COIT’s Guide to Removing Ink Stains 

Ink is everywhere you look. From grocery lists, to labels, to photocopies, we use ink on a daily basis to communicate and get things done. It’s no wonder ink sometimes leaves a trail with the occasional ink stain in your home or on your clothes.

Whether you’ve got pen marks on the couch or pen marks on the carpet, ink stains don’t have to be permanent. With the right cleaning process, ink stains can actually be removed from most household surfaces.

COIT offers step-by-step guides to ink stain removal that you can try out in your own home.

Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible.

Spilled ink on wooden table next to half-full ink jar and fountain pen

Why Does Ink Stain?

Ink is made up of certain chemical properties that make it a bit tougher to remove than other household products. 

Ink comes in either a liquid or a paste form, and contains the following ingredients:

  • Pigments
  • Dyes
  • Solvents
  • Lubricants

Ink contains even more chemicals than listed above, depending on whether it’s an oil-based or water-based ink.

Types of Ink

There are four different types of ink that can stain your home’s surfaces:

  • Powder
  • Paste
  • Aqueous
  • Liquid

Modern-day ink is also divided into two classes: writing inks and printing inks. While black ink is made using carbon black, colored ink is made up of soybean oil, linseed oil, and is combined with organic pigments that often stain. 

When it comes to stain types, residue from food, fruit juice, and grass, for example, are considered organic stains, which make them easier to get rid of. Stains from paint, dyes, and ink, on the other hand, are considered inorganic stains, and are tougher to remove. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get rid of them! If you act quickly.

Regardless of whether your stain from ink is on fabric, leather, upholstery, or carpet, the faster you act, the better. Wet ink stains are easier to remove, so it’s important to act as quickly as possible before the ink dries.

Types of Ink Stains

There are a few different types of ink that create different kinds of ink stains:

  • Water-based ink
  • Permanent ink
  • Ballpoint ink 

Each type of stain from ink requires a different approach to remove it, so be sure to consider the surface you’re working with before you try anything.

Removing Water-Based Ink Stains

Water-based ink stains are the easiest of the bunch to remove. Both washable markers and t-shirt prints contain water-based ink. Many types of water-based ink are actually environmentally friendly. Depending on the surface, there are different ways to tackle ink stain removal.

If you’re trying to remove a water-based ink stain on fabric, for example, place a towel or paper towels underneath the stain. Using a cotton ball, apply a bit of rubbing alcohol and press firmly until the stain is absorbed.

Removing Permanent Ink Stains

Permanent ink stains aren’t quite as easy to tackle, but there are some steps you can take to lessen the impact. Take note that some permanent ink stains may leave some residue behind, but depending on how fast you act, your results will vary.

First, you can try applying rubbing alcohol onto the ink stain, with a cotton swab, if you’re working with a fabric. After firmly pressing, be sure to rinse the garment to remove the alcohol. If this ink removal technique isn’t working, try repeating the same process using nail polish remover or acetone.

Your degree of success will depend on how large the stain is and how long it has been there. It’s important to try one of these techniques as soon as you discover the ink stain- the quicker the better!

Removing Ballpoint Ink Stains

Ballpoint pen ink stains are not as difficult to remove as permanent marker ink stains. The ink in a ballpoint pen is made of pigments and dyes that provide the color. Ballpoint ink is slightly thick, slow drying, and free of particles. 

When it comes to removing ballpoint ink stains, try using rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, as mentioned above. If that doesn’t remove the stain, shaving cream is another option to try, depending upon the surface you’re cleaning. 

Step-by-Step Ink Stain Removal

For a step-by-step guide to removing other types of ink stains, explore this COIT stain removal page:

  1. How to remove ink stains on carpet



How To Remove Ink Stains from Leather

COIT’s Guide to Removing Ink Stains from Leather

Whether you’ve got a leather couch, a leather purse, or a leather jacket, chances are you run into an ink stain every once in a while. We carry pens in our purses and write lists while lounging on the couch, right?

The good news is, ink stains on leather can be removed. The sooner you discover the stain, the better, as more recent ink stains are easier to handle. Whether you’re working with leather ink stains on suede, vinyl, or smooth leather, the stain removal process is the same.

Ink Stain Removal

Take a look at COIT’s Guide to removing ink stains from leather for step-by-step instructions.

  1. Moisten a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Perform a “spot test” before attempting to remove the ink stain. Find a part of the leather that is relatively hidden to see the effects beforehand. Apply the cotton ball with rubbing alcohol onto a small portion of the leather, and let it sit for 10 minutes (you shouldn’t encounter any problems, but it’s always good to perform this spot test beforehand just to be sure.)
  3. Apply the cotton ball with rubbing alcohol onto the leather ink stain. In a circular motion, gently rub the affected area, using a circular motion. Do not scrub. You should begin to see the ink stain gradually disappear.
  4. Using leather conditioner, apply a small amount to the affected area. This will bring back moisture and shine.


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Alternative Methods to Remove Ink Stains from Leather

If the rubbing alcohol isn’t working, you can attempt a few other methods.

If you’re trying to remove an ink stain from a leather couch, try using a white eraser directly on the stain. The White Magic Eraser (found at Target or Wal-Mart) tends to work very well. Depending on the type of ink and how long the ink stain has been there, this may remove or lighten the stain.

Though you can use hairspray for other types of ink stains, do not use hairspray to get ink out of leather. Though hairspray does contain alcohol, the rest of the ingredients will damage the leather.

Is that annoying leather ink stain still lingering? For more advanced ink stain removal that requires specialized, professional care, consider COIT Cleaning servicesDon't forget to checkout our coupons!

Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible. These are suggested treatments only and COIT can't be held accountable for any damage sustained by use of the treatments in this spot removal guide.

How to Remove Ink Stains from Carpet

COIT’s Guide to Removing Ink Stains from Carpet

Keeping household carpet clean is no easy task. From dirt, to food, to ink stains on carpet, your living room, bedrooms, and hallways are put to the test every day of the week.

So how do you get rid of annoying ink stains that leave your carpet looking dirty? The first step is to take action on the ink stain as soon as possible. The drier the ink, the harder it is to remove, so don’t hesitate once you discover it.

Using COIT’s Guide to removing ink stains from carpet, you’ll have step-by-step instructions to help you tackle tough spots.

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Ink Stain Removal

How to Remove Ball Point Ink Stains from Carpet

If you have natural-fiber carpet, follow these steps to remove the ink stain:

  1. Buy two cans of cheap lacquer hair spray - you may need this much depending on how quickly the stain disappears.
  2. Spray the hairspray onto the ink stain. This will soften the ink.
  3. Using a white cloth towel, blot the lacquer. Do not scrub the stain; instead, repeat this process until the ink stain disappears.
  4. Once the area is dry, hand-brush the affected area and then vacuum. This should remove any traces of lacquer.

How to Remove Permanent Ink Stains from Carpet

  1. Moisten the ink stain with either rubbing alcohol or non-oily hairspray.
  2. Once you begin to lightly blot the ink stain from the carpet, you should start to see the color transfer onto the towel.
  3. Once the area is stain-free, dab the area with a towel dipped in lukewarm water. 

If this method doesn’t remove all of the permanent ink stains from your carpet, repeat the above steps using hairspray (note that these methods can dramatically reduce the appearance of the ink stain, but some permanent markers are in fact permanent!)

How to Remove Water-Based Ink Stains from Carpet

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with lukewarm water.
  2. Dab a towel into water, then dab the towel onto the ink stain.
  3. Repeat this process until stain has disappeared.


Is that carpet ink stain still lingering? For more advanced carpet cleaning that requires deeper, professional care, consider COIT Carpet Cleaning servicesDon't forget to check out our coupons!

Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible.  These are suggested treatments only and COIT can't be held accountable for any damage sustained by the use of the treatments in this spot removal guide.

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Home remedies not working?

If you’re still battling stubborn stains after trying these home remedies, professional cleaning may be a good option to explore. Check out COIT’s Cleaning Services to learn more about the help we can offer.

Contact COIT for stain removal help