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How to remove ballpoint pen ink from a car's headliner

Ballpoint pen ink on your car's headliner can create a permanent stain. Applying liquid to ballpoint ink may cause the ink to spread on your car's ceiling, increasing the disfiguring effect. One time-tested solution to ink stains provides a safe solution for removing ballpoint pen ink from most car headliner surfaces. Despite its former popularity as an ink stain remover, hairspray no longer works for ink removal because it contains little or no alcohol, according to the Good Housekeeping website.

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  1. Open all the car windows for cross-ventilation. This will help reduce exposure to the alcohol fumes.

  2. Moisten a clean rag with rubbing alcohol. Use only enough alcohol to make the rag damp. Dab the ballpoint ink carefully with the rag. Do not rub, as rubbing can cause the stain to spread.

  3. Blot the ink with a dry area of the rag. This helps to lift out the ink once the ink is damp with alcohol.

  4. Continue dabbing the ballpoint pen ink on the headliner with the alcohol. Use a clean area of the rag for each area of the stain to avoid the risk of transferring dissolved ink back onto the liner. Blot gently with a dry part of the rag after each dab of alcohol. Repeat, if necessary, until all the ink is gone.

  5. Tip

    As with any stain-removal technique, test the alcohol on an unobtrusive area first, such as under a visor to see how the alcohol affects the headliner before attempting to remove the ballpoint pen ink. Keeping alcohol wipes and clean rags in the car provides a quick method for stain removal. Pharmacies carry packets of alcohol wipes.


    Air the car out fully before transporting children or pets.

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Clean, white absorbent rag, such as T-shirt material

About the Author

Gryphon Adams began publishing in 1985. He contributed to the "San Francisco Chronicle" and "Dark Voices." Adams writes about a variety of topics, including teaching, floral design, landscaping and home furnishings. Adams is a certified health educator and a massage practitioner. He received his Master of Fine Arts at San Francisco State University.

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