How to Get Ink Stains out of Carpet

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated September 16, 2022
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Ink spots on your carpeting don’t always have to leave permanent stains

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An inky mess on your carpeting can send you straight into panic mode, but there are methods for how to get ink out of carpet that can undo the damage. Whether from a forgotten pen or your little ones getting carried away with the washable markers, the right techniques can help save your carpeting from the spots and splatters (or at least minimize the damage). 

A local carpet cleaning service is your number one lifeline, but here are some DIY ink removal tricks to try in the meantime.

Why Does Ink Stain?

Ink stains because of its inorganic chemical structure, which makes it less responsive to solvents. Organic messes, such as dirt and food stains, are able to break down, whereas ink, chemicals, and other inorganic materials don’t often dissolve as easily. This reason is why getting mud out of carpeting, for example, is a lot easier than removing a paint stain.

Getting ink out of carpet is especially challenging, as it's made with pigments and dyes that are designed to leave a permanent mark. When it ends up on a porous surface such as carpeting, it stubbornly adheres and can be tricky to remove. 

Removing Different Types of Ink Stains From Carpet

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When you have a busy home filled with note-taking, crafting, and coloring, keeping your carpet clean and ink-free can be a challenge. However, with the right supplies and techniques, your carpet doesn’t have to be a permanent canvas. Here are the best methods for how to get ink out of carpet.   

7 types of carpet cleaning solutions, including hair spray, white vinegar, and spot cleaners

How to Remove Water-Based Ink Stains

Water-based inks, such as those from washable markers, are the easiest to remove from carpeting. Typically, all you’ll need is dish soap and water, but you can also try any of the methods for permanent inks if that doesn’t do the trick. Here’s what to do:

  1. Mix equal parts water and dish soap in a small bowl.

  2. Dip a sponge into the mixture and dab at the stain.

  3. Repeat this process until the stain is lifted. 

How to Remove Permanent Ink Stains

Multiple solvents can get ink out of carpet if it’s permanent ink. Here are the best ones to try before bringing in a professional. Note: Be sure to spot test any method before adding it to a larger area of your carpet.

Rubbing Alcohol

  1. Soak a clean sponge with rubbing alcohol.

  2. Blot the ink until the stain lifts.

  3. Rinse with warm water and soak up the excess with a clean towel.

Cornstarch and Milk

  1. Take a couple of spoonfuls of cornstarch and slowly add milk, stirring until it forms a thick paste.

  2. Use a damp sponge or your fingers to apply the paste to the stain.

  3. Wait a few hours to allow the paste to dry.

  4. Brush the paste away with an old toothbrush.

  5. Vacuum up any leftover residue. 

WD-40 or a Similar Lubricant 

  1. Spray the ink stain with WD-40 or another store-bought home lubricant.

  2. Allow it to soak in for about one minute.

  3. Use a sponge soaked in warm, soapy water to dab at the stain.

  4. Wring out the sponge and repeat until the stain is lifted.

  5. Use a clean rag soaked in warm water to remove any leftover residue.

How to Remove Stains From Ballpoint Pens

If the ink stains on your carpeting are from a ballpoint pen, rubbing alcohol is usually the best solution. Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain, allow it to sit for a couple of minutes, then dab with a damp sponge to lift it out.

Tips for Removing Ink From Carpet

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  • Avoid rubbing, which is a common carpet cleaning mistake that will only work the ink in deeper and spread it out.

  • Switch to a clean area on your rag or paper towel with each blot to avoid redepositing the ink.

  • Test an inconspicuous area of the carpeting before applying any chemicals.

  • Reach out to a professional carpet cleaner if all else fails.

DIY vs. Hiring a Pro 

Ink spots still not budging? If DIY methods aren’t cutting it, consider bringing in a pro to see if the carpeting is still salvageable. Professional carpet cleaning costs between $120 and $230 on average, but prices vary based on the job. It’s more of an investment than spending $10 or so on DIY supplies, but it’s worth a shot if it’s within your budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, hairspray can remove ink from carpet, but only because it contains alcohol. Alcohol is the solvent that dissolves the active ingredients in hairspray, which makes hairspray behave similarly to rubbing alcohol when applied to a stain. 

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