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How to remove a ballpoint pen ink stain

Updated April 17, 2017

So you're in a big meeting or about to give a speech and suddenly, you're covered in ink. Ballpoint pens do leak and sometimes pop open. It happens. But don't panic. A few easy steps can help you get rid of those unwanted pen stains.

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  1. If the stain is still wet, blot it with the damp cloth, removing whatever you can. Do not rub, which will only further stain the material.

  2. Lay the clothing on the towel and dab the stain with rubbing alcohol, using the clean, dry cloth. Using a few sheets of paper towels, apply pressure to the damp stain, hopefully absorbing the ink. Re-dab with alcohol and repeat. Rinse with warm water.

  3. If the stain still remains, another technique to try is washing with nail polish remover. Use this just like the rubbing alcohol. Dab with a clean, dry cloth, and absorb with paper towels and rinse. The acetone in the remover should remove the ink.

  4. You can also spray hairspray on the stain. Use aerosol or pump. Spray liberally, absorb with paper towels, let it dry and rinse. Repeat if necessary. Be sure to check clothing labels. Hairspray can damage sensitive materials.

  5. Finally, you can try applying hydrogen peroxide. Just pour a small amount on the stain, dab, absorb and rinse. Hydrogen peroxide can bleach certain coloured materials, so be careful. Try it on a small, inconspicuous portion of the clothing first, like the inside of a pant leg or sleeve.

  6. Tip

    If none of these remedies work, try a professional dry cleaner. If the stain still remains, it may be too deeply seeped into the material to remove.


    Always read the labels on clothing before attempting any stain-removing techniques. You do not want to further damage clothes by using harsh chemicals on sensitive materials.

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Things You'll Need

  • Damp cloth
  • Towel
  • Clean, dry cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nail polish remover
  • Hairspray
  • Hydrogen peroxide

About the Author

Eddie Wright is a freelance writer who has worked in television and has been writing since 2004. He is the author of the novella, "Broken Bulbs," and a member of the publishing collective Backword Books. Wright has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Monmouth University

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