A pen exploding and leaving your clothes covered in ink can seem like an unsolvable nightmare, but there are actually many ways to approach cleaning this particular mess with common household items.

With any of the items you choose to clean the ink stain with, it's important to take note of a few things:

  • Act fast. You'll have a much better chance of removing stains successfully if the stain is still wet, whereas a dried stain will require more heavy-duty cleaning than what regular household items can accomplish.
  • Blot the stain, don't rub it. Blotting the mess will you allow you to absorb the ink, whereas rubbing the stain can spread the stain on your shirt even more.
  • Avoid using heat. Heat can help the stain set, making it harder to remove. When cleaning, try to use cold water, and if you run the clothing through a washing machine, check to make sure the stain is completely gone before drying it.
a series of pens

Household Items That Remove Ink Stains From Clothes

There are several household ingredients that are tried-and-true ink stain removers:


a tall glass of milk

Soaking the stained clothing in milk overnight and then going through your usual washing routine can help combat the ink stains. If you don't have the means to soak the entire piece of clothing, just make sure the whole stained area is submerged in milk overnight.


Salt is known to absorb liquids -- pour a heavy amount of salt on the stain while it's still wet, then dab the stain with damp paper towel. Repeat this process to ensure as much of the stain is removed as possible, then wash the clothing as usual.

Vinegar And Cornstarch

Vinegar is a strong cleaning solution, and combining it with cornstarch makes for an effective paste that can easily remove ink stains. Start by pouring a small amount of vinegar on the stain, then make a vinegar-cornstarch paste that's around one part vinegar to two parts cornstarch. Apply the paste to the stained area and let it dry completely, then clean the article of clothing as you normally would.


Simply give the affected area a good spray and then go about your standard laundry routine. The chemicals in the hairspray should loosen up the ink so that the laundry detergent and hot water can effectively remove the stain.


purell hand sanitizer

Nail polish, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers are arguably the most effective ways to remove ink stains. The alcohol in these products serves as a harsh chemical to loosen up the ink in the fibers. Apply the alcohol to the stained area and dampen a white cloth with a bit more alcohol to blot the stained area. Continue to dab the stain and the ink should disappear. If the stain is being especially stubborn, try adding a touch of liquid detergent to the area, let it sit for five minutes, then wash under hot water.

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