How to remove gel ink from fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Things You'll Need

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

A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."