How to Remove Ink Stains: 12 Household Solutions

Simple at-home tips to deal with ink stain removal.

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Ink on the carpet! In this case a little spilt milk might save you from crying. Mix the milk with cornstarch to make a paste, and apply the paste to the ink stain to remove it. Allow the concoction to dry on the carpet for a few hours, then brush off the dried residue and vacuum it up.


To remove ink stains from colored clothes, an overnight milk bath will often do the trick. Just soak the affected garment in milk overnight and launder as usual the next day.


Pour salt on an ink stain that’s still wet, gently dab with a wet paper towel, and then remove and brush off the salt. Repeat until the stain has completely lifted. 

Cream of Tartar

Cream of TartariStock/Thinkstock
Pen burst on your shirt? Make a paste by mixing 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Cover the ink stain with the paste for 3 to 4 hours, then brush off the paste and wash the shirt.

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Hair Spray

Hair SprayiStock/Thinkstock
Your toddler just went wild with a ballpoint pen on your new white coat. Squirt the stain with hair spray and the pen marks should come right off.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail Polish RemoverHemera/Thinkstock
If the ink stains on your skin won’t come off with soap and water, they are probably not water-soluble. Try using nail polish remover instead. Take a cotton ball and wipe the affected areas with the solution. Once the ink stains are gone, wash skin with soap and water. Nail polish remover can also eliminate ink stains on the drum of your clothes dryer.


This may or may not work, depending on the fabric and the ink, but put non-gel toothpaste on the stain and rub the fabric vigorously together. Rinse with water. Were you able to remove some of the ink? Great! Repeat the process a few more times until you get rid of all the ink. Note: The same process works for lipstick.


One of the kids use a pen to draw a new smile on that favorite doll’s face? Try eliminating the kiddie graffiti by rubbing butter on it and leaving the doll face-up in the sun for a few days. Wash it off with soap and water.

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Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholiStock/Thinkstock
Did you get ink on your favorite shirt or dress? Try soaking the spot in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes to remove the ink, before putting the garment in the wash.


Treat an ink stain on a shirt by first wetting it with some white vinegar, then rub in a paste of 2 parts vinegar to 3 parts cornstarch. Let the paste thoroughly dry before washing the item.


A little fine-grit sandpaper and a gentle touch is great for removing or at least minimizing an ink stain or small scuff mark on suede clothing or shoes. Afterward, bring up the nap with a toothbrush or nailbrush. You might avoid an expensive trip to the dry cleaner.


Next time a leaky pen leaves your hands full of ink, reach for a can of shortening. To remove ink stains from your hands and also from vinyl surfaces, rub on a dollop of shortening and wipe the stains away with a rag or paper towel.

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