How to Remove Ink Stains From Different Materials

Updated October 22, 2019
Businessman with an ink stained shirt

Don't let exploding pens cause you to erupt into a pit of anger and frustration. Fortunately, removing ink stains from your favorite clothes and surfaces isn't as hard as you might think. With a little patience and some elbow grease, you can make use of simple and effective home remedies to remove ink stains from clothes, carpet and even walls. You can even remove Sharpie from plastic.

Instructions to Remove Ink Stains From Fabrics

Ink stains do not discriminate. Rather, they target all types of fabrics, from cotton to wool, polyester and suede. The key to removing these ugly blots is to act quickly. The faster you treat an ink stain, the better the chances of it being completely erased. The following cleaning tips will help you remove ink stains from different fabrics.


The next time a pen leaks on your wool blanket follow these simple steps:

  1. Moisten a clean sponge or cloth and dab at the wet stain.
  2. Add a few drops of white vinegar to the stain and work outward from the center of the stain.
  3. If the stain persists, add a few squirts of hair spray and allow to sit for 30 minutes, blotting every five minutes or so with a moistened sponge.
  4. When 30 minutes has elapsed, lightly rinse the affected area with clean water, and then allow to dry.


Polyester is a durable fabric that can withstand vigorous elbow grease. However, you should still be mindful when applying this ink stain removal technique:

  1. Apply a liberal amount of hair spray on ink to loosen stain.
  2. Mix together a solution of one-quart warm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dishwashing detergent (such as Dawn), and 1 tablespoon white vinegar.
  3. Soak stained fabric in solution for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove and rinse garment with clean water, then launder per usual.


Typically, ink and suede translate into a recipe for disaster. However, if you are able to treat the stain immediately, then you might be able to salvage your suede item.

  1. Apply dry-cleaning solvent to the stain and gingerly dab at it with a clean cloth.
  2. If the stain does not lift, use fine grain sandpaper, and very lightly buff the stain.
  3. Dip an old toothbrush in white vinegar and gently scrub the stain.
  4. Allow the area to dry completely.
  5. Use a suede brush to roughen up the nap.


Ink stains are never a pleasure to deal with. However, if your pen is going to break on any type of fabric, let it be cotton. There are a number of commercial cleaners that effectively remove ink stains from clothing. These steps show you how it's done:

  1. Add one cup of your product, such as Biz Stain Fighter, to two gallons of water and bring it to a boil in a large stainless-steel pot.
  2. When the Biz has completely dissolved, add the ink stained garment to the simmering pot.
  3. Stir the pot so that the stain is completely saturated by the Biz mixture.
  4. Remove and launder per normal.

How to Remove Ink From Carpet

If your carpet is made from synthetic fibers, then you might find success applying these steps to remove ink stains from carpet:

  1. Mix corn starch with milk to make a paste.
  2. Apply the paste on the ink stain and let it dry
  3. Wait 30 minutes and then vacuum up the dried paste.
  4. If the stain persists, repeat the process.

Sure-Fire Way to Remove Sharpie From Plastic

Did your son use a Sharpie on your daughter's favorite doll? Sharpie on your outdoor furniture or plastic dolls doesn't mean they are destined for the trash. Remove Sharpie, or other permanent marker stains, from plastic by trying a few simple methods.

Baking Soda and Toothpaste

This method works particularly well on smooth plastic surfaces like outdoor plastic chairs.

  1. In a small dish, you'll want to mix about a tbsp of baking soda with a tbsp of toothpaste.
  2. Using a rag, apply it to the sharpie and let it sit for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Using a clean part of the cloth, dampen and slowly rub the stain in a circular motion.
  4. Continue until the stain is gone.

Dry Erase Marker

Did someone take a Sharpie to your dry erase board? Not to worry, you can remove these stains, too. Dry erase markers have a solvent that can work to break the Sharpie down.

  1. Using a dry erase marker, completely color over the sharpie.
  2. Take a clean cloth and wipe the Sharpie line away.
  3. Repeat as needed.

Remove Sharpie and Ink Stains From Walls

Despite your most watchful eye, marker on the walls is inevitable. Don't panic. Just grab an eraser pad. You might opt for a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or an off-brand.

  1. Before you begin, wet the pad and test it on a small area of paint that is hidden. This way, you know if it will strip your color before you tackle that big obvious stain.
  2. Dip the pad in a little bit of water. You want it damp, not saturated.
  3. Using circular motions slowly remove the marker. Remember to use light pressure so as not to remove the paint.
Child drawing on the wall with markers

Get Ink Off Wood

Ink on your wood? All hope is not lost. You're going to need a bit of rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth. The cloth will stain, so be aware of that.

  1. Pour some rubbing alcohol into a bowl or cup.
  2. Dip the rag into the alcohol to saturate it.
  3. Use circular motions to scrub the sharpie.
  4. Continue until all the ink or Sharpie mark is gone.

Pro tip: Eraser pads and alcohol can work on plastic too.

Cleaning Tips

The most effective means of removing ink from any type of material is to treat it as quickly as possible. You want don't want the ink to absorb into the material. If you are prone to ink stains, then consider toting a product, like Tide to Go Instant Stain Remover pen, with you. Otherwise, be prepared to experiment with a variety of ink stain removal remedies.

Got Inked: No Problem

While ink stains are a pain in the keister, they aren't the end of the world. They aren't even the end of your clothing or floor. With the right tools and mindset, you can remove any ink stain. Just remember persistence is key.

How to Remove Ink Stains From Different Materials