How to Remove Roller Ball Ink From Clothes

by Siva Stephens ; Updated September 28, 2017

Remove ink stains from clothing.

ink stain image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

It is extremely frustrating to find that a leaky pen has stained your clothing, yet it’s an accident that will happen to most of us sooner or later. We may be tempted to throw the item away, or at least tear it up for cleaning rags, but there are several things to try first to remove the stain from your clothes.

Put the stained section of the garment into the bowl. Pour in enough milk to cover the stain and swish the fabric through the liquid. When the milk becomes inky, change it. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Spray hairspray directly onto the ink stain. Rinse the spot with cool water. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Stretch the fabric containing the stain over a folded-up rag. Soak a section of another rag with the solvent you’ve chosen (alcohol, acetone, vodka or turpentine). Blot the stain with the soaked rag. Exchange the rags for fresh ones as the ink transfers itself to them. Rinse the stain with cool water when you exchange the rags. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Apply liquid laundry detergent to the back of the stain and rinse under cool running water. If ink remains, mix a solution of equal parts household ammonia, lemon juice and water. Soak a rag in the solution and dab it on the stain, rinsing well between applications. Repeat until the stain is gone.

Once the ink has been entirely removed, launder the garment as usual in the hottest water appropriate for the fabric.


  • As a last resort, try taking the stained item to your dry-cleaner. They may not be able to guarantee the result but they can often remove a stain that you haven’t been able to budge.

    Check the garment’s attached care label for any special instructions.

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About the Author

Siva Stephens has been a writer since she could hold a pencil. She has written newspaper articles, medical manuals, advertising copy and gags for cartoonists. Stephens has been publishing online since 2004, most recently as a contributing author for the Oregon Encyclopedia Project.