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How to Remove Ink Stains: 12 Household Solutions

Use these simple, trusted at-home tips to handle ink stain removal.


Wondering how 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.

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Morton Iodized Salt, 26 ozVia


You can figure out how to get ink out of clothes by going no further than your kitchen. 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. Find out how to remove blood stains using things you have in your pantry, too.

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Frontier Cream of Tartar, 3.52 Ounce BottleVia

Cream of tartar

Pen burst on your shirt before that big meeting? Here’s how to remove ink stains your boss wouldn’t approve of: 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 three to four hours, then brush off the paste and wash the shirt.

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Argo Corn Starch 16 oz. Box (Pack of 4)Via


Ink on the carpet! In this case, a little spilt milk might save you from crying. This is how to remove ink stains with cornstarch and milk: Mix both ingredients 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. Check out these other homemade carpet cleaners you have in your house already.

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Kenra Volume Spray #25, 55% VOC, 10-Ounce Via

Hair spray

Your toddler just went wild with a ballpoint pen on your new white coat. Here’s how to get ink out of clothes with some hair care products: Squirt the stain with hair spray and the pen marks should come right off.

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Sally Hansen Nail Polish Remover, Strengthening - 8 ozVia

Nail polish remover

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. Apply some to a cotton ball and wipe the affected areas with the solution. Once the ink stains are gone, wash the skin with soap and water. Nail polish remover can also eliminate ink stains on the drum of your clothes dryer. Check out these other cleaning hacks you’ll want to steal from professional house cleaners.

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Crest 3D White Whitening Toothpaste, Radiant Mint, 3.5 oz, Pack of 2Via


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 removing lipstick.

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365 Everyday Value, Organic Butter Salted, 1 lb Via


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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Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99 percent, Pint, 16 OZ (Pack of 2) Via

Rubbing alcohol

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. Don’t miss these 10 laundry mistakes you didn’t know you were making.

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White House White Distilled Vinegar 64oz (64 oz)Via


Treat an ink stain on a shirt by first wetting it with some white vinegar, then rubbing in a paste of two parts vinegar to three parts cornstarch. Let the paste thoroughly dry before washing the item. These are the 10 cleaning myths you need to stop believing.

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120 To 3000 Assorted Grit Sandpaper for Wood Furniture Finishing, Metal Sanding and Automotive Polishing, Dry or Wet Sanding, 9 x 3.6 Inch, 36-SheetVia


Do you know how to get ink out of clothes using this simple tool found in a workshop? A little fine-grit sandpaper and a gentle touch are great for removing (or at least minimizing) an ink stain or small scuff mark on suede clothing or shoes. Afterward, buff gently with a toothbrush or nailbrush. You might avoid an expensive trip to the dry cleaner.

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Crisco All Vegetable Shortening-16 OZ Via


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. Whatever you do, be sure to avoid these 10 cleaning mistakes that are actually making your home dirtier.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest