How to Remove an Ink Stain After Pants Have Been Washed & Dried

Lisa Sefcik

The ballpoint pen you absent-mindedly stick in your pants pocket can lead to a common housekeeping hazard when you forget to take it out and laundry time rolls around. Permanent and solvent-soluble (ballpoint) ink stains are tough to remove and may require the services of a professional dry cleaner.

You might also, however, try a few home treatments to remove ink stains from washable fabrics after your pants have already been washed and dried.

Solvent-Soluble Ink Stains

  1. Sponge or blot the fabric around the stain with rubbing alcohol. Place the pants on a stack of plain white paper towels or an old bath towel, stain-side down.

  2. Continue to blot the stained area with alcohol, replacing or moving the towels around as the ink bleeds through the fabric until the ink stain is removed.

  3. Rinse the stained area in water. Rub liquid detergent into the fabric and wash in the hottest temperature that is safe for the fabric. Look on the item's label for laundering instructions.

Permanent Ink Stains

  1. Blot the ink-stained pants with dry-cleaning solvent. Allow the solvent to dry before rubbing liquid detergent into the stained area. Rinse the fabric.

  2. Soak the ink-stained portion of fabric in warm water with 1 to 4 tbsp. household ammonia added. Rinse the stain with water.

  3. Launder the pants according to the label's instructions.


If there are ink stains in your dryer, this might require more elbow grease on your part. Scrub the stains with soap and water. Rinse off the soap with a damp, wet cloth or sponge. For spots that linger, treat with an all-purpose household cleaner or alcohol.


Ink stains in your dryer can transfer to the next load of laundry. Put some old towels or rags in the dryer--anything that is disposable--and run them through one drying cycle.