No products found.

How to Get Ink Out of a Shirt

Have you ever ended up with an unsightly ink stain on your shirt pocket, after a pen mishap? Then you know how frustrating and hopeless the feeling is when it comes to removing the ink stain out of your favorite shirt.

Thankfully, ink can be removed fairly easily, not only from your shirt but also from all kinds of clothing, fabrics, upholstery, and carpeting. And the even better news is that in most cases, you can do it efficiently and safely with simple household products and detergent you already probably own.

Important note before you proceed with the ink stain cleaning!

The first thing you need to know is not to attempt to just rub it off, launder it, and tumble dry it, because this is more likely to make the stain permanent and difficult or even impossible to remove.

Also, the faster you act – the more manageable the stain removal will be, so if possible, do not let the stain dry.

Plus, before using any kind of detergent or household stain removal product, always test how it reacts with the fabric on a small and hidden spot on the garment.

Last but not least, after the stain removal and rinsing, allow the shirt to line-dry and inspect it closely before washing and tumble drying it.

In other words, do not panic and act hectically.

Read on to find out how to get ink out of your shirt or any other piece of fabric, without ruining it.

Try to determine what type of ink has stained your shirt

You may not have realized it, but there are different types of ink. It is essential to determine the type of ink which has stained your shirt to take the necessary actions to remove it properly. Here are the most common types of ink:

Oil-based ink

This is the type of ink used for ballpoint pens. It dries very quickly, which makes it a bit more challenging to remove.

Water-based ink

This is the ink used for rollerball and fountain pens, as well as for gel pens or washable markers.

Alcohol-based ink

If you have got this type of ink on your shirt, then be prepared for a more trying stain removal experience. It is the type of ink used for permanent markers and is one of the hardest to remove from fabric.

Getting the ink out in accordance with the ink type

Removing oil-based ink stains

Oil-based ink can be removed from most types of fabric with some rubbing alcohol (ethanol). Ethanol is also found in many types of hand sanitizers or even in aerosol hairsprays.

In order to get the oil-based ink stain out, lay the shirt on top of a clean cloth or towel, but make sure that it is in between the shirt layers. This will prevent the stain from transfering to another part of the shirt in the process of cleaning.

Apply the rubbing alcohol or other ethanol-based product gently by dabbing on it and saturating the stain, but without rubbing it or scrubbing it to avoid making the stain even bigger.

Blot the stain with a clean white cloth and press it gently over the cloth you have placed underneath the shirt.

Continue doing so until you see the ink transferring to the cloth you are holding, and to the one you have laid the shirt on top of. The idea is to “move” the stain from the shirt to the old rug or towel.

As soon as the stain is gone, you can apply a few drops of detergents on top of the stain, and then wash it by hand or in your washing machine, as you would usually do.

Removing water-based ink stains

There is a simple hack for removing water-based oil stains from most garments, which involves the use of milk.

The stain removal process is pretty simple too.

Fill a bowl with some milk and then submerge the stained part of the shirt in it. Allow it to soak for an hour. Then use an old toothbrush to scrub the stain and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.

After you are done, apply a few drops of detergent on top of the stain and then let it sit for another hour before proceeding to wash the shirt as you would usually do.

If you can still see telltale signs of the stain after laundering the shirt, do not dry it. Simply apply the same steps with the milk, the gentle scrubbing, and the detergent once more for permanent removal.

Removing alcohol-based ink stains

Removing permanent ink may seem like an impossible task, but don’t lose hope because, with the proper steps, you may be able to remove it completely from your favorite shirt.

Try using the same steps as recommended for the removal of oil-based ink stains. In other words, lay the stained part of the shirt on top of a clean old rug or towel and use another white cloth to blot the stain with ethanol. Continue dabbing it, without rubbing it around until the ink stops transferring from the shirt to the cloth underneath and the cloth in your hand.

If the stain is stubborn, you can try using an OxiClean Max Force Gel Stain Remover Stick or another efficient ink removal product.

When the stain is gone, apply detergent straight on top of it, and then proceed to wash the shirt as you normally would.

What if the ink stain has already dried?

If you have missed an ink stain and have already washed and tumble dried your shirt, there is still a good chance that you will be able to remove the stain. Try soaking it with rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer with alcohol for 5-10 minutes, and then launder the shirt on your highest temperature laundry setting with half a cup of color-safe bleach, and then wait and see. Hopefully, the stain will be gone after you are done.

How to remove ink stains from different garments

Apart from the type of ink, it is important to keep in mind the type of fabric that is stained. Some textiles are more resilient and easy to treat than others. Here are some specific tips on removing ink stains from different fabric types:


If your stained shirt is made of washable linen, then you can try using rubbing alcohol to try removing the stain. It is always a good idea to spot test any detergent or product you will be using on a small hidden part of the fabric to see if it reacts to it.

Blot the stain carefully, or pour the rubbing alcohol through it to a cloth underneath the shirt to remove the ink. After that, rinse it off, and let the shirt dry on the line. If the stain is removed, you can proceed to launder the shirt as usual.


The faster you act when you get an ink stain on your wool garment, the bigger the chances are of getting it off completely. Start by blotting the wet stain with a paper towel, but without rubbing it in or spreading it around the fabric. Then use a clean white cloth to blot the stain with cold water until it is lifted from the shirt and onto the cloth. If this doesn’t work, then you can spray it with aerosol hairspray and continue blotting it. If this too doesn’t do the job, try to scrub the remaining stain off gently with an old toothbrush dipped in 50-50 water and white vinegar solution.


Use rubbing alcohol to blot the stain or directly drip it over the stain on top of an open jar or a clean cloth. Rinse it off with warm water, and let the shirt dry before proceeding to wash it and tumble dry it.


Test the rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous spot on the shirt to see if there is any negative reaction. If everything is OK, then you can proceed to blot the spot with a clean rug or towel and ethanol. Do it until the stain is “moved” to the cloth, and then rinse it off. Allow it to dry and inspect the shirt before proceeding to wash it according to the instructions.


If your cotton shirt has an ink stain, then try soaking the stained part in a bowl filled with lukewarm water, with a ½ teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and a tablespoon of white vinegar. Let it soak for 30 minutes, and then rinse it off and let it dry. If the stain is still there, dab it with a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol until it is transferred from the shirt to the cloth.


Place the stain on top of an open jar, and drip ethanol slowly through it. When it is gone, rinse it off, and proceed to wash the shirt as you usually would do.

Spandex or Lycra

With a spandex or Lycra garment, the procedure is the same as with nylon, but remember to test the rubbing alcohol on a hidden small spot first to see if the fabric reacts to it. If there seems to be no problem, go ahead and dab it with rubbing alcohol and a clean white cloth, or try dripping the alcohol through it, until the stain disappears.


Being a natural product, leather is prone to permanent damage if treated with the wrong type of detergent or product. If you stain leather with ink, then use a specialized leather cleaner or ink cleaner like Amodex Ink Remover as soon as possible and then follow the instructions by the manufacturer of the cleaning product.


Does your beautiful silk shirt have an ink stain? Try blotting the stain gently with clean paper towels as soon as possible, but without rubbing or pressing too hard.

If the stain persists, then spray it with aerosol hairspray and then blot the stain with a clean white cloth until it transfers to it completely. After that, blot the stained area with a cloth dampened in warm water. Another way to do it is to gently scrub the stained area with a toothbrush dipped in an even water and white vinegar solution, and then dab it up with a cloth and some cold water followed by paper towels until it dries.


You need to be careful with suede, so use a dry cleaning product like the Stanley Home Products Aqua Clean and apply it with a clean cloth gently and sparingly and follow the instructions of the manufacturer of the detergent.

To remove a ballpoint pen stain from suede, test in a hidden area with a dab of consumer dry-cleaning solvent with a clean cloth, and then apply sparingly on the stain, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Bryan Jenkins
Latest posts by Bryan Jenkins (see all)

Last update on 2021-01-07 at 00:04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *