How to Remove Ink Stains From Carpet

What should you do when a pen breaks?  Or you forget to take a pen out of your pocket before you sit on the couch? It is pretty easy to wash ink off of hands, but what happens when ink gets on your carpet? Whether the ink is from a pen, marker, or receipt we’ll share the best ways to get ink stains out of carpet.

As with all cleaning techniques, do a spot removal test on an inconspicuous area of the carpet or upholstery to make sure the spot cleaning does not fade, stain or damage.

Why Does Ink Stain?

Ink stains can be more difficult to eradicate than other stains because ink is literally made of dyes intended to stain something. Ink can be either liquid or paste and water based or oil based.In addition to dyes, ink often contains:

  • Solvents
  • Fluorescents
  • Pigments
  • Resins
  • Lubricants
  • Surfactants
  • Particulate matter

Types Of Ink Stains

There are a few different types of ink that create different kinds of ink stains:

  • Water-based ink
  • Permanent ink
  • Ballpoint ink 

Each type of stain from ink requires a different approach to remove it, so be sure to consider the surface you’re working with before you try anything.

How To Remove Ball Point Ink Stains From Carpet

If you have natural-fiber carpet, follow these steps to remove the ink stain:

  1. Purchase two cans of inexpensive lacquer hair spray - you may need this much hair spray depending on how quickly the stain disappears.
  2. Spray the hairspray onto the ink stain to soften the ink.
  3. Using a clean white cloth or towel, blot the lacquer. Do not scrub! Continue blotting the stain until the ink disappears.
  4. Allow the area is dry, then hand-brush the affected area and vacuum.

How To Remove Permanent Ink Stains From Carpet

Permanent inks include Sharpies and gel pens

  1. Dab the ink stain with rubbing alcohol to moisten it. Blot, don’t rub.
  2. Continue lightly blotting the ink stain from the carpet.  The ink will begin to transfer to the towel.
  3. Once the area is clean and stain-free, dab the area with a towel moistened with lukewarm water. 
  4. If this method doesn’t remove all of the permanent ink stain from your carpet, repeat the above steps using hairspray (note that these methods can dramatically reduce the appearance of the ink stain, but some permanent markers are unfortunately quite permanent!)

How To Remove Water-Based Ink Stains From Carpet

Water based ink stains include rollerball pens and washable markers.

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with lukewarm water.
  2. Dab a towel into water, then blot the ink stain with the towel without rubbing.
  3. Repeat this process until stain has disappeared.

By acting quickly and using the right cleaning methods, you can remove most types of ink from most surfaces and fabric.  Need more stain and cleaning tips?  See the COIT Stain Guide and the COIT blog. For videos on how to remove ink stains from carpet click here.