How to remove gel pen ink

Written by kathryn hatter
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How to remove gel pen ink
Remove gel pen ink from fabric by pretreating it. (ink splats image by Adrian Hillman from

Smooth, gliding gel ink is a pleasure to write and draw with as you put pen to paper; however, the fun stops when you accidentally smear gel ink on fabric. Because gel ink has a different composition than ballpoint ink, you must treat a gel ink stain differently. With prompt attention and effort, you can remove or minimise a gel ink stain using common household products.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Ammonia
  • Protein-treating laundry detergent
  • Dishpan
  • Toothbrush

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  1. 1

    Measure 1 tsp of ammonia and 1 gallon of warm water in the dishpan.

  2. 2

    Add the recommended amount of laundry detergent for a small wash load to the dishpan.

  3. 3

    Swirl the ingredients around slightly to mix them.

  4. 4

    Place the stained fabric into the dishpan and push it down beneath the surface of the water. Allow the fabric to sit in the sudsy water for up to five minutes.

  5. 5

    Scrub at the gel ink stain with the toothbrush to loosen and remove the stain. Continue scrubbing until you remove the stain completely.

  6. 6

    Rinse the fabric under cool water.

  7. 7

    Wash the garment in the washing machine using a standard wash cycle and a normal amount of laundry detergent.

  8. 8

    Remove the garment when the wash cycle finishes and assess the stain. If the stain is gone, dry the garment in the dryer as usual. If the stain persists, repeat the pretreating process and wash it a second time.

Tips and warnings

  • If the fabric is not washable, consult a dry cleaning service to inquire about removing gel ink from the fabric.
  • Treat gel ink on upholstery by mixing one part isopropyl alcohol and one part white vinegar in a small bowl. Saturate a cleaning cloth with the mixture and blot at the stain with the cloth until the fabric is wet. Allow the solution to remain on the stain for five minutes, and then sprinkle salt over the stain. Let the salt sit for another five minutes, and then brush it off. Blot at the stain with another cloth saturated with water, working until you remove the entire stain. Rinse the stain a final time with plain water on another cloth.

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