How to Remove Ink Stains From Carpet: A Step by Step Guide

By
Gladys K. Connelly
As a HouseKeeping Technical Writer, Gladys actively enjoys writing guides and tips about housekeeping for Thehousewire's audience. She's a professional housekeeping specialist with just shy of 9 years' experience to boast. That, combined with seven years prior experience in teaching, helps her create content that is both captivating and insightful.
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Updated April 12, 2022

Save ink for letters or tattoos -- not your carpet!

How to Remove Ink Stains From Carpet: A Step by Step Guide

Did you spill ink on your carpet? Did your kids draw with a pen or marker on your rug?

Ink stains can be tricky to remove from rugs or fabrics. And the method you use will depend on whether it’s water-based ink, oil-based ink, permanent ink, or ballpoint ink.

But don’t worry! Here, we’ll walk you through how to get all of these out of your carpet.

So grab your supplies, and let’s get started!

How to Get Water-Based Ink Out of Carpet

  • Apply a water barrier and dab cold water onto the ink stain with a clean cloth.
  • Dry with a new cloth.
  • Mix dish soap with warm water and apply the mixture with a new cloth.
  • Rinse and dry the carpet.
  • Try a solvent like rubbing alcohol if the soap didn’t work.
  • Rinse off the chemical and let the carpet dry.

Before You Start

Before you start trying to remove ink stains, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Identify Your Ink

First, you need to identify the type of ink stain you have. This is probably the most important step because it will determine how you clean the ink stain.

There are several different types of ink, and all of them need a different cleaning method. For example, tattoo ink stains are very different from powder ink or printer ink stains, and both of these are different from ink pen stains.

One common type of ink stain is from different types of pens. Fountain pens, gel pens, and Rollerball pens all use water-based inks.

However, other pens, such as ballpoints or permanent markers, use oil-based ink.

Start with a dry solvent

So, sometimes it can be tricky to know what type of ink stain you have. Therefore, if you don’t know, start with a dry solvent.

But, if you tried to clean the stain with water first, let the carpet dry. Since water prevents dry solvent from working properly, the fabric or carpet must be 100% dry before you use it.

2. Protect Yourself and Your Carpet

Another very important step is to protect both yourself and your carpet from harm.

For yourself, make sure you’ve got good airflow to ventilate your space. And always wear gloves to protect your skin!

For your carpet, there are a couple of steps you need to follow.

First, try to use only a small amount of cleaner, and never put it directly on the carpet. This will help protect the carpet’s backing.

And second, always test your cleaner in an inconspicuous area. This way, you’ll know if the chemicals will discolor the carpet before you spread it everywhere.

Also, check out this handy list of tips​​ before you start working!

How to Get Rid of Water-Based Ink Stains

Equipment

Gather these items, and then we can get started removing water-based inks!

*: like Stain Zone Oxidizing Stain Remover
**: Acetone, Rubbing Alcohol (99%) or denatured alcohol (also called methylated spirits), WD-40, or another naphtha-based product.

Instructions

1. Make a Water Barrier

To remove ink from carpet, the first thing you should do is to make a water barrier. This will keep the ink from spreading when you use a stain remover.

For this, you can use a solvent or plain water.

So, apply a bit of water in a ring around the stain, to help keep it from spreading.

2. Add Water

For this next step, use a little bit of cold water and put it on the stain.

You can drizzle it or use a spray bottle, but be very careful not to add too much. Because you don’t want to soak your rug!

Next, use your fresh cloth or towel to gently blot the ink stain.

And make sure you work gently and don’t agitate or scrub the carpet. If you do, you can push the ink deeper into the rug.

Then, use paper towels or a new cloth to dry the spot. Again, just gently dab it, don’t rub.

On the other hand, you could use your regular or wet-dry vacuum to dry the area.

If your ink stain is gone, you’re done. And you don’t need to move on to the next step.

3. Use Dish Soap

If the stain remains, mix 1 cup of lukewarm water with ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Then, dip a clean cloth or paper towel into the mixture, and gently dab it onto the ink stain.

Next, rinse the soap off and then dab the spot dry. To remove even more water, place a wad of paper towels on the ink stain and weigh it down.

Finally, allow the spot to air dry completely. Then, use your vacuum to pick up any residue and fix the carpet fibers.

If this worked to remove ink from carpet, don’t move on to the next step.

4. Choose the Solvent

If the above steps didn’t remove ink from your carpet, it’s time to try a different cleaning solution: solvent. This works very well for stubborn stains.

There are three different dry solvents​​ you can choose from, and they will all work. But they have different pros and cons:

  • Paint ink grease remover: This one is a little expensive, and it needs some time to sit on the ink stains. However, if you get a gel version, you don’t need to worry about hurting the backing of your carpet.
  • Acetone: This is a great option because it’s cheap and works quickly on lots of types of ink. However, you can’t use it on fabric or carpet that contains acetate. That’s because acetone will melt this fiber! Also, you shouldn’t use it on wool, rayon, or silk.
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Denatured Alcohol: Both denatured and rubbing alcohol are cheap solutions and work well, but they need a little elbow grease. So, you will need to work on the spot multiple times until the stain disappears.
  • WD-40: This lubricant contains Stoddard solvent (mineral spirit) as the main ingredient, making it an efficient stain remover. However, it also contains mineral oil. And while most of its ingredients will just evaporate, the mineral oil will stay behind. This makes it extremely hard to rinse out. So WD-40 isn’t our first solvent choice – even if it works.

5. Dissolve the Stain With the Solvent

First, make sure your ink stains are 100% dry. This is really important because if there’s any water on the carpet, the solvent won’t work.

Water forms a barrier that the solvent can’t pass through. So, if you tried removing ink stains with water first, wait for the carpet to dry completely.

Then, add a little solvent to a damp cloth. And lightly dab the ink stain.

Next, stop working for about 15 minutes to let the solvent work on the stain.

After, add a little more cleaning solution and agitate the fibers. For this step, you can use your bone scraper or the solid part of a black dry-side brush.

When you’ve finished, dab the stained area to get rid of the chemical residue.

Repeat

You can repeat this step multiple times on the stain. The number of times it takes to remove ink will depend on what type of solvent you chose.

6. Rinse Out the Solvent and Dry the Carpet

Once you’ve finished with your solvent, you need to rinse your carpet carefully. In particular, be careful with the paint ink grease remover because it can leave bits of chemical behind on your carpet.

For this step, read the instructions on the label of your product. And give the chemical at least 5-10 minutes to work on the residue, so that it will all come up.

Afterward, use soapy warm water to fully wash the spot. If you don’t remove all of the solvent, it can sometimes leave a ring.

Finally, let your carpet air dry. Then you can run your vacuum cleaner over the stain to fix the carpet fibers.

How to Get Rid of Water-Based Ink Stains

Equipment

There are just a few tools you’ll need for removing ink.

Instructions

1. Apply a Water Barrier

Just like for water-based ink, you need to start with a water barrier. This prevents the stain from getting worse when you remove ink from carpet.

2. Add a Solvent to the Ink Stain

Now, it’s time to pick your solvent. And again, you have different options:

  • D-Limonene: This is a great option for oil-based ink, like ballpoint pen ink or permanent inks. Also, it won’t hurt the carpet backing, but it can be pricey.
  • Paint Ink Grease Remover: A product like Bridgeton dissolves pretty much any type of ink. And if you get the gel version, you don’t have to worry about hurting the carpet backing.
  • Odorless Mineral Spirits: This is a cheaper option than the other two, and it will also rinse off more easily. However, it’s a liquid, so you need to be careful not to soak the carpet.

3. Apply and Agitate

After you’ve picked your solvent, add some on a new cloth. Then dab the solvent onto the ink stain.

Next, wait for 15 minutes for the solvent to work on the stain. Afterward, use your scraper or the back of your brush to agitate the fibers.

4. Rinse and Let Air Dry

Once the solvent has worked its magic, make sure you rinse all of it off. This is one of the most important steps because d-Limonene and PIG can leave chemical residue.

For this, follow the instructions on the label. And make sure you continue the rinsing process until nothing oily remains.

Finally, allow the spot to air dry. And when it’s done, you can use your vacuum to pick up any residue that’s still there and fix the carpet’s look.

FAQ

For more answers to commonly asked questions about removing ink from carpet, keep reading!

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Can Oxiclean Remove Ink From Carpet?

No! Don’t use Oxiclean for removing ink. To get rid of ink stains, you need a solvent.

However, Oxiclean is made of sodium percarbonate, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium carbonate. And these will not work as solvents.

In addition, any “oxy” products can affect the dye color. So professional carpet cleaners and manufacturers say you shouldn’t use them.

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Will Hairspray Get Ink Out of Carpet?

It depends. If your hairspray has alcohol in it, yes.

Since alcohol is a solvent, it will help you remove ink. But if there’s no alcohol in the hairspray, it won’t work because there’s no solvent.

As well, keep in mind that many hairsprays use little or no alcohol now. Since it dries out hair, manufacturers have stopped using it.

So, if you want to use hairspray, look for one with alcohol in it.

But this should only be a last-ditch effort. It’s a lot easier to find and use an actual solvent!

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