How to Remove Ink Stains


Ink stains happen, but they don't have to be permanent. Learn how to safely remove ink stains from any material.
Ink stains happen, but they don't have to be permanent. Learn how to safely remove ink stains from any material.
iStockphoto.com/Martin Koch

Have you been the victim of an ink stain? Try not to explode along with your pen. The written word may live on forever, but an ink stain doesn't have to be permanent.­ Use these cleaning methods so you can experience a better ending.

The first step in removing an ink stain is to identify the type of material or surface that is stained. Then use the following tips for optimal ink stain removal.

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Below are the most common types of materials that can become ink-stained, with steps on how to remove ink from each:

­For more details and information, see the next page on removing ink stains from non-washable fibers.

©Publications International, Ltd.

Non-washable Fibers

Follow these steps to remove ink stains from Acetate, Burlap, Carpet/­Synthetic, Carpet/Wool, Fiberglass, Rayon, Silk, Triacetate, or Wool:

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  • Sponge (the method of using light strokes with a dampened pad working outward from the center of the stain) the stain with water.
  • Try a light spray of hair spray to loosen the stain, then apply a wet spotter and a few drops of white vinegar.
  • Let stand for 30 minutes, blotting every 5 mi­nutes with a clean absorbent pad. Add wet spotter and vinegar as needed to keep the stain moist.
  • Flush (the method of applying stain remover to loosen staining materials and residue from stain removers) with water.
  • If the stain persists, apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and cover with an absorbent pad moistened with alcohol. Let it stand as long as any stain is being removed. Change the pad as it picks up the stain. Flush with alcohol. (Do not use alcohol on acetate, rayon, or triacetate.)
  • If stain traces remain, sponge area with water and apply a wet spotter and a few drops of ammonia. Let stand for 30 minutes, blotting every 5 minutes. Add enough wet spotter and ammonia (do not use ammonia on silk or wool) to keep the stain moist. Flush with water and allow to dry. ­

Washable Fibers

­Use the following steps to remove ink stains from Acrylic Fabric, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester or Spandex:­

  • Try a light spray of hair spray to loosen the laundry stains.
  • Soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar for 30 minutes; use care when using vinegar on cotton and linen.
  • Rinse with water and allow to dry.
  • If stain persists, apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and cover with an absorbent pad moistened with alcohol (use alcohol sparingly on acrylic and modacrylic). Let stand as long as any stain is being removed. Change pad as it picks up the stain. Keep both the stain and pad moist with alcohol. Flush with alcohol and allow to dry.
  • If any trace of stain remains, soak in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon ammonia for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to dry. ­ ­

Soft Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove ink stains from Acrylic Plastic, Ceramic, Glass/Tile, Cork, Glass, Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Porcelain Dishes, Porcelain Fixtures, Vinyl Clothing or Vinyl Wallcoverings:

  • Apply an all-purpose spray cleaner, following label directions.
  • If any trace of stain remains, cover area with a compress sprinkled with ammonia.
  • Rinse well and wash with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse again and allow to dry.

Alabaster or Marble

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Follow theses steps to remove ink stains from Alabaster or Marble:

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  • ­Wipe the surface with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  •  Rinse well and wipe dry.
  • If any trace of stain persists, apply an absorbent pad dampened with rubbing alcohol.
  • After several minutes, replace the pad with one moistened with ammonia.
  • Continue alternating alcohol and ammonia treatment until stain is removed.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

Stone Surfaces

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Use the following steps to remove ink stains from­ Asphalt, Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Sandstone, Slate or Terrazzo surfaces:

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  • Wash with a solution of washing soda or detergent (not soap) and water.
  • Use a cloth or soft-bristled brush to help scrub.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clear water and allow to dry.

Bamboo, Cane or Painted Surfaces

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Follow these simple steps to remove ink stains from Bamboo, Cane, Paint/Flat or ­Paint/Gloss:

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  • Wipe with a cloth dipped in a solution of mild pure soap and water to which a few drops of ammonia have been added.
  • Rinse well and dry thoroughly.

Grout

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Follow these simple steps to remove ink stains from grout:

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  • Wipe stain with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • If a stain remains, dip a wet toothbrush into a litle baking soda or powdered cleanser and gently scrub.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry.

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Leather or Suede

Ink stains on leather or suede may be permanent, but try the following steps before you throw out the item! Caution: There is no guaranteed way to remove this stain from these materials.

  • On leather, apply a cleaner, such as Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner.
  • On suede, try gingerly applying a dry-cleaning solvent. Dab it on with a clean cloth, after testing on a hidden seam.
  • Allow to air dry.
  • On leather only, follow with Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner or Fiebing's Saddle Soap to condition the leather. 

Linoleum, Vinyl Tile

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Follow these steps to remove ink stains from linoleum or vinyl tile surfaces:

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  • ­First, apply an all-purpose spray cleaner according to package directions.
  • If any stain remains, cover the area with a compress made with rubbing alcohol.
  • Rinse with clear water.
  • If stain persists, rub the area with superfine (number 0000) steel wool dipped in liquid floor wax.
  • Wash the area with soapy water, dry, then wax as usual.

Wallpaper

Follow these steps to remove ink stains from wallpaper:

  • Try removing any ink with a soft eraser. Work in small movements to avoid tearing the paper.
  • If the stain persists, wipe the area with a cloth or sponge moistened with cool clear water. Overlap the strokes to avoid streaking.
  • Use a clean cloth to gently pat dry.

Wood

Use the following steps to remove ink stains from wood:

  • Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds.
  • Dip a cloth in only the foam and gently wipe the stain.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth moistened with clear water.
  • If a stain remains, rub the area with superfine (number 0000) steel wool dipped in liquid wax. Rub lightly, because steel wool will remove a fine layer of the surface.
  • Polish or wax as soon as possible.

See all stain removal articles.

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