How to Remove Dried Pen Ink From Stainless Steel

The amount of work needed to remove dried pen ink from stainless steel surfaces usually depends on the type of dried ink stain -- water soluble or permanent ink. If you're dealing with a water-soluble ink stain, simple application of moisture to the stain should soften the ink so that you can simply wipe it away. If you're dealing with permanent ink, you'll need to employ slightly abrasive cleaning tools to dislodge the ink from the surface.

  1. Rub the stain with a warm, slightly soapy lint-free cloth. This should remove the ink if it's water soluble and, at the very least, will clean the area of any other dirt or debris that may make the stain seem larger than it actually is.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with undiluted white or cider vinegar. Apply the vinegar to the dried pen ink stain. Wait at least 15 to 25 minutes for the vinegar to break down the ink.
  3. Wipe the vinegar and stain residues with a damp cloth. If any of the stain remains, sprinkle salt or baking soda on a non-abrasive cleaning pad or fine brass wool. Scrub the stain in the direction of the grain of the stainless steel, if applicable, until the stain wears away and then rinse the area again with a damp cloth.
  4. Dry your stainless steel surface with a soft, lint-free cloth.

Things You Will Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Spray bottle
  • White or cider vinegar
  • Salt or baking soda
  • Non-abrasive cleaning pad or brass wool


  • If you're dealing with a difficult stain, use a commercial stainless steel stain removal product to remove the stain.
  • If the ink is inside a stainless steel container, pour enough hot vinegar to cover the stain into the container or, if you're dealing with a pot, boil vinegar in it. Set the container aside until the vinegar cools and then scrub to remove the stain.


  • Never use a commercial stainless steel cleaner on cookware unless approved for that use.
  • Never use abrasive cleaning tools or scrub against the grain pattern of the stainless steel when applicable.
  • Use of steel wool on your stainless steel surface can cause rust.

About the Author

Based in Southern Pennsylvania, Irene A. Blake has been writing on a wide range of topics for over a decade. Her work has appeared in projects by The National Network for Artist Placement, the-phone-book Limited and GateHouse Media. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University.