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How to Remove Ball Point Ink From Paper

Updated February 21, 2017

Remove ballpoint ink from paper while causing as little damage as possible to the paper itself. Ballpoint inks are varied and may have very different chemical compositions, depending on the manufacturer and type of pen. Most ballpoint inks will respond to initial removal efforts, while others may require alternative methods or multiple treatments. Carefully clean away ballpoint ink from paper to leave behind a blank surface that is still intact and completely reusable.

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  1. Place the ballpoint ink-stained paper on a clean and dry flat surface on top of two stacked sheets of paper towels.

  2. Attempt to erase the ballpoint ink from the paper using an eraser from an erasable ink pen. Some ballpoint inks easily erase right off the paper.

  3. Open the isopropyl alcohol, and slowly pour the solvent into its own lid until the lid is about half full.

  4. Dip the end of a cotton swab into the isopropyl alcohol, and gently press the soaked tip to the ballpoint ink on the paper. Spin the cotton swab to a new position or use a new alcohol-dipped end each time the cotton end gets dark with ink.

  5. Cover the treated area with two more paper towels, and place a heavy book on top. Allow the paper to dry for at least 30 minutes before removing it to examine the results.

  6. Retreat the areas where the ballpoint ink is still visible with additional isopropyl alcohol soaked cotton swabs if the first treatment has not completely cleaned the paper.

  7. Spray unscented aerosol hairspray directly onto the remaining ballpoint ink if multiple attempts with the isopropyl alcohol have not been successful. Gently blot the sprayed areas with a folded paper towel between sprays.

  8. Sandwich the paper in the middle of four new paper towels, and press it down with the heavy book for another 30 minutes to dry.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper towels
  • Erasable ink pen eraser
  • 91 per cent isopropyl alcohol
  • Cotton swabs
  • Heavy book
  • Aerosol hairspray (unscented)

About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.

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