how to remove ink stains from clothes.

Posted by smol on



Hands up if you’ve ever drawn on your own clothes by accident? Or if your kids have come home looking as though they’ve had a fight with a felt tip?

It’s super ink-onvenient! 

BUT there are stain removal steps you can take that should get your clothing back to normal.

And as ALWAYS, there are some golden rules to follow whichever stain removal method you opt for.

      1. Act fast. Older, dried in stains are always harder to remove.
      2. Patch test your chosen method on a discrete area of your clothing.
      3. Always follow washing instructions as dictated by your clothing care label.

water or oil?

First and foremost you’ll want to work out if the ink that’s stained your clothing is water-based or oil-based.

Rollerball pens, fountain pens and gel pens all usually use water based inks and you should find stains from these pens a little easier to remove.

Ballpoint pens and biros are usually oil-based inks and because the oily ink won’t dissolve in water, these stains can be a little trickier to remove.

and the fabric itself?

You’ll also discover that different fabrics will soak up an ink stain at different rates. Something like a cotton top will be far more absorbent to an ink spill than say a nylon running vest. 

removing oil-based ink stains from clothes.

Remember, these are the trickier stains from ballpoints and biros. Water and soap is probably not going to work. 

1. clear hand sanitiser.

smol plastic-free cloths
  1. Apply clear hand sanitiser to a clean cloth (ensure it’s a sanitiser of around 70% alcohol).
  2. Pat the sanitiser into the clothing fibres to soak the stain. Do not rub it in.
  3. Leave for a few minutes before rinsing under cool water.
  4. Wash your garment as normal according to the clothing care label but don’t exceed a 40°C wash.

2. nail polish remover.

  1. Pour nail varnish remover (the type that contains acetone) onto a clean cloth.
  2. Blot the remover onto the stain.
  3. Repeat until the mark has gone.
  4. Wash your garment as normal according to the clothing care label but don’t exceed a 40°C wash.

3. washing up liquid.

smol washing up liquid
  1. Grab a bowl of warm water and add some washing up liquid. Stir. 
  2. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and wring it out.
  3. Wipe the stained area. Don’t rub too hard… it’s much better to blot.
  4. Wash your garment as normal according to the clothing care label but don’t exceed a 40°C wash.

      removing water-based ink stains.

      These water-based inks (most rollerball pens, fountain pens and gel pens) are going to be easier to remove as they should dissolve in water. 

      1. stain gel.

      smol stain gel
      1. Rinse the reverse side of the stain under cold running water for 1 minute.
      2. Apply smol stain gel directly to the stain and gently pat into the fabric.
      3. Leave the stain gel to act for 5 minutes.
      4. Wash your clothing as usual according to care label instructions. 

        2. laundry detergent.

        1. Rinse the reverse side of the stain under warm running water for 1 minute.
        2. Add a few drops of smol laundry detergent to the stain on both sides. 
        3. Gently rub the detergent until it foams.
        4. Rinse the stain under cold running water and wash as usual if you need to.  

          a note on drying.

          smol capsules with washing line in background

           When it comes to drying your clothing after you’ve removed all traces of your ink stains, hanging outside on the laundry line is always our recommended way to dry. 

          HOWEVER, for various reasons that’s not always possible so check out our blog on how to dry indoors without using a tumble dryer if you’re keen to save money and carbon. 

          And if you are using a tumble dryer ALWAYS check the stain is gone first. You don’t want to dry your clothing if the ink stain is still present as it will set the stain in more completely and make removal even more difficult. 

          a note on dry-clean only items.

          If your laundry label states your ink-stained piece of clothing can only be dry-cleaned then it’s probably best to leave it to the professionals.  

          GET STAIN GEL

          want to know more about removing stubborn stains from fabrics? 

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