How to Get Ink Out After Washing a Garment

by Nate Combs ; Updated September 28, 2017

Stains are unpleasant and often very noticeable.

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When ink gets on clothing, the natural human reaction is to quickly wash the stain or the entire garment in an attempt to lessen the damage. However, doing this almost always ends up making the stain worse because many types of ink spread when they become wet. Still, following the proper procedures can significantly lessen or even completely remove the stain, depending on what type of ink you are dealing with. Water-based ink stains are the simplest to remove, followed by ballpoint ink stains. Permanent ink stains can be difficult or impossible to remove completely.

Water-based Inks

Place a small amount of heavy-duty detergent on the stain to prepare it for treatment.

Place your old towel under the fabric. If your garment has multiple layers, place the towel under the stained layer to prevent the ink from transferring to the other layer or layers. For example, if a stained shirt does not have buttons, you can place the towel between the front and back sides.

Fill the spray bottle with warm water and lightly spray the stain. The stain will transfer to the towel.

Use the wash cloth to gently dab the stain until it is out of the garment, then rinse the material thoroughly with warm water.

Ballpoint Ink

Mix together a solution of ammonia and hydrogen peroxide in a small cup or container. The solution should contain an equal portion of each.

Place the affected material on your towel and spray or blot the area surrounding the stain with the solution. This will create a boundary the stain cannot leak past.

Apply your clothing-safe cleaning solvent or rubbing alcohol to the entire stain. If the stain is not removed in one attempt, repeat the process.

Replace the rubbing alcohol or cleaning solvent with nail polish remover if the stain has had time to settle or if you have to repeat the process a third time.

Rinse the garment thoroughly with warm water.

Permanent Ink

Place towel directly under the affected garment and contain the area of the stain with the ammonia and hydrogen peroxide solution, if desired. Permanent stains do not leak as strongly as other stains because their inks are designed to stay in one spot.

Dip your wash cloth in the rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. Use a second wash cloth to dry the stain.

Repeat the process until the stain is as light as possible. If the fabric is white, you can use liquid bleach to soak the entire garment and restore the material.

Use a small amount of nail polish remover instead of rubbing alcohol to lightly dampen, but not saturate, the stain if the alcohol alone does not remove it.

Rinse the fabric thoroughly and dry it with your cloths.


  • For extremely tough stains, use the a diluted solution of the all-fabric bleach to soak your clothing for about 10 minutes.

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About the Author

Nate Combs writes in both English and Spanish, obtained a real-estate license and is a certified translator. He has worked as a professional in music and production for more than five years and is an expert at adventure, role-playing, fighting, action and many other types of video games. Combs holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from University of Central Florida.