How to Remove Pen Ink From Clothes - Using One Unusual Product!

2 Materials
Want to know how to easily remove pen ink from clothing? Check this out!! I was getting pen ink all over my jacket while shopping and crossing items off of my list. Not to panic though b/c I know how to easily remove it!
Now even though I was marking up my new coat with pen ink, I DID NOT PANIC! I know the magic solution of how to remove pen ink from clothing! The answer? HAIRSPRAY!
Get an aerosol spray bottle of hairspray and sprtiz a healthy amount on the ink spot.
Get a damp sponge and rub the hairspray into the ink stain. I believe that the alcohol in the hairspray is the solvent that breaks down the ink and makes it disappear.
Here is my coat after just a minute of spraying with hairspray and rubbing out the ink. You may need to do this a couple of times for the ink to fully disappear.
Here is the fabric after the hairspray and water from the sponge has dried. Now my coat is dry and ink free! Pretty cool, right??
I used to love knowing this trick when I was still teaching high schoolers. Girls would always be so upset if they got pen ink on their shirts or pants. I'd come running out of my back room with a giant bottle of hairspray and save the day. :) :) :)
What other ways do you know how to get ink out of clothing? What other fun stain remover techniques do you use?
Check out this quick video showing removing ink with hairspray in action!

Suggested materials:

  • Aerosol hairspray
  • Sponge

Maura White
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  10 questions
  • Rebecca Bruce Rebecca Bruce on Jul 22, 2016
    Do you know if it works on items that have been washed and dried?
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 22, 2016
      I personally have not tried that - but if you do, come back and let us know!
    • Linnie Meier Linnie Meier on Jul 25, 2016
      Yes it does! I use to work at a Drs office and I wore a white scrub jacket. I always ended up with pen marks and sometimes I'd miss a spot. Next wash, I would spray and the ink would come out.
  • Terrie Terrie on Jul 25, 2016
    I wonder If this would work on non cloth purses? I have several good Ones that I have managed to somehow get ink on, but nothing I've tried will take it off.
    • Johnchip Johnchip on Jul 25, 2016
      Get the one closest to the 'goin' to Goodwill' box, and give it a try. I imagine the material is the key, and all will vary.
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 25, 2016
      Try it in an inconspicuous place and let us know what happens! I bet it will help!
    • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Jul 25, 2016
      I've used this method for years, works best with an inexpensive hair spray and use it as soon as possible. And yes, it can be sprayed and washed out later. I've never tried it on leather or suede can only imagine the hair spray would only add an additional stain.
  • Anny Palanzi Anny Palanzi on Jul 25, 2016
    do you have to spray on the hairspray immediately after you get the inkstain? or can it wait till you get home even if it may be an hour or so later?
    • Tco6539551 Tco6539551 on Jul 25, 2016
      When my son was little he got hold af an ink pen at a friend's house and marked all over one of the cushions on her couch. It was several days before I could get back to her house with my bottle of hair spray and remove it. After I finished treating it, no one could ever tell which cushion had been marked on. This was a regular ink pen, not any kind of marker.
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 25, 2016
      Wow - I guess after Tcotten's response, we know it can sit for a long time!
    • I've even used hairspray after it's been through a wash & dry & it worked. This is an old nurses' trick from when we wore white.
    • Anny Palanzi Anny Palanzi on Jul 25, 2016
      that's great to know, people. thanks so much.
    • Kay Kay on Jul 25, 2016
      Been doing this over 40 years and yes Aquanet was the best because of high alcohol content.
    • Brigitte Brigitte on Jul 25, 2016
      I've been using hairspray to get ink stains out since I was in HS. It works, even on stains that have been through the washer and dryer already. Get the cheapest one you can find, White Rain works well, Aquanet does, too. The cheaper the better!
    • Carey Carey on Jul 25, 2016
      Years ago, I washed my 2 yr olds 100% Polyester (this was KEY) white suit coat and when i took it out of the dryer, was dismayed to find that it was splotched all over with blue ballpoint ink. I decided that nothing I might do could hurt it any worse, so I soaked it in bleach water for a while. Went back and it was completely white. I ran it through the washer and it was like new. He wore it until he grew out of it, 2 nephews wore it after that, and it was passed on to my sisters friend. I don't know how many others it may have been used by but it certainly went through a number of children after that incident!
  • Mon7914937 Mon7914937 on Jul 25, 2016
    Will it work on leather? I have a beige leather jacket with some pen marks! Thanks in advance!
    • Debraathanas Debraathanas on Jul 25, 2016
      I have used the aquanet hairspray removal method since college (in my 20's) in art school...not new but old. I am 58 now for a leather it such as purse or garment use q-tips instead and what ever you do no water. Spray the q-tip then gently rub and turn the q-tip so as not to spread the ink but lift it. Keep going until there is no more ink. It might leave a spot on suede just take a tooth brush try to lift the grain back up. With leather the idea is the smaller the area you work the better,
    • Cheryl Cheryl on Jul 25, 2016
      An eraser will also work on leather and suede.
    • Mon7914937 Mon7914937 on Jul 25, 2016
      Omg thanks!
    • Lezley Barth Lezley Barth on Jul 25, 2016
      On leather or suede, I try this first to prevent any type of ring from a liquid.. Place a piece of scotch tape (see-through) over the ink, gently rub the end of a blunt object over the area where ink is. The goal is to lift the ink by having it stick to the tape. Remove the strip of tape and see if it removed any of the ink. Repeat the process until it is gone. I've saved a number of items, both leather and suede, with this process and it leaves no tell-tale ring! You can always use a soft brush on suede if you need to fluff up the nap .
    • Sandy Hartnett Sandy Hartnett on Jul 26, 2016
      Bianaca breath spray. Spray on q tip and lightly go over ink on leather. As soon as ink disappears. ...stop, because color will come off o your leather also. My 4000 dollar leather custom sectional salesman told me this secret! So don't tell anyone...ok? Lol. Good luck...hugs
  • Ashley Ashley on Jul 25, 2016
    What brand of hair spray do you suggest? Oil-free or can you narrow it down? Please and thank you?
    • Katie Katie on Jul 25, 2016
      The cheap stuff with alcohol. We kept a can of AquaNet around for when my Mom would wash pins in her scrub pockets.
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 26, 2016
      I agree with Katie - I've used multiple brands but AquaNet is great (and cheap!)
    • Michelle J Hall Johnson Michelle J Hall Johnson on Jul 26, 2016
      I agree too. AquaNet or any spray without oils or conditioners. Also you can spray and toss in washer. My boss washed a white top with a pen. Ink all over. It took 2 or 3 washes, each after hair spray application, but I got it ALL out.
    • Mary Mary on Jul 26, 2016
      It's the alcohol that does it, so any kind that has alcohol. But the cheaper the better...right??
    • Joan Joan on Jul 27, 2016
      Aqua Net works best
  • Martha Martha on Jul 25, 2016
    I used hairspray some years back to remove ballpoint pen ink from the face of a vinyl doll. You have to be careful, as it also takes off the doll's "makeup." You didn't say what type of pen you were using. Does hairspray work on felt tip ink? BTW, a friend of mine used a baby wipe to remove a mustard stain from a silk blouse. It worked like a charm. I've since used baby wipes and wet ones to remove various types of food stains.
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 25, 2016
      I've used various brands of hairspray on various types of ball point pens and it always works. Good tip on baby wipes! :)
  • Lad8514105 Lad8514105 on Jul 25, 2016
    What about black sharpie on a white comforter ????
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 26, 2016
      That's a scary combo! Give it a try!
    • Michelle Klassen Michelle Klassen on Jul 26, 2016
      Some people have good success with removing permanent ink with tea tree oil. I have removed it from melamine, not sure about fabric.
    • Mary Mary on Jul 26, 2016
      Check Pinterest. I'm pretty sure I've seen a solution to that problem on there.
    • Patti Smith Patti Smith on Jul 28, 2016
      Remove permanent net Sharpe with an dry erase marker, any color. I use it a lot in my kindergarten class.
    • Lad8514105 Lad8514105 on Jul 28, 2016
      I am a teacher as well, I know that works on a dry erase board....... But on a white cotton ruled bedspread??
    • Patti Smith Patti Smith on Jul 29, 2016
      I have used it on students folders, notrbooks, poster board, wall activities and a mark on a dress. Not on a bedspread.. Try it on a scrap of fabric and see what it does.
    • Rene Williams Rene Williams on Aug 22, 2016
      Does this hairspray/alcohol work on the gel pen ink?
    • Mrs P Mrs P on Aug 22, 2016
      I have used hair spray to remove sharpies and ink for over 25 years thought everyone new about it., my aunt told me about it over 30 years ago to get a black sharpie out of a light cream color sofa., it's works !!!! Make sure you soak it good with hair spray., do blotting method to draw out of fabric each time you spray., after you think you got it out lots of soap with cold water ., rinse by hand, if necessary do hair spray again., do not put in the dryer unless you can see you got it all out., if it's all out wash and rinse by hand first., then regular wash., double check it make sure no marks are anywheres before putting in dryer., it does work I've done it on everything.
  • Kathy Spaulding Kathy Spaulding on Jul 28, 2016
    Would rubbing alcohol by itself work possibly??? I often forget to take pens out of my scrubs...
    • Maura White Maura White on Jul 29, 2016
      I believe it would! There are others that have commented here that say alcohol alone works great!
    • Heidi Heidi on Jul 31, 2016
      The best alcohol product is denatured alcohol you get at the hardware store. Use a blotting method. I used it on a green shirt (pen in the dryer) and it did not affect the color of the shirt and took out all the pen. It took awhile.
    • Kathy Spaulding Kathy Spaulding on Jul 31, 2016
      Awesome. Thank you for the info. :-)
    • Heidi Heidi on Aug 01, 2016
      Forgot to mention - when the material gets really wet, hang it to dry and start again. One cloth under the stain and one on top to blot. Rinse/wash your bottom and top cloths to get the excess stain out while your shirt dries.
    • Theresa Heuchert Theresa Heuchert on Aug 18, 2016
      I have also removed ink or permenant marker from items with hand sanitizer which also has rubbing alcohol in it.
  • Mechelle Adams-Flowers Mechelle Adams-Flowers on Aug 18, 2016
    I wonder if it could be used on Microfiber furniture?
  • Denise Wicke Nagle Denise Wicke Nagle on Aug 28, 2016
    Will it work on white leather?


Join the conversation

3 of 72 comments
  • Cheri Campbell Cheri Campbell on Aug 04, 2016
    I have used this hairspray trick for years. Just spray directly on ink with towel under the garment stain. Waited a few seconds and blotted until stain started to dissolve and the ink wipes off easily.
  • Linda porter Linda porter on Sep 14, 2016
    Other marks come off with hydrogen peroxide . Put it on dry and let it sit. You'll see it working .