How to Clean Ballpoint Ink Out Of Clothing

Whether you’re a student or work in an office, it is likely that you will be battling some ink stains on your clothing. We have some quick and easy at home remedies to this common problem.

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Aerosol hairspray
  • Washing machine
  • Laundry detergent

Steps to Remove the Ink:

  1. Treat the stain as soon as possible for the best results.
  2. Spray the stain liberally with aerosol hairspray. The cheap brands work best as they contain the most alcohol.
  3. Plain rubbing alcohol can also be applied to the stain.
  4. Allow the liquid to sit on the stain for a short time, but do not let it dry.
  5. Immediately toss it into a washing machine and wash as usual with laundry detergent.
  6. Once washed, allow the piece to air dry to be sure the stain is no longer visible. Once it’s completely removed, wash and dry the piece as usual.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • The above method has had a high success rate, but there are also stain removal products that can be used if they are more readily available.
  • Allow stain removers to soak longer on the stain before washing to give them time to break down the ink particles.
  • Aerosol hairspray works better than pump sprays. Rave and AquaNet are two popular brands to use for the best stain removal.


  1. Cathy says:

    First of all, purchase a can of AEROSOL hairspray (the cheaper the brand, the better). (THE PUMP KIND OF HAIRSPRAY WILL NOT WORK.) While the clothing is still dry & you are ready to throw it in washer… shake the can of AEROSOL hairspray really well and then spray it on ink-marks, & even where a pen may have leaked into the shirt-pocket making a bigger mess, etc. Then, consider waiting approximately 1 minute or less (DO NOT GIVE IT TIME TO DRY OUT)…& JUST TOSS IT IN WITH YOUR REGULAR LOAD OF CLOTHES.

    Note: THE SECOND YOU SPRAY ON THE AEROSOL HAIRSPRAY, YOU WILL NOTICE THE INK SPOTS STARTING TO DISSEMINATE SLIGHTLY IN FRONT OF YOU. CAUTION: AFTER SPRAYING, IT IS BEST TO IMMEDIATELY TOSS IT INTO THE WASHER ALREADY FULL OF WATER & YOUR LAUNDRY DETERGENT YOU USE NORMALLY (do NOT wait, as it should not be allowed to dry before being added to the wash)! When the clothing is removed from the washer, you will no longer see the ink on the clothes—it’s been a real lifesaver for me… as I’ve worked in an office for years; this miracle-tip has saved me a ton of money that I would’ve spent on replacement clothing! My mother taught me this trick over 25 years ago.

  2. Connie says:

    Rubbing alcohol dissolves ballpoint ink.

  3. Alicia says:

    A good scrub with cold water and IVORY soap does it good.

  4. Rennysue says:

    Soaking the item in Biz will take out the ink also.

  5. Barbero says:

    Milk is the fastest, pour some milk on the ink (DO NOT WET THE CLOTH with water) & let sit for 1 minute. Rub it with a brush & after the ink is gone, put it in the washer.

  6. Charlie says:

    I was very surprised the hairspray actually worked. Our daughter was in tears when she opened the dryer
    to find an ink pen had exploded and was all over her coveted designer jeans and shirts. I used aqua net heavily on the affected areas, and immediately put them in water, then transferred to the washer.
    I washed in warm water with a pre-soak, and an extra rinse cycle. It came off her jeans completely and some of her shirts, but didn’t come off pj’s or tank tops.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Hair spray really works. My daughter’s light blue work shirt had ink all over one side, so I sprayed it with hair spray, then dabbed with a paper towel. I did that for 15 minutes, sprayed again, then poured liquid detergent on it. Finally I rubbed it with tap water, and it all came out.

  8. Anoymonous says:

    Does anyone know a way to get a little bit of ink out of clothes without washing them? I have ink on my jumper and I need to wear it now!

  9. Marc says:

    I happened to use a small amount of Gordon’s dry gin; was all I had around the house with a high alcohol content. Worked like a treat. I’m guessing any clear spirit would do the trick as well. (Hint: Try some vodka.) Plus, now my pants smell like juniper berries. Winning!

  10. Diane says:

    Amazing! Rubbing alcohol worked immediately on a very expensive orange dress! My daughter washed the dress, then came to me with tears hoping I could do something! I was worried, since she had washed the dress (had the stain set?), but out it came with alcohol and then an immediate wash in the washing machine with regular laundry detergent! Thank you for the great tip!

  11. Carol says:

    I have always used glycerin to get ink out of cloth, but this time forgot it was on my good quilt, washed it in cold water, and now am having trouble getting the stain out. So far tried hairspray, alcohol, Shout, Fels-Naptha, all kinds of detergents, ran out of glycerin – I guess I will have to go to pharmacy to get some tomorrow since the one close to my house stupidly closes at 9 pm and others are too far away, for it’s too hot here; wish I could sell my home in central Florida so I could go North – hubby is already there; lucky him away from Florida.

  12. Sherry says:

    I think this is a wonderful website to learn about your clothing instead of spoiling your clothing.

  13. Ashley says:

    If you get ball point ink on your denim, just take an old toothbrush, put hand sanitizer on it and scrub for a little bit. If you don’t have a toothbrush, you can use your nails if your nails are long enough and the stain is small enough. Works like a charm and doesn’t damage the fabric!

  14. Beryl says:

    Thank you so much for the tip to use hairspray to remove Biro stains. It worked like magic. It was on the bed sheet and we thought we would have to throw it away, but I checked online first and found your tip. Brilliant; thanks.

  15. Robert says:

    Hi everyone, I’ve just got a new suit for my job and it wasn’t cheap. After two days, I put a ballpoint pen in my inside pocket of the jacket and guess what, the pen leaked, covering my jacket pocket with blue ink stain. I can’t get rid of the ink. I need help.

  16. C C says:

    Many of my shirt pockets have ballpoint pen ink marks that are visible when wearing. Tried to remove them by soap liquids, but in vain. I need some tips to remove them please. Thanks.

  17. Marlene says:

    Thank you! I almost had a heart attack. I do clothing alterations and I have a black marking pen which irons off when I mark fabric, but I picked up a black Biro and marked on the purple shirt. OMG, but I looked up how to get Biro out of fabric and came across the hair spray and WOW, it worked. I sprayed and then rinsed it out. Thank you once again; so grateful!

  18. Ruth says:

    I got black Biro on my new red top; used the hairspray method. Had to do it a few times, but it came out.
    Thanks for the tip.

  19. Buddy says:

    I did this and was shocked. My friend walked by and made a line of ballpoint ink on my brand new designer jeans. Again, I was shocked how well this worked…
    1. Take 1 onion and slice it.
    2. Rub the stain well (I did both sides.)
    3. Leave for 15 minutes.
    4. Cut a thin slice off the onion to expose fresh flesh and repeat the above instruction.
    5. I repeated it for an hour.
    6. Put it into the wash as usual.
    There isn’t a drop of ink on my pink pants; nada, zip, none!!!!

  20. Jonathan says:

    I woke up this morning to remove my clothes from the drier. As I’m folding my clothes, I find a ballpoint ink pen stain on one of my favorite khaki pants. I didn’t know what to do; I nearly lost it as these are my favorite pants, so I tried the hairspray method. I used a toothbrush and a little bit of hand soap to brush the stain and just watched as it vanished. I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was like magic! I threw it in the washer and drier to finish it off, pulled it out of the drier, and there was no more stain. I didn’t think there was any hope for my pants, but a little bit of hairspray and handsoap and they are good as new. THANK YOU!

  21. Kumudu says:

    I used hand sanitizer and … it really worked! I never expected the stain to disappear so dramatically because is was so large. As advised, I washed the garment immediately after applying the hand sanitizer. Thank you for your valuable advice and tips.

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