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How to Get Ink Out of Clothes After Drying

Businessman with an ink stained shirt

Removing ink stains from clothing, like jeans and shirts, is possible even after drying. With hand sanitizer and fabric treatment, you can remove stubborn stains.

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By Mary Gagliardi
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Because ink is designed to stay on whatever surface you apply it to, when pen marks stain clothing and fabric, machine washing won’t be enough to get the stain out.

Instead, you need to use a special stain pretreating technique prior to machine washing, starting with alcohol-based hand sanitizer gel. The alcohol and thickening agents in the hand sanitizer help it soak into your fabric and begin to dissolve the ink stain. Then you pretreat again with Liquid Clorox 2® for Colors, which is appropriate for nearly all machine washable items, including jeans and colored clothes.

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This technique is effective on a variety of different types of ink, from pen ink to highlighter and marker stains. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see just how easy it is to get ink stains out all the way, even if they’ve been dried through a hot dryer.

Gather your supplies

Steps to remove ink stains from clothes

  1. 1

    Squirt alcohol-based hand sanitizer on the stain

    Use enough to saturate the stain. This will start to break up the ink, and you will see the stain begin to lighten. Let the hand sanitizer gel stay on the ink stain for a few minutes before continuing.

    hand sanitizer
  2. 2

    Apply Liquid Clorox 2® for Colors to the stain

    Use the cap to apply the Clorox 2® product directly to the stain and gently rub it in. Allow the Clorox 2® product to stay on your fabric for 10 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t lose track of the time and leave it on any longer. Do not let the product dry on your clothing.


    When used full strength to pretreat, Clorox 2® should not dry out on fabric.

    clorox 2 liquid pouring from bottle
  3. 3

    Machine wash the clothing

    After 10 minutes, pretreating is complete and it’s time to machine wash your clothes. Select the hottest water possible, and add a little more Clorox 2® along with your regular laundry detergent. When the wash cycle is complete, air dry your clothing and check to make sure the ink stain is completely removed.

    front load washing machine

You can always repeat the two pretreatment steps to get a super concentrated ink stain all the way out.


For items labeled “machine wash cold” consider using a “warm” wash temperature to improve your chances of getting the stain out.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get permanent marker out of my clothes?

Permanent markers are designed to be just that, permanent. Even so, if you repeat the two-step pretreatment method including hand sanitizer and machine wash a few times, there’s a chance you will successfully get rid of the marker stain!

Can I use full-strength Clorox® Bleach on ink stains?

No. Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach should always be diluted with water first before allowing it to contact any soft or hard surface. Don’t give in to the temptation to apply full strength bleach to ink stains — in time the area that was exposed to undiluted bleach could end up with a hole.

Instead, if you have an ink stain on a bleach-safe item you can always pretreat it with a bleach and water solution made with ¼ cup bleach added to ¾ cup water. Apply the bleach and water solution to the stain and then immediately machine wash the item using detergent and ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach. Remember to pretreat with alcohol-based hand sanitizer first before applying the bleach and water solution!