The Expert Way to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

We've all been there: you're getting dressed up for date night or an evening out with friends, and you grab your favorite article of clothing for an easy, one-and-done outfit. You add in accessories (shoes, jewelry, and your go-to bag), and just as you're about to leave, you check your ensemble in a full-length mirror. That's when you see it: a huge ink stain sitting smack dab in the front of the garment. Whether it's black, blue, or red ink, or created with a ballpoint or rollerball pen, sometimes the unwelcome splatters just refuse to leave. Not to worry: you don't have to part with your beloved fashion item just because of an unfortunate blemish. So, how do you get ink stains out? There are different techniques, depending on the size and strength of the ink stain and the type of clothing. But trust us, it is totally doable.

Below are some of the best ways to get ink out of clothes.

How to Get Ink Out of Clothes

The good news is the removal of a small ink stain is an easy lift. Let's say you get a stain from a ballpoint pen on a piece of clothing that's easy to launder, such as a basic cotton T-shirt or your favorite worn-in jeans. For those, you'll want to use rubbing alcohol.

Start by laying a paper towel beneath the fabric, then you can begin to flush out the mark with the alcohol. Use another paper towel or a sponge to blot out the stain. Make sure to cover every part of the stain and press the alcohol into the fabric until you can't see the stain anymore. Let it soak in the alcohol for about 15 minutes before running the clothing under cold water. Apply stain remover, thoroughly rub it in, make sure the ink stain is completely gone, and throw the piece in the wash. When it's done with its washing cycle, let it air-dry. Then the stain should be completely gone.

Rubbing alcohol also works to remove stains from leather (just in case a loose pen swipes up against your favorite purse).

How to Get Strong Ink Stains Out of Clothes
Getty | FotoDuets

How to Get Strong Ink Stains Out of Clothes

To remove a larger, stronger ink stain or an ink stain on a delicate piece of clothing, you're going to want to start by running the item under cold water.

Try rubbing the fabric against itself to get some of the ink out. Then fill a bucket with hot water and mix in liquid laundry detergent and a splash of ammonia. Dip the clothing in the mixture and rub the stain with your hands and against the fabric, rubbing ink out.

Once you're done, let the item soak in the bucket for approximately an hour. You can vary the time depending on the size of the splotch. Check on it and stir and rub the stain as often as needed.

When the stain is faded or gone completely, rinse the clothing under cold water, rub in a little more liquid detergent, and throw it in the wash. After you let it air-dry, the stain should be gone.

How to Get Ink Out of Jeans
Getty | Wachiwit

How to Get Ink Out of Jeans

If you happen to notice that your favorite pair of jeans — the one that fits perfectly in all the right places — has an ink stain, don't panic. In this situation, isopropyl alcohol and table salt will be your best friends.

First, you'll want to grab a paper towel to blot out any extra ink. For denim, make sure to dab at the stain, rather than rub, just to make sure you don't rub any of the ink deeper into the fabric.

Next, you'll want to grab the salt. Sprinkle it generously over the stained area, then dab at it with a wet paper towel. Sweep off the excess salt, and repeat the process until there is no more ink appearing on the blotted salt and paper towel.

Once you've finished the salting process, lay out extra paper towels underneath the fabric, and grab the isopropyl alcohol. Add a couple of drops to the stain, and grab a cotton swab or toothbrush and scrub it into the ink. Once the splotch is gone, run the denim under cold water, and throw your jeans in the wash on a cold cycle.

Once you've finished, let them air-dry, and the ink should be completely gone.

How to Get Ink Out of Leather
Getty | Edward Berthelot

How to Get Ink Out of Leather

For the stains that may be at the bottom of your favorite leather purse or on those cute leather pants you like to wear on date night, there are a couple of solutions. The most important thing to know is timeliness is key; the quicker you notice the stain, the better, because letting ink settle into leather makes it much harder to get out.

The first option is to buy leather cleaner, which is specially formulated to remove ink stains from even the most delicate and worn-in leather pieces. The leather cleaner is also great for protecting your products and very easy to use.

The second option is simply soap and water, and this technique works better on the fresher stains. Grab a dry paper towel and blot at the stain to remove all the excess ink, then grab a new, damp paper towel, add a dollop of soap, and gently wipe at the ink until it's gone. Once you've finished, just let it air-dry.