How to Remove Ink Out of Linen

Linen, used in garments, sheets and tablecloths, is a classic fabric.

Washable Ink

Properly caring for linen will keep it looking its best. Unfortunately, stains are often unavoidable no matter what the fabric, especially ink stains. An exploded ballpoint pen in a linen pants pocket or the work of your budding artiste all over the dining room table can a great source of frustration. While removing ink stains requires more effort than it took to make them appear, the time spent salvaging your linen items is worth it.

Place the ink-stained area of your linen face down on an absorbent cloth or several layers of paper toweling.

Spray the back of the stain with hairspray. Alternatively, blot the back of the stain with a quantity of denatured alcohol. Repeat until the stain has transferred itself to the towel.

Rinse your linen with water.

Pretreat your linen with a pretreating fluid or laundry detergent if any trace of ink remains. Wash your linen according to the care directions, using the warmest water it can stand.

Permanent Ink

Hold the stained area of your linen under cold running water to remove as much of the ink as possible. Allow the linen to dry.

Apply a dry cleaning solvent to the stain using a sponge or clean cloth. Allow the linen to dry once more.

Pretreat the stain using a pretreating fluid or laundry detergent. Rinse. Repeat as necessary.

Fill a basin with warm water, a small quantity of detergent, and 1 to 4 tbsp. of ammonia per quart of water. Soak the linen in the ammonia mixture for at least 30 minutes. Rinse.

Wash your linen according to the care directions, using the warmest water it can stand.

Things You Will Need

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Hairspray
  • Laundry detergent
  • Pretreating Fluid
  • Dry cleaning solvent
  • Ammonia
  • Bleach
  • Towels
  • Sponge


  • Treating ink stains as quickly as possible will increase your chances of removing them.


  • You may not be able to remove permanent ink stains even under the best of circumstances.

About the Author

Sophie Levant is a freelance writer based in Michigan. Having attended Michigan State University, her interests include history classical music, travel, and the German language. Her work has been published at eHow and Travels.