How to Remove Indelible Ink from Carpet


JB asked: How do I remove indelible ink from white berber carpet? Our kids dropped whiteboard’s dry eraser after using indelible clothing marker on the board and erasing it. The carpet was blackened in unsightly spots in two separate locations. Carpet cleaner could not remove with his normal solvents.

If your carpet has been doused with indelible ink, you realize the challenge that lies ahead of you. Indelible ink is designed to be permanent and not removable. While good for drawing on clothing and other permanent designs, it makes for a nasty spill to clean up. Here are some steps that can be taken to remove the ink and restore your carpet.

Rubbing Alcohol Method

You Will Need:

  • Soft cloths
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton balls/swabs (for small stains)
  • Carpet shampoo
  • Water

Steps to Remove the Ink:

  1. Rubbing alcohol is one product that can loosen the grip that indelible ink has on the item it has been placed on.
  2. Moisten a clean, soft cloth with rubbing alcohol.
  3. Blot the ink-stained area.
  4. Switch the cloth to a clean section frequently to avoid reapplying the ink and making the stain larger.
  5. If the stain is small, treat the area with a cotton ball or cotton swab. This will give you a precise application method that will prevent spreading of the stain.
  6. Continue blotting with clean potions of the cloth, applying additional rubbing alcohol as needed.
  7. Once the ink is removed, clean the area with water and a small amount of soap. This will remove any remaining rubbing alcohol.
  8. Rinse the area by blotting with a cloth and clean water.
  9. Allow the area to air dry completely.

Additional Cleaning Method

You Will Need:

  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Dry Cleaning Solvent
  • Detergent
  • Ammonia
  • Soft cloths
  • Water
  • Bucket or small dish

Steps to Remove the Ink:

  1. Begin by moistening a cloth with nail polish remover. Polish remover comes with acetone or without. The type with acetone will be more effective, but can bleach colored carpeting.
  2. Blot the moistened cloth onto the ink. Use caution not to spread the stain.
  3. As the ink is removed, you will see it transferring to the cloth. Change to a clean section of the cloth frequently to avoid reapplying or spreading the stain.
  4. When no more ink is removed with the nail polish remover, move onto the next step.
  5. Moisten a cloth with dry cleaning solvent and apply it to the stain the same as above.
  6. Continue blotting and reapplying until no more ink transfers to the cloth.
  7. If there is still ink present, mix one cup of water with one teaspoon of mild, non-bleach detergent.
  8. Moisten a clean, soft cloth with the mixture and blot the remaining stain.
  9. Continue blotting until no more ink transfers to the cloth.
  10. The final application is ammonia. Mix one tablespoon ammonia with one cup of water.
  11. Moisten another clean, soft cloth with the mixture and blot it over the remaining stain.
  12. Continue blotting until the stain is removed.
  13. When the stain is gone, blot again with the soapy water to remove any cleaning residue.
  14. Rinse by blotting with a cloth moistened with clean water.
  15. Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth to remove the remaining liquid.
  16. Allow the area to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the carpet is white, hydrogen peroxide or bleach could be used (diluted first with water) to remove the color from the carpet fibers – but be careful and test it out someplace inconspicuous first.
  • Some of the cleaning products used are flammable and should be kept away from flames or sources of high heat.
  • Rubbing alcohol can be drying on the skin. If you are working on a large area, wear protective gloves to protect your hands.
  • Work in a well ventilated area to prevent becoming nauseous from any fumes.
  • If the stain is removed before all applications are complete, there is no need to continue with the additional applications. Simply wash away any cleaning residue, rinse with water and allow the area to dry.


  1. My son broke a pen in the car. The ink was all over the velour seat and the back of drivers seat. I had a stain remover book that said to use hair spray and a damp sponge. Spray the hair spray over the area, and wipe off with a damp sponge. Repeat until it’s gone. Miraculously, it went away! It cleaned it off the vinyl part too.

  2. A pen exploded in my new minivan once and I was beside myself trying to get it off the seats (leather/vinyl) and door panel. My mother told me to use denatured alcohol on a soft, dry cloth. I did so, and it came off beautifully. I was afraid of discoloration, but worried needlessly, as the effected areas, after treatment, looked as though nothing had happened to them.

    I didn’t try hair spray, but will keep that remedy in mind for any future spills.

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