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Stain Series: How to Get Ink Out of Anything

It’s easy to freak out after getting ink on your favorite shirt (or coat or piece of furniture). But there’s no need to panic; it’s actually pretty easy to get most stains out. Here’s everything you need to know to make ink stains disappear. 

Note: Before applying any of the solutions below, be sure to test an inconspicuous spot on whatever it is you’re treating to be sure there isn’t a reaction.

On Clothing


Soak the spot in rubbing alcohol for a few minutes to remove the ink before putting the garment in the wash. It may need to be washed a couple of times, so check to see that the spot is gone before putting it in the dryer where the heat will set it permanently. If it’s something impossible to wash, squirt the stain with non-aerosol hair spray, and the marks should come right off. 


To remove ink stains from colored clothes, an overnight milk bath often does the trick. Immerse the affected garment in milk before bed and launder as usual the next day.


Treat an ink stain on a shirt by first wetting it with some white vinegar. Then rub in a paste of two parts vinegar to three parts cornstarch. Let the paste dry thoroughly before washing the item. 

On Wood

To remove permanent marker mishaps from wood furniture, try a melamine foam sponge. It’s a quick fix for most ink stains. 

On Leather

For ink stains on leather furniture and clothing, spray a soft cloth or paper towel with an aerosol lubricant and wipe the stain gently. Repeat several times until the ink is gone. 

On Walls

Bug spray removes stubborn ink stains from walls and other painted surfaces. 

On Tile and Concrete

For permanent marker stains on hard surfaces such as tile and concrete, use nail polish remover. Again, test a hidden area first, especially on treated tile (such as terrazzo), lest you harm the finish.

On An LCD Monitor

If you’ve accidentally managed to get permanent marker on an LCD or flat-panel monitor screen, try rubbing it carefully with a pencil eraser. 

On Suede

If you’re looking to avoid an expensive trip to the dry cleaner after getting ink on that suede jacket (or shoes, etc.), use a little fine-grit sandpaper and a gentle touch to remove or at least minimize it. Afterward, bring up the nap with a toothbrush or nailbrush.

On Skin

If the ink stains on your skin won’t come off with soap and water, try using a cotton ball soaked in nail polish remover instead. Once the ink stains are gone, wash skin with soap and water. Nail polish remover can also eliminate ink stains on the drum of your clothes dryer. Shortening is another good bet. 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.

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