How to Remove Ink Stains

Apr 15, 2020

Ink Stain

We've all had a similar experience of an unwanted stain getting on our shirt. It could be dirt, coffee, or food, but usually, it's not a huge deal. A minor inconvenience at most, but nothing to get hungover about: now let's take that experience and multiply it by 100.

Yes, we're talking about the dreaded leaking ink cartridge. Printer ink will leave you with a visible stain that you wish was just coffee. These stains can ruin your favorite white shirt or light color material in a matter of seconds. Clothing is one thing, but we've heard the horror stories of stained desks, rugs, and even couches. 

Printer ink stains just about everything it touches, including your skin. It can leave a pretty noticeable stain that might seem impossible to get out. But is there anything you can do when this situation happens to you? We have a few tips that may just do the trick!

Dabbing the ink stain to remove it

Act Immediately

This one should be a no brainer but still needs to be said. As soon as you notice an ink spill, you must tend to it immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get the stain out. Ink seeps into porous material such as clothing and furniture. As it dries, it will be much more difficult to remove entirely. Once the ink stain settles, it's pretty much an endgame when it comes to removing it completely. You can try all you want, but a settled ink stain always tends to leave a faintly visible mark no matter how hard you try to clean it. 

It is recommended that you soak a rag or paper towel in cold water as your primary method of cleaning. Yes, you read that right, cold water is the key to removing the stain efficiently. It may seem counterintuitive to use cold instead of hot water, but when it comes to ink removal, this is your best option. 

Hot water will actually make the stain settle faster, especially when applied to porous surfaces such as clothing. 

Gently dab the affected area with the rag to soak up the stains. Continue this process until the majority of the ink has soaked into the rag.

Do not scrub or scour the affected area with the wet rag; this will just make the stain even worse. Scrubbing allows the ink to settle deeper inside of the cloth or material and stay there for even longer. Scrubbing also may spread the stain to different areas and make the ink stain even more visible. 

Dabbing the stain allows you to soak up loose ink that has not yet settled within the material. Repeat the dabbing process until the printer ink is entirely out of your clothing. 

Hair spray to remove ink stain

The Secret Weapon in Removing Ink Stains

There seems to be an old wives' tale about a certain product that will remove printer ink stains from clothing. No, it's not any formal cleaning product or any sort of chemical concoction, but rather a simple cosmetic tool that is used for completely unrelated results. 

We're talking about hairspray; this little bottle might just be able to save your favorite shirt from being ruined. Hairspray tends to lift the ink stain from the fabric like magic after being applied and settling in. But what's in hairspray that allows it to get pesky ink stains out of clothing?

Funny enough, the hairspray really doesn't have much to do with the stain removal process. The real contender here is the isopropyl alcohol that is found in hairspray. Isopropyl alcohol eats aways and disintegrates water-based printer ink; this allows you to wash out and remove the stain much easier.

Isopropyl alcohol is safe to use on most materials and will not degrade or discolor any of the clothing that it is applied to. The best part about it? The alcohol quickly evaporates as well. Once the alcohol evaporates, simply go over the stain one more time with a cold-water rag to grab the excess ink, and the stain should be gone entirely.

Keep in mind that not all hairspray has these properties or even isopropyl alcohol in it. It's pretty ironic, as the higher-end hairsprays will not contain isopropyl alcohol in them or will even remotely work if you are using them to remove a printer ink stain. Most of the cheaper brand hair sprays use isopropyl alcohol in the mixture to cut costs and produce more. When in doubt, go to that bottom shelf and purchase the least expensive hairspray bottle you can find.

How to Remove Ink Stains From Your Hands

After removing that pesky printer ink stain from your shirt, you might notice that the problem hasn't vanished, but it's simply moved onto your hands. Your hands are probably the second thing that always gets stained when handling a leaky ink cartridge. With ink-stained hands, you're at risk of staining everything else that you touch. The best thing is to try and remove the ink from your hands first or at least let it settle before you touch anything else. 

The good news here is that printer ink is non-toxic and will not be hazardous to your health. 

Yes, the trusty bar of soap is your friend here. No hairspray is needed for removing ink stains from your hands. Although it may be tedious to be scrubbing your hands continually, it will eventually come off. If the stain persists after a hefty amount of handwashing, there are a few faster methods that are sure to clean your hands and have them sparkling again. 

Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is the easiest way to get those pesky stains off of your hand as well. Apply a generous amount of rubbing alcohol to the affected area and start scrubbing. Although it is a less common household item, tea tree oil is also an effective agent when it comes to removing unwanted stains from your skin. 


Removing ink stains from clothing may seem like an impossible task, but if you act fast enough and apply the correct methods of cleaning, you'll be able to rid yourself of that pesky stain. Leaky cartridges can happen from a multitude of reasons, whether it be a mishandled, defective, or even an old cartridge. Some outlets offer ink cartridge refill kits, which could be very messy if you're not careful. When shopping for cheap printer ink cartridges, it's always important to pick a reputable source.

Luckily for you, here at, the quality of our cartridges is our number one priority. Our remanufactured and compatible cartridges are top-of-line products that function exactly like our name-brand cartridges. We carry discount ink cartridges for the majority of big brand printers such as HP, Dell, Brother, Canon, and so many more.