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Removing Ink Stains
from Your Carpet

How to Remove Ink Stains from Carpet

Important: We provide general advice as a courtesy. Ink stains are a challenge to remove, and One of a Kind Pros recommends professional assistance to remove ink stains.

If you are in the Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Texas area, please call One of a Kind Pros.
We cannot be responsible or liable for any damage that may result from any do-it-yourself carpet cleaning or spot removal procedure. You do so at your own risk. Thank you for understanding.

If you accidentally drop a fountain pen, or step on a ballpoint pen in your living room, and the ink oozes out onto your carpet, you might think that the carpet is permanently stained, especially if your carpet is a light color. It is only natural to feel worried.

The encouraging news is that it may be possible to remove the ink stain from your carpet by taking certain actions. We'll take look in this article at products and techniques you can use to try to remove the ink stain.

Different Types of Ink

It's important to know what type of ink you're dealing with, because each ink type is chemically different. This way you can choose the right cleaning solution to be able to loosen the ink from the carpet fibers.


What ink is commonly made from:

bullet point ink blot A water-soluble dye or pigment

bullet point ink blot A stabilizing polymer

bullet point ink blot A liquid solvent, like water, alcohol, or petrochemicals

bullet point ink blot Additives, like silicates or glycerides


Let's take a look at some types of ink and their chemical properties.

Water-Based Ink

You'll find water-based inks in gel pens, washable markers, and rollerball pens. This type of ink usually has a water-soluble dye.

Water-based inks are generally the easiest to remove from carpeting. You can just use some warm water and a small amount of dish soap to remove the ink stain. Just remember, do not scrub your carpet. Scrubbing can damage the carpet's fibers permanently.

Ballpoint Pen Ink

Act quickly! Ballpoint pen ink can be a challenge, because it contains fatty acids and oils that are used to lubricate the ballpoint tip and to help it to dry quickly.

The quick drying time is a problem if it gets on your carpet. If you can't clean it up right away, you will likely need to call One of a Kind Pros as soon as possible to mitigate the staining affects of this type of ink.

Permanent Marker Ink

Permanent ink that you typically find in Sharpies and some permanent whiteboard gel pens contain pigments that may cause stubborn stains. These inks are also quick-drying.

Removing these stains requires a lot of patience and work, even when using denatured alcohol (see discussion below).

Fortunately, permanent marker ink spills are not very common. Unlike ballpoint and fountain pens, Sharpies and whiteboard markers can't open, and the ink will only flow out if you break these pens.

Printer Ink and Toner

Typically, the two types of printer ink include a water-based liquid ink and a powdered toner.

It's easy to clean the water-based printer inks from carpet using water and a little mild dish soap, or you might try a mixture of cornstarch and milk (see below).

However, if you have spilled the powdered ink variety on your carpet, you should start by vacuuming up as much of the powder as you can. Then, you can clean the remaining ink left on the fibers by using one of the liquid solutions that we will discuss below.


The "First-Aid" for
Removing Ink from Carpet

The sections below take an in-depth look at each cleaning option for removing ink from your carpets.

Plain Water

Plain water is an excellent solvent for dissolving dye-based inks. However, oils don't dissolve in water, so you will have difficulty removing ballpoint pen ink, because they often contain oily, fatty acids.

Use hot water to dissolve inks from gel pens or washable markers. Adding a little bit of mild dish soap will make the water more effective at removing water-based inks from your carpet.

Shaving Cream

Yes, shaving cream. The emulsifiers in shaving cream can effectively remove some types of ink stains, including water-based inks, the liquid type of printer ink, and the remaining powdered printer ink/toner after vacuuming.

Shaving cream also removes some inks containing certain stabilizing polymers — for example, a non-permanent Sharpie ink stain.

Try spraying the shaving cream over the ink stain, and then blot the shaving cream into the carpet fibers using a clean, wet sponge. Then wring out the sponge, and repeat until the ink stain is gone.

Dish Soap

Dish soap is very effective for removing water-based ink stains. Mix 1 part dish soap with 1 part hot water and apply the solution to the stain. Using a clean, wet sponge, blot and dab the carpet fibers to loosen the ink particles.

If you have a stubborn stain, and the dish soap isn't working well for the type of ink, the stain removal might require a professional. Please call One of a Kind Pros.

The Milk & Cornstarch Mix

Cornstarch can be used as an ink stain remover, thanks to its absorbing capabilities. The milk and cornstarch mix is ideal for dye-based inks.

Add a few spoons of cornstarch to a bowl, then add milk to the powder while stirring until you have a thick paste. Apply the cornstarch paste to the ink stain and leave it overnight. The next day, blot with white cloths or a sponge to remove the paste, and hopefully the ink too.

Isopropyl Alcohol

An alcohol-based solvent is a possible solution for removing inks that contain oil-based pigments or other oils, such as ballpoint pen ink or some permanent inks.

Apply the rubbing alcohol to the stain, then very gently massage the area with a clean, wet sponge. Avoid aggressive scrubbing. This could cause physical damage to carpet fibers. If the ink stain is dry, you will likely need to repeat the process a few times.


WD-40 has an interesting formula that may help remove inks that are not water-soluble.

Spray the ink stain with the WD-40, then agitate the fibers gently, using a sponge. Remove the mixture buildup by blotting with a pure white paper towel.

After cleaning the stain, there might be some remaining discoloration. Clean the area using a warm dish soap solution.

If in doubt about any of these solutions, please call us at One of a Kind Pros for professional assistance.


Removing Ink from Carpets
using Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol can be used to remove stubborn grease, ink, paint, and some other oil-based stains on carpet. However, use extreme caution, because denatured alcohol is a powerful solvent, and it can permanently damage or discolor some carpets.

It's always a smart idea, no matter what type of solvent you use, to test it out on a small, hidden area of your carpeting. Do a test run near the edge of the room, or behind a piece of furniture.

It's called "denatured" alcohol because it has ingredients not made for consumption and which are toxic. So, be careful with it. It's used in marine and camping stoves, but it is also used as a cleaner and sanitizing agent in many commercial and industrial environments.

This type of alcohol shares similarities with isopropyl alcohol, but can be more effective in removing all kinds of ink from carpets.

Step 1: Blot the Ink Stain with Rags

Before applying any alcohol, softly blot the stain to remove as much ink as possible using a clean, white, absorbent disposable rag. This step is important if the ink stain is still wet, because it will prevent you from spreading the ink over a larger area during the following steps.

Step 2: Apply the Alcohol

Never pour denatured alcohol directly onto carpet.

Remember: Always test the solvent on your carpet in a small, inconspicuous area prior to use.

If your carpet passes the spot test, then apply the alcohol to a clean, white rag and gently dab the stain. Check frequently for dye transfer, and rinse thoroughly when done.

Wait five minutes for the chemical to penetrate the carpet and loosen the ink. Then, take a clean rag and blot the area, picking up the ink from the carpet. Repeat this process two or three times.

Step 3: Agitate the Carpet Fibers

The rag will only pick up the excess ink that doesn't cling to the carpet fibers. Using an old, clean toothbrush, gently massage the denatured alcohol into the fibers, agitating and loosening the remaining ink. You might need to dab more alcohol onto the stain, and continue gently massaging until you remove all the ink from the carpet.

Use the blotting rag to pick up the ink particles you removed from the carpet fibers.

Step 4: Use an Extractor or Vacuum

The blotting process might not pick up all the ink particles from the carpet's surface. Vacuum the area thoroughly using a vacuum cleaner or extractor.

Step 5: Repeat the Process

If you have a stubborn ink stain from a permanent marker or ballpoint pen, you might need to repeat the process. However, if the ink comes from a washable marker or printer cartridge, you will likely remove it within a few minutes.

Contact One of a Kind Pros

You may want to consider leaving it to the pros with the training and experience to handle stains.

After reading this guide, we hope that you have the information you need to know to decide how to deal with ink spilled on your carpet. However, getting a professional on board might be necessary if you have a large stain or a stubborn stain.

Please call soon! The sooner we can handle the stain, the more likely we can remove the stain before it permanently sets.

Thank you for reading our article. We hope it was helpful.
If you have any questions about this article, or suggestions for another article — anything related to cleaning carpet, upholstery, tile and grout, and maintaining a healthy home — please feel free to give us a call!

~ Your Friends at One of a Kind Pros™

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