How to Remove Ink Stains

Close-up of man in blue button down shirt with pen in breast pocket leaking spot of black ink.

Even in a digital world, ink stains can happen. Whether you forgot to remove a pen from a jacket or pants pocket before sending it through the wash, or a pen leaked while in your pocket, ink stains can seem like a bear to remove.

But with these tips from Molly Maid, removing ink stains can be a snap.

How to Remove Ink Stains From Clothes, Carpet and Your Hands

There are a number of common household products that will work to remove ink stains, including rubbing alcohol, salt, cornstarch, hair spray and nail polish remover. Find out how to use each method below:

Rubbing Alcohol

As soon as you notice the spot of ink, blot the area with rubbing alcohol to loosen the ink from the fibers. This should set you up for success. Pretreat the area with your favorite stain remover, covering the stain completely. Wash using the hottest water recommended for the garment. Before drying, make sure to check to see if the entire stain has been removed. If there is any part of the stain left, repeat the process until the stain has been fully removed.


If an ink stain on your shirt is still wet, pour salt on it, covering it completely. Dab the area with a damp paper towel before brushing off the remaining salt.


An ink stain on the carpet may seem like a disaster, but a little cornstarch can go a long way! Mix cornstarch with milk, making a paste. Apply the mixture directly to the stain and allow it to dry. Brush off the dried mixture before vacuuming up any remaining cornstarch.

Hair Spray

If you have a lighter ink stain on your clothes or furniture, you can spray hair spray directly onto the stain. Gently blot the stain until it comes off!

Nail Polish Remover

Did you know that nail polish remover will remove more than just nail polish? If you have ink stains on your hands (that didn’t come off with soap and water), apply some nail polish remover to a cotton ball and gently wipe the ink off your hands. As soon as the ink stains are gone, wash your hands with soap and water. You can also use nail polish remover to remove ink stains from the drum of your dryer!

Let Molly Maid Help

Feel like there is always another cleaning task to tackle? Leave the everyday cleaning to Molly Maid so you can focus on other things with our regular cleaning service. Give us a call or request a free estimate online to get started.