remove ink from carpet

Remove Ink From Carpet In 4 Easy Steps With Home Ingredients

By Maria Hernandez / March 30, 2021 / 0 Comments

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    The pen is one of the best inventions of the ages, and it’s still one of the first things we learn to write with, but it can certainly cause a mess on your carpet! Step on it, in it, or walk through it, and your carpet is sure to look like bloody murder. What now! No need to panic. I’ve got you covered with this easy four-step guide to remove ink from your carpet. 

    Plush carpeting can be a real luxury for your home, but they are not the easiest or most cleaner-friendly flooring around. Mess some ink on your ceramic floor tiles and it’s no biggie. But pop open that fountain pen and a few blots of ink land on your tightly woven rug or your full floor carpeting, and you’ll likely be ready to panic.

    After all, they didn’t cover this kind of drama in life orientation classes at school! You don’t know where to begin with getting ink out of carpet. And calling for a quote from a professional carpet cleaner almost left you with a different kind of stain to consider once you heard the cost.

    Is your rug ruined? Nope. You are going to need a little ingenuity, a well-stocked kitchen, and some elbow grease though. With this step-by-step guide, you can have a stain-free carpet in no time at all.

    Removing Ink From A Carpet? Know Your Ink

    Not all inks are the same. While black ink may look like black ink, there are different kinds of inks, and some of them require a special bit of attention to clean up from any surface, but especially carpeting.

    All inks are made with a liquid, which is either water or oil based. In this liquid, there are different pigments, which gives the ink its color. The stain you see is the pigments attaching to your carpet fibers. With metallic inks, the pigments also contain metallic flakes or glitter that need to be brushed out of the carpet pile.

    Ballpoint Pen Ink

    These are the pens you probably wrote with at school and you are likely still writing with them now. They have a rich colored ink that is dark and durable. Great for writing, not so great for stains.

    Ballpoint Pen Ink

    Problem is, they contain oil-based inks, which give them that clarity on paper. It is also slightly harder to clean up on rugs. The “how to” of getting oil-based pen ink out of a carpet requires that you act quickly.

    Sprinkle some cornstarch on the stain while you prepare for the cleaning steps I will explain below. The cornstarch is a time saver, and it helps slow down the drying properties of ballpoint pen ink or any other oil-based ink. This means the stain won’t penetrate as deeply into the carpet as when you leave it.

    Cornstarch gives the ink something else to attach to other than your carpet, making cleaning up so much easier. I actually keep a container with cornstarch and baking soda in my kitchen for stains, which makes for a great spot treatment along with my handheld vacuum cleaner.

    Water-Based Gel Ink

    Bright pens such as those with milky colors and even the metallic pens have a water-based ink, which is easier to clean. For glitter pens, you will need to brush the area carefully to remove all the glitter when you are cleaning the stain.

    Once you have removed the stain, you will have to wet the carpet and brush the flakes out with a toothbrush or any other carpet comb.

    Ink From Fountain Pens

    These pens also have water-based inks, and the stain would be treated no differently than with oil pens. However, if the reserve at the back of the pen has been ruptured, you will be facing a much larger stain, which can be intimidating. No worries; you can clean this up easily too by using the four steps below.

    Commercial Printing And Copying Ink

    With copiers and faxes, you occasionally need to change the toner cartridges, which can be a nightmare in a home office with a rug or carpet. These cartridges can contain either liquid ink or powder ink. For water-based cartridge ink, you can use the steps outlined below to get rid of the stain.

    If your stain is the powder kind, you need to start by vacuuming up the worst of the stain BEFORE you start adding any liquid cleaners.

    As a tip, you can do a second vacuum session by adding some cornstarch to the powder mix and vacuuming again. This can help lift more of the powder pigment off the carpet pile.

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    4 Steps On How To Remove Ink From Carpet

    With stains, time is of the essence. The longer that inkblot sits on your favorite carpet, the deeper it soaks in until it takes up permanent residence. Remove ink from carpet by following these four steps.

    Step 1: Control The Stain

    Whichever ink stain you are dealing with, it is important to stop it from spreading further via foot traffic or by being allowed to soak in. At this stage, you should avoid rubbing at the stain to try and wipe it up.

    Control The Stain

    Instead, simply place a light colored rag or kitchen toweling on the stain to soak up any excess staining. You may press down gently on the paper or rag, but don’t rub the ink deeper into the carpet’s pile.

    If you are dealing with ballpoint ink, you can place some cornstarch over the area to keep the ink from drying into the fibers of the carpet. Next, it’s time to get wet.

    Step 2: Soak That Sucker

    To stop the ink from binding with the fibers of your carpet, you need to mix in something that is liquid. There are several options of household cleaners you can use, from vinegar to denatured alcohol. You can also choose a commercial cleaner, and I will discuss some options in a minute.

    Whichever cleaning solution you choose to use, be sure to color test a small area of your carpet to check for the colorfastness of the carpet. You don’t want to turn a small stain into a huge white spot if the carpet reacts to the cleaner of choice.

    Rubbing Alcohol

    The easiest option to try is to simply pour a small amount on the stain or dip the corner of a light colored rag in the alcohol. Begin on the outside edge of the stain, working your way inward, and use a dabbing motion with the cloth. Where the stain is deepest, you may need to use a bit more to soak the fibers to soak the ink’s pigment.

    This option works well for both ballpoint pen ink, gel ink, and copier toner stains. For even better results, you can also use denatured alcohol, which is a stronger cleaner and dries faster, but it is also toxic, so beware if you have children or pets and ensure you have loads of ventilation in the area.


    If you don’t have any alcohol that’s suitable for cleaning (that 12-year-old Scotch won’t do), then you can use white vinegar. It’s effective in lifting most stains. You can also add some baking soda to really get things clean and bubbling. The fizzy action of the baking soda will help to lift the pigment of the ink from the fibers.

    If you are unsure about the safety of the solution, then add a little cold water to the mix so you have a more liquidy paste, which won’t have any bleaching properties. Apply well, rubbing in gently with the back of a spoon.

    Leave the solution to sit on the stain for a while (at least 10 to 15 minutes).

    Shaving Cream

    This actually works. However, be sure to use a foamy cream and not a gel. I would also suggest choosing a white foam and not a tinted one. If you are desperate, you can also use hairspray (since we’re on the personal hygiene products), which usually contains alcohol.

    Simply spray some on, gently pat it into the stain and allow to soak for a couple of minutes.

    Bleach And Peroxide

    These are amazing cleaning solutions, but they tend to lift carpet color too, so if you have a white carpet (not cream or off-white), then you are in luck and can use these quite effectively. To apply, you can use the bottle cap to dribble some of the bleach or peroxide over the stain. Take care not to get the liquid on your hands as it is quite corrosive

    Commercial Carpet Cleaning Solutions 

    If you are unsure, then it’s safer to go with vinegar or rubbing alcohol. If you are really prepared, you can stock up on either of these commercial carpet cleaning solutions, which are great for cleaning most stains from carpets and removing stains from upholstery too. Should you not have these in stock, then you can definitely opt for the household solutions listed above.

    Gonzo Natural Magic Stain Remover

    Gonzo stain remover is one of a few commercial brand cleaning solutions that are rated as capable of removing ink stains from carpets. It’s fairly affordable too, and since it’s premixed, cleaning stains is now a breeze. Simply squeeze some cleaner onto the affected area, dab, and dry. Vacuuming should remove the pigments once the stain is dry.

    Folex Carpet Spot Remover

    Folex Carpet products have been on the market for a long time, which indicates their effectiveness, as does their Amazon rating as the number 1 carpet cleaner. It comes in a handy spray bottle, which makes cleaning up an ink stain easy as pie. Simply spray onto the stains, allow to soak in, then scrub lightly before vacuuming.

    WD-40 Specialist Industrial-Strength Cleaner & Degreaser

    This is a well-loved American favorite do-all product, and why not use it to clean up ink stains? The trick is to test it first on a small area of your carpet, and once you are sure it won’t wreck the surface, you can lightly spray the ink stain. Treat as you would with the other solutions in step 3.

    Step 3: Get Scrubbing

    Next, you need to put in a little elbow grease and scrub at the stain. A toothbrush works well, or you could also use a carpet brush or a shoe polish brush. You can also use light colored rags to dab-scrub at the stain.

    Get Scrubbing

    It is a good idea to scrub from the outside in, not from the inside out as you want to minimize the area where the stain is. The stain will probably be more concentrated in the center of the area, so this is where you may need a little extra cleaning solution.

    Once you have scrubbed and start to see the pigment lifting, you can dab with a fresh cloth or paper towel to get some of the loosened stain off your carpet.

    You can now wash your carpet as you usually do with regular carpet shampoo or some dishwashing liquid and water. Scrub lightly to ensure the last of your ink stain has indeed been lifted.

    Step 4: Vacuum And Repeat

    When you have finished scrubbing, you can vacuum your carpet using a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. When the carpet fibers are dry, you can evaluate whether you need to repeat steps 1 to 3. If not, you’re probably smiling at a lovely clean carpet.

    Should you vacuum and still see a slight stain remaining, you can definitely try steps 1 to 3 again, and you may need to go a little deeper into the stain with more cleaner. Using a toothbrush to push the cleaning solution into the fibers can help you really get to the bottom of the matter (or stain).

    As a side note, it’s a good idea to do a full-carpet wash if you have cleaned up an area that was stained. This is to ensure an even tone across your whole carpet.

    Remember that the stain area you just cleaned may now be cleaner than the rest of your carpet, and you need to make sure the rest of the carpet tones in.

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    How To Get Ink Stains Out Of Carpet FAQs

    How Do You Remove Old Ballpoint Ink Stains?

    Use rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol. Dab on the solution with a clean and light colored rag. Move from the outside in as you lift the ink stain. Allow to dry, then wash as usual with carpet shampoo.

    Can Ink Stains Be Removed After Drying?

    Yes, they can. You treat them the same as wet or new ink stains. Simply apply rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol, gently dabbing on the liquid with a clean, light colored cloth. Wipe off the ink stains as they are lifted. By removing the ink pigment as you clean, the stain will soon be a thing of the past.

    Can Baking Soda Remove Pen Ink?

    You can clean off new ink stains with baking soda. Simply mix a tablespoon of baking soda with some warm water to make a fizzy paste. Apply it to the stain with the back of a spoon. Let it sit for a few minutes, then lightly scrub with an old toothbrush. Vacuum up the dried baking soda paste. Repeat if necessary.

    Does Salt Remove Ink Stains?

    Salt and lemon juice make for an effective cleaning solution to remove ink stains from carpet. Simply mix a tablespoon of salt and a generous squeeze of a fresh lemon to make a paste that you can apply to the ink stain.

    Allow the solution to sit on the stain for a couple of minutes, then dab at the stain with a clean and light colored rag. Finish the cleaning project with a thorough vacuuming. You may need to brush the area with a stiff bristled brush to remove any salt that has penetrated too deeply into the carpet.

    How Do You Remove Printer Ink Stains?

    For toner ink that is powdery, you can remove excess powder from the stain by lightly vacuuming. A handheld vacuum is ideal for this. Next, place a rag around the stain area and spray thoroughly with hairspray. Allow to dry, then gently dab at the stain with the rag, lifting off the pigment.

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    Seeing a blue, black, or red ink stain on your beloved and often expensive carpet doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With a few common ingredients found in your kitchen, even the most unprepared homeowner can effectively remove ink stains from their carpets.

    With these four easy steps, you can also clean up any ink mess, proving your cleaning skills are mightier than the pen. Have you had any run-ins with ink stains on your carpets before? Please share them with pictures on our social media.

    About Maria Hernandez

    Senior Floor Critic, 25 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning

    Maria Hernandez has 25 years of experience in residential and commercial janitorial and cleaning services. From hardwood to carpet to marble floors, Maria has developed a deep expertise in cleaning and maintaining many different flooring types. Visit Website.

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