How to Remove Gel Ink Stains From Clothes

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: AndreaObzerova/iStock/GettyImages
See More Photos

You've probably been there: You just opened a shiny new package of gel ink pens and were starting to use them when you accidentally stained your favorite shirt with the ink. Don't throw out your clothing or the gel pens just yet, though. You can easily remove gel ink stains from your clothes using common household ingredients if you act fast.


Video of the Day

Know the Different Types of Ink

When figuring out how to remove ink from clothes, you'll first need to figure out what type of ink it is. Most inks fall under one of three categories: dye-based, water-based, or permanent.

Gel ink and fountain pen ink are usually made with water-based ink, which is relatively easy to remove from clothing if you get to the stain quickly. Most ballpoint pen ink is dye-based, which is made by combining dyes with grease. Ballpoint pen ink stains need to be pretreated and are slightly trickier to remove than water-based inks. Permanent ink, like Sharpie ink, is designed to be permanent but can be removed with some grit and determination using a mixture of hair spray, vinegar, and baking soda.


Since most gel ink is water-based, it's known to be the easiest ink stain to remove from clothing. Depending on whether your stain is fresh or dried and the garment's material, you'll want to use different methods to remove the gel ink from your clothing.

How to Remove Fresh Gel Ink Stains With Soap and Water

If the stain is fresh, you can remove the gel ink stain from your clothes by blotting it with soap or laundry detergent and cold water. You'll want to give the soap time to soak into the garment and then blot the area with a cloth or paper towel to remove the stain.


You can also throw the garment in the washing machine after pretreating it with soap and water to remove the ink. Use cold or warm water, as hot water can cause the ink stain to set quicker. Once your garment is washed, check to ensure the stain is fully removed from your garment before tossing it in the dryer. If you still see a stain, run it through your washing machine again with detergent to remove it.


How to Remove Gel Ink Stains With Rubbing Alcohol

If the stain is being stubborn and refusing to lift with just soap and water, try using rubbing alcohol. Before applying the rubbing alcohol, carefully blot the area with a paper towel, cloth, or cotton ball to remove any fresh ink from the garment. Then, wet a paper towel, cloth, or cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blot it on a small portion of the stain to see how it responds. If there are no issues, continue blotting the area, replacing the applicator as it becomes saturated with ink to avoid spreading ink on more sections of your garment. Continue to blot the garment and avoid wiping or rubbing until the ink is removed.


How to Remove Dried Gel Ink Stains From Clothes

Don't throw in the towel if you're dealing with a dried ink stain. You'll just need a bit more time and patience to remove these stains.

First, place an old towel underneath your garment and lay your clothing on it. Then, pretreat the ink stain by pouring rubbing alcohol on it or spraying hair spray on it and letting it sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, grab a paper towel, cotton ball, or cloth and blot the stain with cold water. Keep blotting and replacing your chosen medium until the ink is absorbed. Rinse the garment in cold water and check to see if the stain is gone.


If the stain persists, grab some liquid glycerin and apply it to the spot using a cotton ball or swab. After that, top off the area with laundry detergent, mix both the detergent and glycerin together, and rinse with cold water. If the stain is still there, don't despair because it can take a couple of rounds of this treatment process to get the dried gel ink stain to lift completely.


Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...