How to Remove Ink Stains from Your Carpeting

Since I moved to my current home, I’ve had to deal with ink stains on my carpeting twice – with different results.

My first attempts at removing an ink stain occurred not long after I moved in. They failed, miserably. Thankfully, I was already planning on replacing my carpet. Every time I looked at the stain, I knew that I wouldn’t have to see it for much longer. That stain disappeared with the old carpet.

The next ink stain was a little more stressful, as replacing the carpet again was not an option. I’d either remove that ink, or have to cover it for the next few years. Ugh. But this time, I was attending to the stain immediately, which is a big plus.

If you’re not sure how to deal with a stain, visit the website of the company that does your carpet cleaning. Mine – Rainier Chem-Dry – has some basic tips. Most other professional carpet cleaners offer stain removal tips to try prior to giving them a call.

You probably already know that there’s more than one kind of ink out there. Some inks are more difficult to remove than others. My kind, from a blue ballpoint pen, isn’t as bad as permanent ink. But removing it successfully isn’t assured, either.

For starters, soap is relatively ineffective at removing ballpoint ink. Alcohol is a much better choice – it’s an effective de-greaser, and ballpoint ink uses an oil of some sort as a lubricant. Colored inks, such as the blue one now on my carpeting, are based on soybean or linseed oil.

Most homes have alcohol on hand, in some form or another. Rubbing alcohol is one example. Vodka is another. Provided that the alcohol content is high enough, just about any solution could work.

No matter what you use, you’ll want to test-apply your alcohol solution to an inconspicuous place elsewhere on your carpet. Apply a minimal amount of solution. Blot away with a white towel or something smaller, like a white cotton ball. Make sure that a.) no color transfers onto the towel and b.) the carpet does not change color in any way.

While I didn’t have rubbing alcohol on hand when the ink mishap occurred. I did have vodka. When tested on my carpet, the vodka passed with no adverse effects. But I didn’t apply the vodka immediately. My ink hadn’t had a chance to set, so I blotted away whatever I could with a cotton ball. I didn’t pull up much, but it was a start.

Next I blotted the vodka onto the stain, lightly and gently. My immediate goal was to keep the stain from getting worse, so I used a minimum of solution. I didn’t press hard. I didn’t scrub. I think that coaxing the ink to get onto my cotton ball is probably the best way to describe my process.

The process ended up taking quite a while. It seemed that every time I’d thought that I’d pulled up all of the ink I could, I was able to extract a little more. Eventually, the stain was impossible to see from more than a few inches away. By attending to the ink quickly, and with alcohol, I was able to successfully thwart a potentially ugly stain.