How to Remove Stubborn Ink Stains

Updated on July 22, 2016

Considered tannin stains because they originate from plants, ink stains are more difficult to remove than protein-based stains derived from animal products. Knowing what tactics work and what to avoid, however, is the first step to defeating these stains. Because surface and fabric composition varies so much, different surfaces and fabrics require different techniques to avoid causing damage. As with all stain removal, try the method first on a hidden area to make sure it won't cause any serious damage.

Removing Ink From Washable Fabric

Washable fabrics, such as cotton, linen, nylon, spandex and polyester are some of the most commonly ink-stained materials. Because these items are worn daily and some are more fragile than others, take proper measures to avoid causing unnecessary damage while removing an ink stain.

  1. Spray the stain with hair spray to loosen the ink's hold on the fabric.
  2. Combine 1 quart of water, ½ teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  3. Soak the garment in the liquid for about 30 minutes, and then rinse clean with water.
  4. Allow the article of clothing to air dry, and check to see if the stain remains.
  5. If the stain persists, apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol directly to the affected area, and then cover with a clean cloth.
  6. Allow to stand until the stain is completely gone, changing out the cloth whenever it fills with ink.
  7. Keep the stain and the pad moist with rubbing alcohol throughout the process.
  8. If the stain is still on the clothing, combine 1 quart of water with ½ teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of ammonia.
  9. Soak the garment in the solution for 30 minutes, rinse with cold water and allow to dry.

Ink Stains on Non-washable Fabric

Non-washable fabrics such as acetate, burlap, carpet, wool, silk, fiberglass and rayon require more effort because they aren't as easily laundered. You can remove ink stains from these fabrics, however, if you use the right technique.

  1. Sponge the ink stain with cold water, and then coat the stain with hair spray.
  2. Add a few drops of white vinegar, and let stand for about 30 minutes, blotting every 5 minutes to remove as much ink as possible. Add additional vinegar as often as necessary to keep the stain moist.
  3. Flush with water after the 30 minutes has passed, and the ink stain should be gone. If it remains, repeat the treatment as needed.

Image Credit: Flickr.com/sejibodo
Image Credit: Flickr.com/sejibodo

Stone Surface Ink Stain Removal

While stone surfaces are rarely stained with ink, it still happens. Usually cleaning up the ink right away will prevent it from staining stone, but if you have a large ink spill or the ink's been sitting for a while, you may be left with an unsightly stain. This removal method applies to asphalt, brick, concrete, sandstone, terrazzo and slate.

  1. Combine a small amount of washing soda with water. Wash the stain with the solution until ink is no longer being removed.
  2. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the cleaning liquid, and brush gently for several minutes. Rinse with cold, clean water afterward, and inspect for any remnants of the stain.
  3. If the stain remains, repeat the process until it's completely gone.

Remove Ink From Soft Surfaces

Removing ink stains from soft surfaces such as vinyl, porcelain, cork, glass, plexiglass, ceramic and acrylic plastic requires little more than some elbow grease and ammonia. Ink doesn't bind well to these surfaces, which is evident if you try to write on one with a pen. Spilling a large amount of ink on a soft surface or allowing it to remain for a while may cause a more stubborn stain.

  1. Spray the ink stain with an all-purpose household cleaner and allow it to stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Wipe away the cleaner and most of the stain should be gone.
  3. If the ink stain remains, cover with ammonia or with a clean cloth dipped in ammonia.
  4. Leave it there for 5 to 10 minutes, and wipe clean again. The surface should be completely free of any ink. The process may be repeated for especially tough ink stains.

Image Credit: Flickr.com/mukluk
Image Credit: Flickr.com/mukluk

Remove Ink Stains From Wood

Ink can bind with wood easily, which makes it a very difficult stain to remove via traditional methods. Since wood is not like most surfaces, however, special measures may be taken to remove the ink - no matter how stubborn the stain.

  1. Mix liquid dishwashing detergent with water and form a large amount of suds.
  2. Dip a cloth in the foam portion of the liquid and gently wipe the stain several times.
  3. Rinse with clean, cold water and check for the stain.
  4. If the stain remains, dip superfine steel wool in liquid wax and wait for it to dry.
  5. Rub the stained area with the steel wool until the stain is completely gone. The steel wool will remove a fine layer from the wood's surface, the layer with the stain.
  6. Polish or wax the wood immediately after cleaning to prevent future mishaps.

Image Credit: Flickr.com/ragnarokr
Image Credit: Flickr.com/ragnarokr

Wallpaper

While ink stains on wallpaper may be few and far between, they happen. Luckily, there's a simple solution to the problem. Simply rub a pencil eraser on the stain until it's completely gone. Use small, gentle movements to avoid damaging the wallpaper. If this doesn't work, try washing with soap and water, using a wall-paper safe household cleaner or in severe cases, replacing the wallpaper.

Removing Tile Ink Stains

Ink stains don't typically adhere to linoleum or vinyl tile, so removing ink stains from these surfaces is easy most of the time. More serious stains do occur, though most often they require nothing more than a little household cleaner.

  1. Spray the stain with an all-purpose cleaner following the manufacturer's directions.
  2. Rinse away the cleaner, and the ink stain should be gone.
  3. If it remains, soak a clean cloth in ammonia and place it over the stained portion of tile.
  4. Leave it in place for about 15 minutes, then remove and rinse away any residue. The stain should be completely gone.
  5. If the stain lingers still, dip superfine steel wool in liquid floor wax and allow it to dry.
  6. Rub the stain with the steel wool until it's gone. This will remove a fine layer of the tile, so use this as a last resort only.
  7. Wash and dry the floor as usual after scrubbing.

Image Credit: Flickr.com/fortinbras
Image Credit: Flickr.com/fortinbras

Leather Ink Stain Removal

Unfortunately, ink stains on leather and suede items are usually permanent. A few methods exists, however, that you can attempt before tossing out your ink-stained leather and suede. They may not work in all cases, but they're definitely worth a try to won't cause any further damage.

  1. Apply a leather conditioner and cleaner to the stain following the manufacturer's directions. These vary from product to product, so be sure to check the instructions prior to applying. Test the product on a hidden portion of the jacket first to ensure no damage will occur.
  2. Allow the jacket to air dry, and then apply another application of the cleaner and conditioner.

Questions & Answers

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      • roger2435 profile image

        roger2435 

        8 years ago from Dayton, Ohio

        Thanks for the great tips.

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