How to remove gel ink from fabric

Written by traci joy Google
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How to remove gel ink from fabric
Gel ink stain (ink stain image by Dmitri MIkitenko from

Gel ink is a pigmented ink that is designed to be permanent, which makes it difficult to remove from fabrics. Available in a wide variety of bright colours, gel ink is especially popular among the younger generation, who sometimes are careless when using gel pens. A mishap with a gel ink pen can leave stains on fabrics, whether upholstery or clothing, but they can often be removed by using one of two methods.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Household ammonia
  • Clean white cloths
  • Toothbrush
  • Washing powder
  • White vinegar
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Bowl
  • Salt

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    Using Ammonia and Detergent

  1. 1

    Measure out 1 tsp of household general purpose ammonia and mix it with 1 gallon of water.

  2. 2

    Add 1/4 cup of a protein-based washing powder. Uni-ball, a leading maker of gel pens, recommends ERA washing powder.

  3. 3

    Dip an old toothbrush in the ammonia/detergent mix and scrub the stain on the fabric. Use a circular motion, rotating first in one direction and then the other. Keep scrubbing until you break through the stain.

  4. 4

    Rinse the fabric with warm water, and then wash according to fabric directions.

    Using Alcohol and Vinegar

  1. 1

    Mix 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol in a bowl.

  2. 2

    Dip a clean, white cloth into the mixture and then moisten the stain well with it. Let the mixture sit on the stain for five minutes.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle table salt on the stain and then let it sit for another five minutes. Use a toothbrush to scrape the salt off the stain.

  4. 4

    Wet a clean cloth with hot water, and blot the stain. Repeat the blotting until the stain is removed. Add a drop of washing powder to the stain if it is not lifting very easily.

  5. 5

    Rinse the detergent and stain one more time with plain water and a clean damp cloth. When the soap and ink are rinsed clear, allow the fabric to dry.

Tips and warnings

  • Treat gel ink stains as soon as you discover them. The longer they set, the less chance you have of removing them.
  • Never mix an ammonia based cleaning product with a product containing bleach, as the mixture produces toxic fumes and can be deadly.

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