How to erase pen ink

Written by g.d. palmer
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How to erase pen ink
The right materials can remove ink marks completely. (Getty Creative)

Most people believe ink is permanent. Compared to graphite, ink is, but it is possible to erase pen ink from paper. Some inks are easier to erase than others, and most will leave a trace, but the right technique can save a drawing or important document from disaster. Ink-erasing techniques can be an enormous help to artists. Removing ink from paper isn't difficult, but it does require a little care.

Things you need

  • Inked document or drawing
  • Tissue
  • Medium hard electric eraser
  • Citric acid
  • Water
  • Craft knife
  • Paper
  • Tape

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Blot excess ink. For an ink spill or blot, remove liquid ink from a document with a tissue. Pat the surface gently. Rubbing can spread the stain. Remove as much liquid ink as possible before attempting to erase.

  2. 2

    Allow remaining ink to dry. An eraser will simply smear wet ink. Place a smooth, hard surface under the portion of the paper that needs to be cleaned. Use an electric eraser with a medium hard erasing bit in a circular pattern. Don't press too hard, and keep the eraser moving. This method removes some of the surface of the paper, but takes the ink with it. Brush away all eraser particles when finished.

  3. 3

    Lift out the error. Some weaker writing and drawing inks can be removed with a mild acid solution. Mix 1 part citric acid with 4 parts water. Apply this liquid to the area and blot the paper with tissue. You may be able to lift the ink out of the paper. This method works best on heavy paper that won't be damaged by water.

  4. 4

    Scrape away the ink. If you can't erase or lift the ink, you may be able to scrape the ink off the surface of the paper. Use the blade of a craft knife to gently scuff the paper and flake off the ink. This method works best with shellac-based drawing inks, like India ink, that sit on the surface of the paper. It works least well with dye-type inks that sink into the paper.

  5. 5

    Replace the paper. If all other methods fail, “erase” the ink by removing the error completely. This is a good method for documents you plan to reproduce. Use a craft knife to carefully trim around the error. Cut a new piece of paper a little larger than the error, and place it behind the hole. Use clear tape on the back of the document to hold the new paper in place, and re-ink the area. Photocopy or scan the document to get a clean copy.

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