The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Sunday Activity

Treat ink stains promptly

THOUGH in this age of electronic writing and typing, the ubiquitous ink pen is becoming more and more dispensible, it has loyalists who still believe that nothing can match the written word. For those who still use pens, it is not uncommon to find stubborn stains on their shirts and trousers and their households may not be free from ink spills on the floor or upholstery. Here’s a blotting guide for them.

Ink in a washing machine: You’re faced with a major crisis if you’ve forgotten to remove ink pens from a shirt pocket before putting it in a washing machine. But if the damage is done, go about systematically to blot out as much of the stains as possible.

First do not run the machine anymore as heat absolutely sets ink stains.

Using a clean dry cleaning rag wipe as much ink off as possible. If you catch before the heat has set this then you have a chance.

Put a large towel in the washing machine and pour a mixture of warm water and detergent and let the ink soak into the towel. You may be able to get some off, especially if there are large amounts of ink.

Then dip cleaning rags in soap solution and rub the machine drum with these. Using allot of cleaning rags I was able to remove allot of the ink.


If ink gets under the agitators (usually plastic), it may be a problem removing it. Try pouring a general purpose cleaner along the edge and a fair bit of ink may come out. Do not pour any solvent that is inflammable flammable.

If the ink stains persist, use paint thinner. But a word of caution: since paint thinner is also very flammable do not run the machine for at least 24 hours after the cleaning operation, till all the vapour dissipates. Best is not to pour the thinner directly into the drum. but to dab it on rags and then wipe it.

After about 24 hours washed some rags in the washing machine to absorb any ink that may not have come off.

Ink on clothes: First, sponge the area around the stain with alcohol. Then apply the alcohol directly on the stain. Next, place the stain face down on clean white, cleaning towels. Apply alcohol to the back of the stain. Replace towels frequently. Continue until no further ink is removed. Then rinse thoroughly.

Rub with strong detergent and launder in hottest water safe for fabric, with bleach safe for fabric. Always check for colour fastness first.

Precautions: Heat sets ink stains. Act quickly as a precaution check your laundry before putting it in the washing machine.

Ink on linoleum floor : Linoleum is, unfortunately, not very resilient (translation... stains easy).

Use rubbing alcohol, which is usually recommended to remove ink.

If it doesn't wipe off, you may have to use a medium aggressive scrubbing pad .

After using a strong chemical and scrubbing the floor you will have to get it polished.

Ballpoint marks on carpet : Work on removing the stain as soon as you notice it. The longer the stain is left on the carpet the greater the chances are of the stain setting.

In every case remove all excess wet or dry material before attempting to clean. Blot wet materials using a white terry towel. Vacuum excess dry materials or gently scrape up materials with a spoon.

Apply a small amount of soap solution to the white terry towel and blot the stain. Continue until no further transfer of material to the towel is apparent.

Complete removal may require repeating the same step several times. Gently dab the carpet, do not scrub as this may distort the texture of the pile.

If the spot or stain turns brownish when dry, mix 1 part white vinegar and two parts water. Apply a small amount and blot. Repeat only once.

Never pour solutions directly on to your carpet or saturate your carpet. Instead apply them to a white terry towel and blot the stained area. Never use highly combustible chemicals such as gasoline or paint thinners.

Chetna Banerjee

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