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How to Remove Gel Ink Stains From Clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Pen ink comes in various forms and leaves different stains on clothes. Gel pen ink contains pigments and a water-based gel, producing the distinctive thickness that makes these pens popular. Gel pen ink stains tend to stay longer than other types of ink and require immediate treatment to prevent permanent staining. Using improper methods can result in discolouration of the stained clothes, so always try the cleaning substance on a small, hidden area before treating the entire fabric.

Fill a container with cold water and dip the stained area in the water for 20 minutes. Use a paper towel to blot the stain to absorb excess moisture.

Lay two sheets of paper towel on a clean, even surface. Place the area with the stain on the paper towel. Spray the stain with an alcohol-based hairspray to break down the tincture. Pat the stain with paper towels to absorb the stain. Repeat to remove as much ink as possible.

Wet the stain with a nail polish remover, add a few drops of clear liquid washing powder and rub the area with your fingers. Rinse off the detergent and nail polish remover with water.

Fill a large, stainless steel pot with water to about 3 inches from the rim and boil it. Add 3/4 to 1 cup commercial stain remover and stir to dissolve. Turn down the heat to simmer and immerse a stained clothing item in the pot for one hour. Let the brew cool to room temperature, transfer the clothing item to the washing machine and wash as usual. Only use this method with clothes that you can wash with hot water.

Mix equal parts water, powdered detergent and ammonia to make a paste. Apply the paste to any remaining traces of ink and leave it for five minutes. Don't let the paste come in contact with other areas because it can cause colours to fade. Rinse the treated area with water to remove any residue.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Water
  • Paper towel
  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish remover
  • Clear liquid washing powder
  • Large, stainless steel pot
  • Commercial stain remover
  • Powdered detergent
  • Ammonia
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About the Author

Edriaan Koening began writing professionally in 2005, while studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She has since written for several magazines and websites. Koening also holds a Master of Commerce in funds management and accounting from the University of New South Wales.