How to Get Ink Out of Dried Clothes

by Melissa J. Bell

Bad news for the accident-prone office workers, artists, writers and everymen amongst us -- ink is one of the most difficult stains to remove from clothing once dried. Knock an inkwell into your lap, smudge an inkwash art piece with your sleeve, leave a pen in your pocket or handle a computer printout too soon and your clothing might as well be history -- or so you think. Although fresh ink stains lift more easily, you can still get your clothes looking good as new later, at the end of the day or even the week.

Wet a sponge with cold water and dab at the stain. Spritz a small amount of hairspray on the wet mark, and blot the front and back of the stain with a white paper towel. Treat the spot with a squirt of liquid stain remover, and launder the garment in a cold water wash cycle. Let the garment air dry.

Stretch the garment beneath a faucet and run cold water through it repeatedly if the stain remains after laundering. Make a paste of a powder detergent like borax and lemon juice, and rub it gently into the stain. Let the paste sit for 30 minutes, launder the garment in cold water and let it air dry.

Gently rub petroleum jelly into the remaining stain. Pour 1 teaspoon of liquid detergent onto the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes. Launder the garment in cold water.

Rub a small amount of liquid hand soap into the stain and rinse it under cold water.

Dab rubbing alcohol or nonacetone nail polish remover onto the stain. Blot the top and back sides of the stain with a white paper towel. Rinse under cold water with 1/4 cup of vinegar, and rinse again in plain cold water.

Blot at any remaining ink marks with a baby wipe, and machine wash the garment in cold water.

Spread foam shaving cream, which contains several types of alcohol, over the stain. Blot the stain with a white paper towel, and launder it in cold water and let it air dry.

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Items you will need

  • Sponge
  • Hairspray
  • White paper towels
  • Liquid stain remover
  • Liquid laundry detergent
  • Washing machine
  • Sink
  • Borax
  • Lemon juice
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Liquid hand soap
  • Rubbing alcohol or nonacetone nail polish remover
  • White vinegar
  • Baby wipes
  • Foam shaving cream


  • Treat the garment with hand sanitizer and blot the stain away on a white paper towel before air drying if the garment is dry-clean only,


  • Avoid heat-set stains at all costs. A hot water wash or dryer cycle will make ink stains permanent.


  • Clean It! Fix It! Eat It!; Joey Green
  • The Stain Book; Mike and Kate Jones
  • 2,001 Amazing Cleaning Secrets; Jeff Bredenberg

About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images