A colleague stained his pants with ball-pen ink, and WASHED them before noticing. He said that he already tried soap, acetone, gasoline. Any idea proved to be working?

I already suggested him hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and WD-40 - just as generic substances, not at all tested. I do not know what kind of pen / ink was in that particular case.

Of course, he hopes to avoid using scissors, fire... :)

  • 1
    Note that hydrogen peroxide may bleach the fabric as well as the ink. Try it in an unseen area first to test the effect on the fabric. Sep 30, 2022 at 14:01
  • Yes, I am already aware of that. Thank you for the hint, though.
    – virolino
    Sep 30, 2022 at 14:11
  • Well, he can actually use scissors to remove just the dirty part and put such a patch but it really depends what kind of pants he has and where the stain is located. Oct 1, 2022 at 14:44
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard: we know about that alternative, but at the moment we want to avoid it.
    – virolino
    Oct 2, 2022 at 8:13

2 Answers 2


For ink stains on clothing that have been laundered, Folex Carpet Cleaner can be effective!

It can be purchased at most hardware stores like Lowe's/Home Depot etc.

Saturate the stained area with the spray while the item is dry, then blot out and repeat as needed.

Hope this is helpful!


Ethanol is effective in removing ball-point pen ink, and won't damage most fabrics (test at a hidden spot), but it's slow going after the ink has dried.

  • Use the strongest ethanol available, at least 90%. If not available, at least 90% isopropanol (used for injection prep) or much more toxic methanol can be used. For methanol, in particular, use outdoors, wearing rubber or vinyl gloves and safety goggles or plastic shield. In all cases, stay away from any source of ignition!
  • Use a toothbrush, and repeatedly scrub the fabric, submerged under the alcohol, in multiple directions.
  • Flip the garment inside out, and again, use a toothbrush, and repeatedly scrub the fabric, submerged under the alcohol, in multiple directions.
  • If it appears even a bit lighter, repeat as above, with the caveat that the rubbing is hard on the fabric.

Depending on the fabric and ink, this sometimes works, though very slowly... and sometimes, not at all. Sort of like Bob Newhart's line at 6:25 "Some go down like a rock... and some'll stay up for two, three minutes," so keep your expectations low.

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