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The Best Way to Get Pen Ink Out of a Car's Vinyl Interior Upholstery

Zaina Adamu
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Your car’s vinyl interior upholstery won't remain spot free. Things happen. Maybe you managed to get ketchup on the driver’s seat from taking a power lunch between meetings, or maybe your dog tracked muddy paws all over the back seats. Nothing, however, is worse than pen ink.

Try these simple methods to lift those dreaded stains.

Soap and Water

Get a bucket of hot water mixed with dish detergent. Dip a washcloth in the soapy mixture, ring out the excess and gently rub in the soiled spots. Once it has dried, repeat the same process. You will notice that this method not only lifts the ink, but it buffs out the area so it blends with the rest of the fabric. For stains that have settled longer, soak the fabric with soapy water for 10 minutes. Scrub the area with a soft-bristled brush. Allow it to dry before repeating the process.

Nail Polish Remover

The acetone in nail polish remover is strong enough to fight ink stains. Saturate a cotton ball with nail polish remover. Rub the area until the stain lifts out of the fabric. Continue to rub the area until the ink appears on the cotton ball. When the cotton ball begins to fall apart, repeat the process with another, using as many as necessary. The acetone is not strong enough to damage vinyl.

Tide To Go

These small marker-like instruments are usually used on clothing, but you will be surprised to see what it does on vinyl. Take the marker and press down on the ink stain to release the liquid. Gently press its felt tip on the area until the stain disappears. Keep one in your car for other mishaps. They are good for just about anything.

Baking Soda

For every cup of lukewarm water, add one-fifth a cup of baking soda. Soak the area with the mixed water until the ink rises to the surface of your upholstery. Take a towel and rest it on top of the stain. Blot the excess ink. Repeat the process. The second time, rub the towel into the stain.


Do not apply bleach to ink-stained vinyl. It will create a larger and more noticeable spot. Always follow instructions on the back of stain removal products.