A pen on a pair of jeans stained with ink

HOW TO REMOVE INK STAINS FROM CLOTHES

When it comes to removing pen ink stains from clothes, pretreating items prior to machine-washing can help. From trusted work pants to your favorite T-shirts, treating clothes with solutions like rubbing alcohol or hairspray before thoroughly rinsing using warm cycles can help keep your clothes looking good as new.

When you discover an ink stain on your clothes, rest assured that it’s possible to get ink stains out with a little patience. Follow the steps below for helpful stain removal tips to learn how to get pen ink out of clothes. Always check and follow your appliance and product use and care instructions before beginning any task, as it should be your primary source of information.

An ink stain on the inside pocket of a pair of jeans An ink stain on the inside pocket of a pair of jeans

DOES INK STAIN CLOTHES PERMANENTLY?

Pen ink can be a real pain to deal with, especially when you notice a stain on the clothes you wear the most. However, ink stains can usually be removed with cleaning products and a bit of time — the key is to act quickly and use the right methods, such as proper pretreating and warm wash cycles.

HOW TO GET INK STAINS OUT OF CLOTHES

Good for: cotton, cotton/poly blends, polyester, spandex, nylon, wool, silk, linen, rayon and acrylic fabrics, white clothes, lights, darks, jeans, sweaters, blouses, sheer fabrics, neckties, activewear, swimsuits, towels, sheets 

Note: For delicate fabrics, consider talking to a professional cleaner. 

Accidental ink stains can be frustrating, but proper pretreatment with solutions like rubbing alcohol or hairspray can help. Before treating ink stains, consult care labels for item-specific care instructions, and remember to thoroughly rinse items before washing. For stubborn stains, you can add detergent or stain treatment to the area before washing on a warm cycle. Follow these steps to treat your stained clothes.

SUPPLIES
  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Detergent or stain treatment
  • Warm water

TOOLS
  • Paper towel

  • Washing machine

Stained shirt icon

STEP 1: TEST STAIN REMOVAL PROCESS

To help protect the garment, test the removal process on a hidden area before continuing.

Wet surface icon

STEP 2: PUT RUBBING ALCOHOL ON STAIN

Place a paper towel on the stain. From the back side of the fabric, drip rubbing alcohol onto the stained area.

Repeat wet surface icon

STEP 3: REPEAT TREATMENT

Remove the paper towel. If the ink stain remains, repeat with a new one until the stain is gone.

Detergent bottle icon

STEP 4: RINSE AND WASH

Thoroughly rinse the item with warm water before washing in the hottest cycle safe for the garment. If desired, apply detergent or stain treatment to the stain before starting the wash cycle.

Fan icon

STEP 5: DRY THE GARMENT

After treating and washing, allow the item to air dry. Avoid drying items in the dryer to reduce the risk of setting the stain. If the stain remains after treatment, repeat the above process as necessary until the stain is removed.

Treating an ink stain on the inside pocket of a pair of jeans Treating an ink stain on the inside pocket of a pair of jeans

WHAT HOME REMEDIES TAKE INK OUT OF CLOTHES?

Ink can sometimes feel impossible to get out, but there are a few home remedies that can help remove ink stains from your favorite clothing items. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol on hand, for example, you can use an alternative product like hairspray to help lift the ink stain from the fabric.

Other products containing isopropyl alcohol may help remove ink stains from clothes, such as hand sanitizer. However, it’s important to rinse clothing thoroughly with warm water after treatment to ensure no traces of the solution remains before placing items in the washing machine. Before testing home remedies on any stain, be sure to apply products to hidden areas of the garment to prevent further damage. You can also protect your items by checking care labels before applying any solution or treatment to the fabric.

A clean pair of jeans A clean pair of jeans

WHAT CLEANING PRODUCTS SHOULD YOU USE TO REMOVE INK STAINS?

In addition to common household products like hairspray and hand sanitizer, other products like baking soda or vinegar may also be powerful enough to interact with the ink and help make the stain easier to remove. Look for cleaning products containing isopropyl alcohol to help break down the stain. Remember to fully rinse off the treatment prior to machine-washing items.

Before treating any stained item with the following solutions, don’t forget to test the treatment on a hidden area of the garment to protect the fabric against additional damage.

WILL BAKING SODA REMOVE INK STAINS?

Commonly found in your pantry, baking soda is a gentle abrasive that may be able to break up ink stains and help make them easier to remove. 

To use baking soda on an ink stain, simply combine baking soda and water to form a paste. Then, apply the mixture to the stained area before rinsing thoroughly and washing the item on a warm cycle.

DOES VINEGAR REMOVE INK STAINS?

Vinegar is a natural stain remover that can serve as a gentler alternative to harsh chemicals for treating your favorite sweaters, cardigans or slacks. To remove ink with vinegar, try soaking the stained area in a mixture of vinegar and water before thoroughly rinsing and washing the item as usual.

DOES HAND SANITIZER REMOVE INK STAINS?

Like hairspray, hand sanitizer contains about 70–95% isopropyl alcohol depending on the brand, which can help break down ink and release it from fabric. To remove ink stains from your clothes, try applying hand sanitizer to the stain, pressing a paper towel to the area to help lift the ink. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.

When using an alternative solution like hair spray or hand sanitizer, always remember to test out the stain removal process on a hidden area to prevent further damage to the garment. Be sure to also thoroughly rinse items treated with alcohol-based solutions before putting them through a washer cycle.

Maytag tip icon

INK STAIN REMOVAL TIPS

Ink stains can be some of the toughest to remove, which means you may have to get creative to remove them from clothes and other surfaces completely. Whether it's a well-loved pair of jeans or a new couch cover, you can try removing ink stains with the right techniques. 

 

  • Avoid rubbing ink stains, which can cause the ink to spread to other areas of the fabric, upholstery or carpet.

  • If treating fresh ink left from a ballpoint pen or felt-tip marker, act quickly to avoid drying or transfer to other items.

  • Experiment with different household products like vinegar, baking soda and hand sanitizer on hidden areas to limit visible damage from staining. 

  • Consider consulting a professional cleaner for help with difficult stains on areas that can’t be machine-washed after treatment with rubbing alcohol, such as carpet, leather, canvas or velvet upholstery.
  • Rinse out the treated area completely before machine-washing to protect both the fabric and your washer from the effects of the treatment.

SHOP MAYTAG® WASHERS

Washers by Maytag brand have the power to get your clothes clean. With features like the Deep Fill Option and the Extra Power Button on select Maytag® washers, you can power through tough stains each laundry day. Explore washing machines by Maytag brand and discover the one that’s right for your home.

GET MORE TIPS FOR TACKLING LAUNDRY WITH MAYTAG BRAND

Was this article helpful? Pass it on