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How to remove ballpoint ink stains on fabric

Readers Lounge By Michelle Langi
If you act fast and with the right product and technique your fabric can be saved (Shutterstock)

Let us talk stains - ballpoint/biro pen ink stains. Apart from permanent marker and chewing gum stains, this is one stain that can leave you horrified and wondering what to do.

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When subjected to heat (like in a hot car or a warm pocket), ball point pens are known to spew their ink in a most annoying manner. It is even worse when this otherwise very useful instruments gets into the wrong little hands.

It is a wonder how something as small as a pen can cause damage to fabric and wood. The good news is if you act fast and with the right product and technique your fabric can be saved.

The right amount of scrubbing combined with the required ink removing agent will erase the stain without damaging your fabric. It is better to hit the stain while it is still fresh. Keep reading as we unveil the antidote.

Composition of ink

Before we delve in the solution, we need to understand the nature of a stain so as to best denature it.

Ballpoint pen ink is a colloidal paste mixed with dye in less than half of the base paste. The red, blue, black or green dyes are mixed in a benzyl alcohol or phenoxyethanol oil solution.

Save this article. If the ball point catastrophe has not happened to you yet, it is bound to happen some day (Shutterstock)

You will need:

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Rubbing alcohol/surgical spirit/dry cleaning agent

Dishwashing paste

Ammonia

White cloth

Glycerin soap

Gloves

Method

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1. Test the solvent you intend to use in a hidden part of your couch or drapes. You will want to ensure that it is not doing any damage to the fabric before going all in.

2. Dip your white cloth in the surgical spirit or dry cleaning agent. Use the damp cloth to blot the stain, avoid rubbing as this will cause the pigment to spread.

3. Mix glycerin soap, dishwashing paste, water in equal proportion and apply to the stain. Let it sit a few minutes then gently rub it. If the stain is stubborn, add some ammonia to help lift it off.

4. When the stain is gone, clean the area with water and allow upholstery to dry.

5. Save this article. If the ball point catastrophe has not happened to you yet, it is bound to happen one day.

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