It's time for some real talk. Security tag ink serves as an anti-theft device. If you try to remove the security tag yourself, the ink will explode onto the clothing and permanently ruin it. Since ruining the clothing is the intent, security tag manufacturers use inks that are difficult and sometimes impossible to remove.
If a store clerk accidentally leaves the security tag on one of your purchases, the best thing you can do is go back to the store with your receipt and ask them to remove it. If it's too late for that, there are several dye removal techniques you can try, but there may not be any way to remove the ink and save the affected clothing.
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Dye Removal Basics
To increase your chances of success, it's imperative that you act quickly. If you give the ink time to set, you may lose your window for removing it. The very first step is always to lay the garment on one clean, white, lint-free towel and blot it with another. Keep refolding or changing out your blotting towel so that you are always blotting the garment with a clean area on the towel. Soak up as much of the ink as you possibly can this way.
Your next step is to stop and consider how much of a gamble you're willing to take. The dry cleaner could be your best friend. They have access to all kinds of stain removal chemicals, and they know how to use them safely. They may be able to help you unless you've already tried a stain removal method that accidentally set the stain.
If you just don't have time for the dry cleaner or if you're feeling brave, you'll want to move on to trying different stain removal agents after you blot the stain. When you do, always test the stain remover on a discrete area of the garment. Failure to do this can lead to disaster, so don't skip this step.
Oil-Based Ink Stains
There's no way to know exactly what type of ink you're dealing with, but it definitely won't be an easily removed water-based product. Oil-based ink is harder to remove and is much more likely to be what you're up against. The key to removing these stains is alcohol.
Ideally, you should blot the stain with a clean rag wet with rubbing alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer or hair spray will also work if that's what you have on hand. Dab your chosen alcohol onto the stain and then let it sit for about five minutes. Don't let the alcohol dry or evaporate while you wait. If necessary, add more alcohol to keep the stain wet.
Blot the stain after letting it soak to lift as much of it as you can. Repeat this soaking and blotting process until at least 90 percent of the stain is gone. When it is, soak the stain in laundry detergent, rub it in, and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing away the detergent.
High-Pigment Ink Stains
If alcohol failed or if you want to pull out the big guns right away, blot the stain and then apply some ammonia mixed with warm water. Let the ammonia sit on the garment for an hour and then scrub the stain gently with a soft brush. Next, sprinkle some table salt over the stain and gently rub it in. Let the salt sit for 10 minutes.
When the time is up, brush the salt off the garment and rinse away the ammonia with warm water. If the stain is lighter but still present, repeat the process until the stain is gone. Wash the garment according to the label instructions when you're finished to remove any lingering ammonia smell.
Bleach the Garment
Another option is to try beaching the garment using a color-safe bleach if the garment isn't white. Even color-safe bleach can alter the shade of clothing, however, so you should never use bleach as a spot treatment. Soak the entire garment instead so that any color change is universal.
When using bleach, always dilute it according to the directions on the label. Soak your garment in the diluted bleach for 15 minutes. If the stain hasn't come out by then, it's simply not going to. Further soaking will only serve to weaken the fabric.