You are currently viewing How You Can Remove Ball Pen Ink from Fabric

This post provides solutions for ink stain removal from fabric made of fibers. For leather clothing see how to remove ink stains from leather.


  1. Why Most Dry Cleaners Refuse to Remove Ink Stained Clothes
  2. Try Hand Sanitizer to Remove Ball Pen Ink from Fabric
  3. Salt the Fresh Spot
  4. Dry Cleaning Liquid
  5. Easy Ballpoint Pen Oil-Based Ink Stain Removal
  6. Baking Soda and Water to Remove Pen Ink from Fabric
  7. What Works for Ink on Cotton Fabric


Updated: 8/4/2022

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links.


Why Most Dry Cleaners Refuse to Remove Ink Stained Clothes

Most dry cleaner refuse to accept stained pieces for cleaning. They tell you that they can’t do anything, and all you can do is to toss the item. It’s ruined!

When that happens, you can as well try one of the following rescue methods of how to remove ink stain from fabric. The tricky thing is that the type of fabric and  its color, as well as the type of ink can have an impact on the outcome of the stain removal. Therefore, try at an invisible place first to see the impact of the treatment on the fabric and its color.


Tip: Never use hot water to soak an ink-spilled fabric. The heat will set the color.


Try Hand Sanitizer to Remove Ball Pen Ink from Fabric

When ink is spilled on fabric, act as soon as you notice. Fresh ink is easier to remove than dry ink. The drying process namely sets the stain into the fabric. When you don’t have the material handy, go to a restroom. Blot the ink gently with paper towel so it does not spread and create an even bigger spot. Be careful! Avoid rubbing it into the fabric. Use hand sanitizer to dilute the stain. Doing so improves the chances to remove water soluble ink during the wash.


Salt the Spot

When you are at a restaurant, salt is a great remedy for fresh ink. Add the salt on the spot and dab with a moist paper napkin to lift the stain. Repeat as needed.

Tip: This “salt method” also works for red wine spills.


Pro tip: Pin the flyer to your DIY board so you have it handy when you need to remove ball pen ink pen stains.


Dry Cleaning Liquid

Many fashionistas have a dry cleaning pen in their bag. These pens are filled with dry cleaning liquid. Blot the spot, then use the dry cleaning pen. Follow the instructions printed on the label. Make sure to blot between applications so the stain doesn’t grow from ink diluted in the dry cleaning liquid. You may also use a cotton ball with dry cleaning fluid to blot the spot. No matter which of these methods you choose, wash the clothing afterwards.


Dryel dry cleaning pens as an alternative to remove ball pen ink pen stains
Dry cleaning pens c/o Dryel. The pens can be easily carried in your purse to dry-clean immediately when a spill happens on delicate clothes.



Easy Ballpoint Pen Oil-Based Ink Stain Removal

For oil-based ballpoint pen ink, I had success with the following DIY removal.

  1. You need a suitable alcohol-based solvent like alcohol, hair spray or non-colored nail polish remover, blot paper, absorbent paper or an old color-proof piece of clothes or towel you don’t use anymore.
  2. Place the stained area on the absorbent surface.
  3. Apply the solvent, don’t rub, don’t scrap.
  4. Wait 3-5 minutes for the ink to go into solution before you blot the stain.
  5. Re-apply solvent if needed until ink is removed.
  6. Wash the area with detergent.


Baking Soda and Water to Remove Ball Pen Ink from Fabric

When the ink isn’t oil-based, you may try using baking soda and water mixture. This paste removes ink stains from most fabrics that you can wash.

  1. Mix baking soda and water in a 2:1 ratio
  2. Soak a cotton ball in this mixture.
  3. Dab it on the spot until the stain fades away.
  4. Wash the item using your regular detergent.


What Works for Just Ink on Cotton Fabric

When the stain is just ink on a cotton fabric, you can try the following if you like to try saving the piece.

  1. You need hairspray, an old clean towel or clean piece of color-proof clothes, cotton balls.
  2. Place an old towel or piece of color-proof clothes under the ink stain.
  3. Spray the stained area with enough hairspray that the spot is well soaked and the hairspray wouldn’t dry within the next minute or so.
  4. Let the hairspray set for a minute to allow the ink to dissolve in the hairspray.
  5. Then blot the wet spot with a cotton ball. Don’t use pressure when blotting, and don’t rub or scrape! Use a new cotton ball as needed. When you are lucky and the stain is small use a Q-tip instead of a cotton ball. Doing so avoids to spoil/impact the adjacent area of the spot.



stylist in designer sequin jacket and midi skirt
Side view


back view of older woman in street chic
Back view of OOTD


fashion blogger in midi skirt and designer jacket
Outfit details: Pendleton plaid skirt, L.K. Bennett tall boots, GNW Luxe sweater, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and designer jacket c/o StyleWe



Don’t forget to hit subscribe to receive the bi-weekly free High Latitude Style newsletter with a summary of all new posts and more about Fashion, Life and Science at the Last Frontier.

Photos of me: G. Kramm

Other photos and design: N. Mölders

© 2013-2022 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved