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Homekeeping · Cleaning · Laundry · Surprisingly, This Is How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothes

Surprisingly, This Is How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothes

Whether from a pen explosion or a husband who routinely fails to check his pockets, ink stains can happen to the best of us. Learn how to remove ink stains from your clothes here!

A few years back, I received quite a few emails from different readers asking how to solve one particularly vexing laundry issue—the dreaded ink stain. While I have personally witnessed many ink stains over the years (thanks to a husband who often forgets to check his pockets for pens before putting things in the wash), I hadn’t thought to actually attempt removing them!

But after receiving several of those reader emails asking how to get ink out of clothes, I was determined to figure it out. Even if I had to sacrifice a few towels in the process! 😉

What I discovered was that not only is it possible to remove ink stains, but it’s not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be! (But don’t go around telling people that, alright? It’s more fun to let your family believe that you truly are some sort of laundry wizard.)

The Ink Stain Removal Trials

During my first round of ink stain removal trials, I compared two different products that I had read promising things about online: hairspray and hand sanitizer.

Both worked quite well at removing pen ink from fabric, which I chalked up to the fact that both products contain a powerful solvent in the form of ethanol. I figured if ethanol was the key, then why shouldn’t rubbing alcohol would work as well or better than hairspray or hand sanitizer?

So I decided to do a second round of ink removal trials, this time comparing four potential solvents: hairspray, hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and nail polish remover. And to my genuine surprise, hand sanitizer emerged as the clear winner!

I still can’t explain exactly what gives hand sanitizer the edge that the other three candidates clearly lack, but I suppose the results speak for themselves! If I encounter an ink stain in the future (which I undoubtedly will), I’ll be reaching for hand sanitizer from now.

Here’s how you can use hand sanitizer to remove ink stains of your own!

How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothes

You’ll need:


To remove an ink stain, apply hand sanitizer liberally to the stain. Then grab an old toothbrush and scrub the stain for a minute or two to help work the solvent into the fibers of the fabric.

After scrubbing, toss the item in your washing machine and launder as usual. If the stain isn’t entirely gone, repeat the process and wash again (and don’t dry the item until you’re satisfied that the ink stain is completely gone!)

You can use this method to remove ink stains from cotton clothing, carpet, denim jeans, and more. (Keep in mind that small stains are likely to be easier to remove than large ones, and be sure to test your fabric for colorfastness if you’re concerned about fading.)

I never would have guessed that removing ink stains would end up being so simple! And if you have a question or quandary of your own, my inbox is always open! 🙂

What’s the toughest laundry stain you’ve ever tackled?

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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