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How to remove ball pen ink from fabric

#fashionover50 woman in blue sweater, red suede leather skirt, scarf and tight

Ink stain removal from fabric

Last week, I answered the question how to remove ink stains from leather. In response to the post, a reader asked how to remove ink pen stains from fabric.

Unfortunately, it happens again and again. You were in a meeting, and upon leaving you have to schlep not only your coffee mug filled with coffee, but some left-over cookies/goodies plus various hand-outs including the notebook you brought to the meeting. After your pen followed the laws of gravity twice, you are annoyed of its gravity tests. You put your pen into the pocket of your shirt, jeans, dress or blouse, and successfully load the other stuff into your hands and head back to your office. There you answer the piled up emails and voice mails. At the end of the day, you head to the restroom to touch up your makeup. Next you see in the mirror a big fat pen stain. Of course, it’s Murphy’s law that it is your favorite piece or the brand new purchase. Now what?

Of course, you can bring the item to the dry cleaner. However, 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. The tricky thing is that the fabric type, the type of color of the fabric, and type of ink can have an impact on the outcome of the stain removal. In all cases, try at an invisible place first to see what the effect of the treatment has on the color and fabric.

#midlifestyle mature woman in casual work outfit with red skirt and blue sweater
Anne Klein abstract print silk scarf, GNW Luxe blue cashmere wool sweater, G-III red suede leather skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, GNW tight, long pendant necklace, and red Manolo Blahnik booties (all own)

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, 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.

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 scrap! 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.
#accessories silk printed scarf, pendant and studded bangle
Zoom-in on details of the casual work outfit with Anne Klein abstract print silk scarf, GNW Luxe cashmere wool sweater, G-III suede leather skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, and pendant necklace (all own)

Stain-free outfit of the day

Winter in the Interior seems to be a never ending story this year. Anyhow, here is a new winter-to-spring transition outfit that you may like. When you are a long-term reader of the blog, you may have seen this skirt before. It is one of my favorites. Actually, it’s also one of my highest performing wardrobe item with the lowest cost per wear. Probably, I should add an update to the How to recycle a favorite skirt in 30 outfits post that you can find at the link.

#midlifefashion older woman in casual office look with sweater, and thrifted suede skirt, booties and scarf
Front view of casual office look with Anne Klein oblong scarf, GNW Luxe long-sleeves sweater, G-III suede straight skirt, Hermes collier de chien bangle, pendant necklace, and Manolo Blahnik buckle booties (all own)

A stained second hand find

This suede skirt was a second-hand find with a $20 price tag. The previous owner had sold it because she couldn’t find a dry cleaner in town who would clean it. To my best knowledge there is still none in town who cleans suede. They are afraid of color changes. Even when you offer that you sign a waiver not to make them responsible for any color changes, they won’t clean it. Using a plastic brush and conditioning spray I cleaned the skirt meanwhile twice.

Top of the World Style linkup

Now let’s party. I am so excited that today we have Bethany Quisenberry of Cute Capsule Life as a co-hostess for our Top of the World Style linkup party.

Bethany of Cute Capsule Life co-hosting the Top of the World Style linkup
Bethany Quisenberry of Cute Capsule Life (shown here with her two boys) is co-hosting the Top of the World Style linkup party. Photo courtesy to her

Bethany is a 40-something mom of two boys, wife to Kevin, and full-time actuary for a large insurance company.  She started blogging for fun last year at, where she shares her personal style.  Bethany and her family recently moved to Kentucky from Illinois. Please follow your co-hostess on facebook and Pinterest.

Top of the World Style awards

Now lets get to the award ceremony.

Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav

Martina of My Fab Forties became Top of the World Style Readers' Fav
Martina of My Fab Forties became Top of the World Style Readers’ Fav beating winter’s last tries with a posh chic spring office outfit. Photo from her post

Martina, the blogger at My Fab Forties became Top of the World OOTD Readers’ Fav as her thumbnail was clicked the most. Her spring office look in the snow storm with the beautiful umbrella is a great way to get a head start on the spring wardrobe even though spring seems not to be very cooperative so far.

Top of the World OOTD My Fav

Gail at Is this Mutton, became Top of the World OOTD My Fav
Gail Hanlon, the blogger at Is this Mutton, became Top of the World OOTD My Fav. Photo from her post

I love this work outfit with sequins and plaid that Gail Hanlon. She is a 50 something and blogs at Is This Mutton linked up. Sequins are just too beautiful to be just worn at night. You can find more on how to wear sparkle during the day at the link.

Top of the World Style Winner

Nancy, the Dutch blogger at Nancy’s Fashion Style was the Top of the World Style Winner. She looks stunning in her LBD styled with a Rock’n Roll edge with leather.

Congrats Ladies! Grab your award bottoms from the linkup party directory page.

Linkup by pressing the blue button below.


Do you want to linkup your outfit post, but don’t know how? You can find a tutorial with easy-to-follow instructions how to linkup at this link.

Do you want to get a free feature at the party? Then apply to become a co-host by sending me an email.

Keeping in Touch

Are you registered for my email reminders to let you know when a new post goes live? I’d certainly love it if you take the time to sign up and make sure all your friends sign up too!!

Photos of me: G. Kramm

© 2013-2018 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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