is your fabric made any of these materials?

And, if the fabric is wool, silk, mohair, leather or spandex — regardless of color — you should never use bleach. Different fabrics call for different methods of stain removal.

One
Blot
Use a cloth to blot from the edges of the stain to keep the stain from spreading.
Two
Rinse
Rinse to remove excess ink.
Three
Mix
Add 3 tablespoons of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach with CLOROMAX® to 1 gallon of cool water. Soak shirt for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
Four
Add
For High Efficiency (HE) machines, pour Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach with CLOROMAX® into the bleach dispenser and fill to the maximum level.
For standard washing machines, add ½ cup of Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach with CLOROMAX® directly into the washing machine.
Five
Wash
Use the recommended amount of detergent. Wash on the warmest setting as recommended on the item’s care label.
Six
Check
Check to make sure the stain is gone. If the stain is still present, repeat the process.

FAQs

Q. How do you get dried ink out of clothes?
A. Follow the steps above for bleach-safe fabrics, or colored or white fabrics with spandex. However, large stains from a leaky pen will benefit from rinsing away the hand sanitizer and ink before treating with the appropriate bleach product.
Q. How do I get ink stains out of clothes that have been washed?
A. Follow the steps above for bleach-safe fabrics, or colored or white fabrics with spandex. However, you’ll probably need to repeat the treatment a few times. If the stains aren’t too heavy, you can still remove them even if they’ve been exposed to a hot dryer. Also, it’s important to note you should never use bleach on items that contain spandex, wool, silk, mohair or leather.
Q. Can vinegar remove ink stains?
A. If it’s a recent stain that has dried, you should be able to remove it with Clorox® Urine Remover. Then, do a follow-up treatment with a steam cleaner using the upholstery attachment.
Q. How do I remove blood stains from white sheets and clothes?
A. No. Vinegar is mildly acidic, but it won’t break up pen ink the same way alcohol-based hand sanitizer or bleach.
Q. Can you remove marker stains the same way you remove ink stains?
A. Removing marker stains is similar to removing ballpoint pen ink stains. For white, bleachable items, start by pretreating the stain with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel.
Read all about removing marker stains here.


Tip
Try pre-treating your ink stain with alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel.
Isopropyl alcohol, especially formulated as a hand sanitizer, is very effective at breaking up ballpoint pen ink by penetrating the weave or knit of a textile. This works better than plain isopropyl alcohol to break up the ink stain.
DO use a cloth to blot the edges of the stain to keep the stain from spreading.
DO use alcohol-based products to break up ink before applying a bleach product.
DO keep items out of a hot dryer until the stain is gone.
DO repeat a treatment if necessary—like if an item with a ballpoint pen ink stain has previously been in a hot dryer.
DON'T forget to pretreat an ink stain a second time with the appropriate bleach product after applying hand sanitizer.

Is your fabric bleach-safe?

Before you follow the steps for removing ink stains from fabric, first determine whether the item, if not white, is colorfast.

Is your fabric made any of these materials?

And, if the fabric is wool, silk, mohair, leather or spandex — regardless of color — you should never use bleach. Different fabrics call for different methods of stain removal.

One
Blot
Use a cloth to blot from the edges of the stain to keep the stain from spreading.
Two
Rinse
Rinse to remove excess ink.
Three
Pretreat
Before you wash, apply liquid Clorox 2® for Colors Stain Remover & Color Brightener directly to the stain and wait 5–10 minutes. Do not allow product to dry.
Four
Wash
Add more Clorox 2 for Colors® to the load with the recommended amount of detergent. Wash on the warmest setting as recommended on the item’s care label.
Five
Check
Check to make sure the stain is gone. If the stain is still present, repeat the process before drying.

FAQs

Q. How do you get dried ink out of clothes?
A. Follow the steps above for bleach-safe fabrics, or colored or white fabrics with spandex. However, large stains from a leaky pen will benefit from rinsing away the hand sanitizer and ink before treating with the appropriate bleach product.
Q. How do I get ink stains out of clothes that have been washed?
A. Follow the steps above for bleach-safe fabrics, or colored or white fabrics with spandex. However, you’ll probably need to repeat the treatment a few times. If the stains aren’t too heavy, you can still remove them even if they’ve been exposed to a hot dryer. Also, it’s important to note you should never use bleach on items that contain spandex, wool, silk, mohair or leather.
Q. Can vinegar remove ink stains?
A. If it’s a recent stain that has dried, you should be able to remove it with Clorox® Urine Remover. Then, do a follow-up treatment with a steam cleaner using the upholstery attachment.
Q. How do I remove blood stains from white sheets and clothes?
A. No. Vinegar is mildly acidic, but it won’t break up pen ink the same way alcohol-based hand sanitizer or bleach.
Q. Can you remove marker stains the same way you remove ink stains?
A. Removing marker stains is similar to removing ballpoint pen ink stains. For white, bleachable items, start by pretreating the stain with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel.
Read all about removing marker stains here.


Tip
Try pre-treating your ink stain with alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel.
Isopropyl alcohol, especially formulated as a hand sanitizer, is very effective at breaking up ballpoint pen ink by penetrating the weave or knit of a textile. This works better than plain isopropyl alcohol to break up the ink stain.
DO use a cloth to blot the edges of the stain to keep the stain from spreading.
DO use alcohol-based products to break up ink before applying a bleach product.
DO keep items out of a hot dryer until the stain is gone.
DO repeat a treatment if necessary—like if an item with a ballpoint pen ink stain has previously been in a hot dryer.
DON'T forget to pretreat an ink stain a second time with the appropriate bleach product after applying hand sanitizer.

Advice From Our Experts