Which type of ink stain remover should be used on a stain depends on what type of ink caused the stain. Before deciding upon a product to use, the ink stain must be first assessed to determine if it was caused by water-based ink, a ball point pen, a permanent marker, or another permanent ink. The ink stain remover needed to eliminate the stain could be a simple household chemical, like hairspray, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide. Special fabric stain removal products can also be purchased. Before starting any stain treatment, the washing instructions for the garment or fabric should be checked.
When dealing with a ball point pen mark on fabric, the best ink stain remover may be rubbing alcohol. Place the area with the pen mark over an absorbent towel, and, with another clean towel that has been soaked in alcohol, dab the pen mark. Using a dabbing or tapping motion on the area is important so that the ink is not smeared. Hairspray and nail polish remover can also be used to help remove the stain, using the same application technique. Most minor ball point pen marks can also be removed by pre-treatment with a simple laundry detergent.
Permanent markers and inks are made so that they can be easily removed. If the fabric can be bleached, this may be the appropriate ink stain remover. In most cases, however, bleach cannot be used because the fabric is colored or patterned. As with ball point pen marks, some household products, like rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover may be useful.
Water-based ink stains are the easiest to remove. Caution must be taken, however, to prevent the stain from running and creating a much larger and more difficult mess. After the excess ink has been removed by blotting the stain with a cloth soaked in mild soap and water, the fabric should be pre-treated with a stain remover or laundry detergent, and washed.
Stain removers like Shout® or Carbona® are formulated to be able handle a wide array of stains, and can be applied to the affected area after blotting. Before purchasing an ink stain remover, read the label to see what types of stains the chemical has been formulated for. When using the product to treat an ink stain, the product is usually sprayed or dabbed onto the spot and allowed to sit for at least five minutes. After the proper time has elapsed, the fabric should be laundered according to the label instructions and allowed to air dry.
It is important to try to treat a stain before it has a chance to dry, or set. Stain treatment sprays and wipes can be kept in a purse or pocket, in case of such an accident. If there is nothing like that available, but a first aid kit is accessible, a rubbing alcohol wipe may be used to clean the area.