Imagine finding out that you ruined an expensive white shirt, all because of your stupid habit of carrying pens in the pocket! Even the slightest negligence like trusting your little ones with a fountain pen or an accidental ink spill on your favorite table cloth can cost you a lot! So, what’s done is done! It’s time to learn how to remove ink stains from clothes using simple, DIY methods.

But before that, we have a great tip for you! Fresh stains are always easy to remove than post-wash or dry cleaning. Taking immediate action can be a savior for your pockets (quite literally!). Depending on whether the ink is water-based or oil-based, you can try one of these procedures.

5 Easy Ways To Remove Ball Pen Ink Stains on Shirts and Jeans:

If you are wondering how to remove ink marks and pen stains from your jeans, shirt or other clothes, check out these stain removal processes, with detailed steps:

1. Nail Polish Remover: Does Nail Polish Remover Get Ink Out of Clothes

Most nail polish removers contain a solvent called Acetone. This is very effective in removing ballpoint ink marks from clothes, without damaging the fabric. Although industrial acetone can give you quick results, it is quite potent and harmful to you. So, it is better to go for a beauty brand available in the market.

Follow these steps to remove ink stains from shirts and dresses, using a nail polish remover:

Things You Will Need:

  • Nail Polish Remover – Few Drops.
  • Clean Towel – 1.
  • Cotton Ball – 1.


  1. Spread the stained fabric over a clean towel or fabric, which doesn’t run colours.
  2. Pour a few drops of nail polish remover on the affected area.
  3. Use a cotton ball and press it firmly against the stain.
  4. If the cotton is covered with ink, throw it and use a fresh one.
  5. Repeat the dabs until the mark is entirely dissolved and DO NOT RUB the fabric.
  6. Once you are sure of the mark removal, wash the fabric with laundry detergent and dry it under direct sunlight

Works For: Ball Point and Fountain Pen Ink.

2. Rubbing Alcohol for Ink Stains:

Rubbing Alchohol can remove even stubborn ink stains on clothes, as it is a degreasing agent. That means, it can easily dissolve and break down the components that cause fabric marks. You can either use a pure form of this ingredient or products that contain a minimum 10% alcohol like hair sprays or deodorants.

Let us learn how to use rubbing alcohol to clean pen marks from jeans and other clothes:

Things You Will Need:

  • Rubbing Alchohol – Few Drops (Depending on the area of stain).
  • Ink Dropper – 1.
  • Paper towel or Sponge.
  • Laundry Detergent.


  1. Take a clean ink dropper to carry a few drops of alcohol.
  2. Spread the affected fabric on a paper towel or sponge for stain absorption.
  3. Now press the dropper to release alcohol drop by drop.
  4. If it is a large area, use a bowl of alcohol to immerse the area.
  5. Soak for 15 minutes.
  6. Blot the stain using a sponge or tissue till it vanishes.
  7. Once you are sure, wash the fabric using a detergent in warm water.
  8. Dry it under sunlight or in a dryer.

Works For: Felt Tip Inks, Fountain Pen Ink and Ball Point Inks. Also effective in removing wine stains, food colours, Lipstick and makeup marks, Curry stains etc.,

3. Vinegar: Does Vinegar Remove Ink Stains

Another simple household solution for removing ink stains on white clothes and fabrics is Vinegar. The reason? Its high acidic content that can dissolve the ink and other components which cause fabric marks. While Vinegar itself is sufficient, adding milk or baking soda can increase its efficacy and give you faster results. Here’s how to use White Vinegar to remove pen stains from cotton clothes.

Things You Will Need:

  • Vinegar – 1 parts.
  • Milk – 2 Part.
  • Bowl.


  1. In a bowl, add milk and vinegar in the mentioned ratio.
  2. Soak the stained area in the bowl.
  3. Leave it overnight for best results.
  4. The next morning, rub gently to remove any traces of ink.
  5. Wash as normal with warm water and hang dry.

Works for: Ballpoint ink stains, Fountain ink marks and other stains like rust, yellow perspiration stains etc.,

See More: How to Clean Rust from Steel

4. Hydrogen Peroxide Ink Stain Removal:

Another easily available ink removal agent is Hydrogen Peroxide. It is a bleaching agent, which dissolves the coloured (stained) area and makes it vanish. However, it doesn’t work well in temperatures below 40 Degree C. So, you must use warm water for the results to show quickly. You can either use a pure form of Hydrogen peroxide or products that contain this agent, as a key ingredient.

Things You Will Need:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide – Few Drops.
  • Warm Water (Equal to or above 40 Deg C).
  • Soft brush.


  1. Take a bowl of warm water and soak the stained fabric.
  2. Now pour a few drops of hydrogen peroxide on the affected area.
  3. Leave it for 30 minutes.
  4. Use a soft toothbrush in circular movements on the stain.
  5. Do NOT use rigorous movements, as it can damage the fabric.
  6. Once you notice a visible difference, rinse it in warm water again.
  7. Repeat if necessary.

Works For: Removes ink stains on jeans and tough fabrics, blood stains and colour leaks.

5. Hand Sanitizer to Remove Ink from Fabrics:

Many people have claimed that Sanitizer is the best product to remove ink stains from clothes. However, not any Sanitizer will do! You must pick an alcohol-based product to loosen the stain-causing agents from the fabric. Once this is done, you can use a pre-wash stain remover for a better success rate! But before that, make sure that the fabric passes the colourfast test to prevent any colour leaks.

Things You Need:

  • Alcohol Containing Sanitizer.
  • Hot Water.
  • Pre-wash Stain Remover.
  • Detergent.


  1. Apply a generous amount of Sanitizer to the stained area.
  2. Leave it for 30 minutes.
  3. Use a prewash stain remover in hot water and soak the fabric for some time.
  4. Rinse the fabric and use a detergent to wash normally.
  5. If you see that the stain is gone, then air dry.
  6. Else, repeat the steps.

Works For: Fountain Pen inks, Food spills, blood stains and makeup stains.

Now that you have learnt how to remove different types of ink stains from clothes, you can try and see the results yourself! But before that, you must understand that each fabric responds differently to these ingredients. To prevent damage or tears, we recommend testing them on a small area to determine safety. Also, do not expect 100% effective stain removing results in one shot, as it largely depends on the density of stain, age and the type of material.


About Keerthi

Keerthi is a freelance content writer with over 5 years of professional writing experience and holds a Master’s Degree in English Literature from EFLU, Hyderabad. Though she comes from a technology background, her zeal for writing motivated her to pursue a career in the content industry. Keerthi is well-versed with writing SEO-friendly copies, along with taking part in content strategy and research in trending topics of a variety of niches. She is a mom of two and thoroughly enjoys the balancing act of work and home!