Tips for removing ink stains from almost any surface

If the sight of ink on your carpet or clothing throws you into a panic, stop, take a deep breath and reach for the alcohol — methylated spirits, that is. It's definitely the best remedy for removing any kind of ink from leather, carpet, upholstery and clothing (as long as the stain isn't permanent ink, made by felt-tip pens). Clean an ink stain immediately, and always use cool water, as heat will set the stain. Before using a cleaner on any fabric or surface, test an inconspicuous spot to check its colour-fastness.

Tips for removing ink stains from almost any surface

1. To remove ink from leather, vinyl and most fabrics

  • Moisten a section of clean, white terry towelling with methylated spirits and dab the metho on the ink stain.
  • Let the metho sit for 30 minutes to give it time to dissolve the ink.
  • Then use a fresh white cloth to blot up the stain.
  • Move to a new spot on the cleaning cloth each time you blot, to avoid spreading the stain.
  • Reapply the methylated spirits if necessary.
  • Finally, rinse with a solution of 50 ml (1/4 cup) of white vinegar per 1 litre (1 quart) of water and then rinse again with plain water.

2. To remove ink from fabrics

  • Blot — never rub — the alcohol on. Rubbing the fabric will break down the fibres and weaken the material.
  • To prevent large stains from spreading, work from the outside of the stain towards the centre.
  • Remember to protect your working surface when removing a stain from clothing. Place a piece of plastic on the work surface, with a clean, white towel on top of that. Do the same between layers of clothing.
  • Wash clothing or washable fabric after removing the stain and air dry.
  • Professionally dry-clean silk, wool and linen that specifies dry-cleaning.
  • If the garment is hand washable, allow the alcohol to set only five minutes and rinse with cool water.
  • Reapply if needed.

3. To use hydrogen peroxide

To treat ink stains with hydrogen peroxide instead of alcohol, mix equal parts 20 per cent hydrogen peroxide and water and proceed as mentioned above.

4. To remove ink from carpet

  • Moisten a section of clean, white terry towelling with alcohol and gently blot the spot.
  • Wait 30 minutes for the alcohol to dissolve the ink, then press the knuckle of your index finger into the barely damp rag. Work your knuckle forwards and backwards over the stain.
  • Change to a clean spot on the towel and repeat, this time working your knuckle left to right.
  • Replenish alcohol if needed.
  • To finish removing the stain, again press your knuckle into the damp towel, but this time twist your wrist in a clockwise direction. Carpet fibres are twisted clockwise. This motion will help remove stains from between the fibres without causing the carpet to fuzz.
  • Rinse with a solution of 50 ml (1/4 cup) of white vinegar per 1 litre (1 quart) of water and then rinse again with plain water, applied using a fresh towel and the same knuckle technique.

5. Permanent markers

  • The ink from felt-tipped pens and markers is almost impossible to remove — they are called 'permanent' markers for a reason.
  • For washable fabrics, mix equal parts talcum powder and borax with enough alcohol to make a paste. Spread this over the stain and leave for an hour or so, then wash out with your usual laundry powder.
  • This might lighten the stain if it doesn't remove it entirely.
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