Removing Ink Stains from Fabric

Kids love to color and draw. As soon as they can hold a pen, they want to make their mark on the world or at least everything in their world. Sometimes this involves clothing, linens or even upholstery. I don’t know about you but I cannot afford to replace everything that gets a mark or stain on it. There are some ways to salvage our belongings when our little darlings become Picassos.

Water-Based Ink

Some inks are water-based like those colored markers kids are so fond of. Lay the affected fabric on top of a clean, white towel. Dampen the stained area and blot it with another clean white towel, removing the stain as you do so. Next, apply some of your laundry soap and work into the stain. Allow it to sit for about 5 minutes. Wash the fabric in the warmest temperature that is safe for that fabric. Repeat these steps as necessary to remove the stain before drying the fabric.

Permanent Inks

Permanent inks are pretty much what the name implies…permanent. There are some things you can try, however. Before beginning, test a hidden section of the garment to make sure the rubbing alcohol doesn’t harm it. Then lay the fabric on a clean white towel. Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto the stain and blot. The ink will discolor the cloth beneath so you will have to shift the cloth each time you do this to prevent creating a new ink stain on the fabric you are cleaning. Continue applying alcohol and blotting until no more ink can be extracted. Rinse the fabric thoroughly to remove the alcohol.

Fingernail polish remover is another option. Be sure to test the fabric and follow the same steps as for he alcohol. Acetone is a last resort as it doesn’t mesh with some fabrics and should not be used with acetate or rayon at all. Test and follow the steps described for alcohol.

Baking soda mixed with water and then scrubbed into the ink stain may lift some of the stain. Treat the stain with your usual stain treatment and wash according to the garment/fabric directions. If the ink persists, you can try the baking soda treatment again.

Ballpoint Pen Ink

My middle child drew a picture with a ballpoint pen on the end of my white sofa once upon a time. I don’t know what the fabric was but I couldn’t remove the stain at all. You can try all of the same steps as recommended for permanent inks. Never dry the fabric until you are sure you have removed all the ink possible. Drying it allows the stain to set permanently.