I have some cards (for example pokemon cards) that I wrote on with a ballpoint pen. I was wondering how I could get rid of it, any lifehacks for that?

If it helps it's on the backside of the card.

PS: Unsure about the tag I need to add for this.

  • Become famous. Now the rare cards have even more value because they have authentic Decypher handwriting on them. One of a kind. Feb 15, 2021 at 14:49

5 Answers 5


Unless the cards are extremely rare, your odds are better of replacing the card from a used source (auction sites, game-specific trading sites) than of removing the ink without damaging the card further.

FWIW, the sleeves that many collectible card game players use to protect their cards usually have opaque (colored or patterned) back sides, so the marks on the cards will be hidden if you sleeve them. That's quite sufficent to avoid "marked card" disputes during play.

If you're trying to preserve/restore the value of rarer cards (for sale or trade), you may be better off not trying to remove the ball point ink. Ball point inks are oil based, so they can be removed by non-polar solvents like naphtha -- but the problem is that the printing inks used to create the cards originally are also oil based and will come off or smear with the same solvents. It's very unlikely you'll be able to chemically remove the ink markings without destroying the printing on the card. The value is degraded by the marks, no question, but that reduction is surely less than what would result from massive damage to the printed background pattern from using a solvent that will remove ballpoint ink.

Mechanical methods all share one common point: they'll leave white where the marks are removed; they'll gain nothing (relative to card value) over leaving the marks as they are. I'd recommend accepting the fact that a bad decision to write on the cards (likely when you were rather young, right?) has cost you value, and be content with what you can get for marked-up cards.

  • kinda rare cards XD
    – Decypher
    Aug 25, 2016 at 11:44
  • Answer updated to address card rarity.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Aug 25, 2016 at 12:13

I tried baking soda, white vinegar and water with a toothbrush on my cards that had red ink on them. First I tried it on a common just to test then one of my better cards. I ended up ruining the better card but the common worked fine somehow. Make sure you are extra careful if f you do try this but you would be better off just not. Just my input.


Some chemical that you can use to remove ink:

  • Acetone (This is from nail polish cleaner)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (Use the odorless and colorless one. And use it only on the ink)

And if you're looking for non-chemical stuff you can use:

  • Lemon essence (Make one from lemons)

  • Baking Soda + white vinegar + water (Mix them up into a paste dilute. Then use a soft toothbrush to clean the ink)

The result varies depend on the ink and how long the card is exposed to ink. I'm not guarantee 100%. Use it by your own risk.

  • 1
    A Q-tip will do less damage than a wet toothbrush on paper products.
    – Stan
    Dec 18, 2016 at 15:40

Erasing pen ink from papers is a difficult process, especially if you don't want to damage the paper in the process, in your case the cards also have printed ink on them besides your own ballpoint pen ink so basically what you're asking for is next to impossible without damaging the ink on the card as well.

However there is an alternative, which would be to grab another pen in a color matching the background and draw over your original pen lines. This works for hiding it, you will still of course see it, but only when you look close enough (i.e. if you get it right you can hold the card arms length from your face and you won't be able to tell).

There are however inks which can easily be wiped off whatever they were used on without damaging anything (for example thermo-sensitive ink can be erased with heat or cold depending on which it was designed for; Pilot Frixion pens are one excellent example of this) so next time you want to put marks on something that you might regret later, make sure to think of this ahead of time.


WD-40 will get pen marks off your card without erasing anything else on the card. It won’t get rid of marker though.

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