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Highlighter pens sitting on a table.

How to Remove Highlighter and Other Ink Stains

How is it that kids always come home plastered in all kinds of art materials? Whether teenagers have scraped their sleeves over pen ink while writing essays or younger ones have got felt-tip ink on them from colouring, there always seems to be an ink stain to treat.

Luckily, finding out you have to remove ink from clothes (again) isn’t all that disastrous. Most inks are water-based and that makes the question “how do you get ink out of clothes?” pretty simple to answer.

How to remove ink stains from clothes

Top tip: Always read the labels on your clothes and on any laundry products you’re about to use before you start removing stains.

If you’re dealing with ink from something like a fountain pen, chances are the ink is water soluble. Removing ink from clothes in these situations is easy. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Blot the stain gently with a cloth or paper towel to remove excess ink fluid.
  2. Pre-treat the stain with Persil liquid; rub a little of the detergent into the stain with the Stain Eraser Ball or an old toothbrush. Be careful not to work the detergent in too vigorously though, you don’t want to damage those crisp white school shirts. 
  3. Wash the item of clothing according to the instructions on the label. If you can still see staining on the garment, repeat these steps again before drying the fabric.

How to remove highlighter stains and other pigment-based inks

Removing ink from clothes that isn’t water-based is a bit trickier. Start with the steps outlined above. If they don’t work, you’ll need to use a solvent instead: rubbing alcohol or hairspray is a good choice but you can also try hand sanitiser. Just make sure you test it on a small, discreet part of the fabric first – you want to remove ink from clothes, not the dye!

  1. Apply the solvent to the stain and blot it gently with a clean cloth.
  2. Once you’ve removed as much of the stain as you can with solvent, soak the garment for a few hours in a bowl of cold water mixed with salt to help draw out any remaining ink from the fabric. 
  3. Wash the garment according to the instructions on the care label. As before, remember to check the treated area as soon as it comes out of the wash and repeat the steps as necessary before the item dries.

With these simple steps, you should find removing ink from clothes simple and fuss-free – so let the kids enjoy unleashing their creativity!


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