How to Remove Ink Stains from Plastic


Carolyn asked: I have put schedules, etc. under my clear, semi-soft plastic desk pad. Some of the ink has transferred onto the plastic. How do I remove the print without damaging the clarity of the desk pad?

Plastic is a soft, porous material that can absorb the dyes and materials it comes in contact with. There are a variety of plastics, but the ink removal methods remain the same. Here are a few methods along with helpful tips to make your ink stains a distant memory.

Using an All Purpose Cleaner and Ammonia

You Will Need:

  • All purpose cleaner
  • Ammonia
  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Soft cloths
  • Cotton balls

Steps to Remove the Ink:

  1. Spray the ink stained plastic with an all purpose cleaner.
  2. Wipe away with a clean cloth.
  3. If the stain remains, moisten a soft cloth or cotton ball with ammonia.
  4. Lay it on the ink stain for a few minutes, then wipe away.
  5. Wash the area with soapy water to remove any cleaning residue.
  6. Dry with a soft cloth.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloths
  • Cotton balls

Steps to Remove the Ink:

  1. Rubbing alcohol is effective in removing many ink stains without damaging the surface.
  2. Moisten a cotton ball or soft cloth with the rubbing alcohol.
  3. Rub it over the surface of the stain until the ink is removed. There is no need to apply excessive pressure, just continual rubbing will remove the ink.
  4. Once removed, dry with a soft cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • There are plastic erasers available at art supply stores that can also be used to erase ink from plastic surfaces. Ensure the eraser is white when purchasing.
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are effective at removing stains from a variety of surfaces. Simply moisten the sponge with clean water and rub it over the ink stain. The sponge will lift and remove the stain. Wipe clean with a dry cloth.


  1. Maeley says:

    Thank you! My little sister wrote on my plastic dividers and I thought they were ruined and nothing could be done! I tried using the Magic Eraser and was so relieved. Thank you again very much!!

  2. Jessica says:

    This does not work. I tried this on my daughter’s Littlest Pet Shop and it did not work one bit.

  3. Tracy says:

    As much as I love the Magic Eraser…and I do…it does not work for this at all. I was excited when I read this and thought, “duh…why didn’t I think of that!” Because it doesn’t work, that’s why. Maybe if you have fresh ink or something, but we’re talking about dried up ink here, soaked into plastic…anyone have something for that!? :)

  4. Sash says:

    Thank you. Just bought a new white back cover for my phone and somehow ink has got on there. Was annoyed. Used the alcohol rub and it came off straight away with ease. THANKS!

  5. Vivek says:

    Thank you for your suggestion. Even though the Magic Eraser doesn’t work, alcohol rub is working… :-)

  6. Mary says:

    Try hairspray on plastic or alcohol wipes. Both work well on plastic.

  7. Blake says:

    I had broken a pen and touched my fridge after thinking I had gotten it all off. Needless to say I didn’t and red ink got on the WHITE fridge. So, I used some nail polish remover. Worked great! I wiped it off with some cotton balls with the nail polish remover and it came off. There was a little red left after the first wipe, but a little extra wiping took the rest off.

  8. Meet S says:

    When my phone got ink spots and some dirt on it, I used some petrol and a soft cloth to clean it; worked so great and my cover became like a shiny metal.

  9. Carol says:

    For soft PVC, rubbing with a piece of bread works really well.

  10. Margot C says:

    What on earth is “all purpose cleaner”?

  11. Melanie says:

    According to the EPA, “An All-purpose cleaner is a kind of cleaner which can be used for many different kinds of clean-up jobs around the house. All-purpose cleaners are used to clean windows, mop floors, or to clean kitchen and other appliances in your house.” What that usually means is that it is gentle enough to be used on a wide variety of surfaces, but it is strong enough to kill bacteria, lift dirt, lift some surface stains, etc. Some examples are Lysol All Purpose Cleaner or Seventh Generation All Purpose Natural Cleaner.
    Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency – All-Purpose Cleaner

  12. Think says:

    I have some ink stains on a thermoplastic polyurethane membrane material, similar to the consistency of a bandaid. How can I remove the ink without damaging it? Alcohol, acetone, etc. cause it to wrinkle and this will not do. Help me please!!

  13. Melanie says:

    Here are some other things you can try:
    – Baking soda (mixed with water to make a paste)
    – All purpose cleaner
    – Dish liquid
    – Magic Eraser
    – Commercial ink removers, such as Lift Off

    Source: How to Remove Ink Stains from Cotton Fabrics
    Source: How to Remove Ballpoint Ink from Vinyl

  14. Dave says:

    Wow, hairspray actually blew the pen marks off my daughters Little Pet Shop toy!!!

  15. Melanie says:

    OMG! I had gotten some invisible ink on my brand new 40$ phone case. 😤😤😤😱 I was like, it’s ok, but then it started to show up; ahhhh. Looked on here and found my answer and it worked. Thanks so much.

  16. Rachel says:

    I have a watch band and wore gloves, and the dye rubbed onto the light blue and now it’s purple; nothing worked. Any ideas?

  17. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Dye Transfer from a Rubber Watchband.

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