Cleaning Ink Stains from Carpets

Cleaning ink out of carpet is very difficult depending on the type of ink and getting them out of carpet without damaging the carpet itself can seem daunting. The three most common inks we see spilled on carpeting are water soluble and permanent ink,nail polish and dyes.

Just keep the following in mind when treating the carpet for ink stains: be patient and blot the stain rather than wiping it. Wiping just smears the ink over your carpet—blotting is more effective for removing these stains (and most other kinds of carpet stains).

Did You Know?

Salt works impressively on ink stains on carpet. If the ink is still wet immediately cover it with salt. Allow the salt to sit overnight then vacuum the area. The salt will absorb the ink. If the ink is already dry, wet it thoroughly before trying the salt treatment. Salt also works on other stains like Kool-Aid or juice.

Water soluble ink

Water soluble ink as the name suggests can be removed with laundry detergent dissolved in warm water. If the ink is fresh and still wet, begin by blotting at the stain with a clean moist cloth to remove as much of the ink as possible. Always blot (do NOT scrub) the area to keep from spreading the stain or pushing it further into the fibers. For larger stains, it is best to work from the outside towards the center.

If Dry then Mix in a cup or bowl and dip a white towel or rag into the solution and apply to the ink stain blotting and wiping until the ink is removed. Large amounts of ink will slowly fade so repeat this step until the ink is gone, remember not to scrub aggressively as this will distort and damage the carpet fiber leaving a noticeably worn area.

Permanant/Ball Point ink

Permanent ink is not as ominous as it sounds a number of markers and ink pens can be removed with the above stated cleaning methods on carpet, using laundry detergent and hot water can eliminate many of these stains. Some permanent inks are just that “permanent” so cleaning will lighten the area up but not remove the ink entirely, red inks fall into this stubborn category.

For tougher stains moisten a cloth with rubbing alcohol and blot at the stain. As you are blotting, the ink should begin to transfer to the cloth. Use a clean piece of the cloth with each application to prevent adding the removed ink back in. If there is no rubbing alcohol available, spray the area well with hairspray. The cheaper the better as they contain higher levels of alcohol in them.

Dyes and polish

This category is the one people hate to hear the most,  Dyes especially red food dyes that are in every kids soda, juice and Kool aid glass are never coming out. We start with a red stain and it lightens to a pink stain. Same with yellow, orange and purple stains. We can remove food based dyes but chemical dyes that are edible are different and permanent. Some colors such as blue and green dyes can be cleaned to a degree so that they are hardly noticeable. On dark colored carpets cleaning the stains with rubbing alcohol and then a solution of hot water and laundry detergent can lighten the stain enough as not to be noticed. Again clean with a wiping and blotting motion, do not vigorously rub, after cleaning rinse the area with warm water and a white towel to remove any residue.

Pulling spilled nail polish out of carpet fibers can be time consuming. The amount of cleaning required will depend on the amount of nail polish spilled and the fibers of the carpet. Be prepared to spend some time removing big stains. Regardless of the size of the stain, the removal method remains the same.

Moisten a soft cloth with a small amount of nail polish remover. Test a small, hidden area (in a closet, under a piece of furniture or back in a corner) to ensure the nail polish remover does not remove the color from the carpet. Keep the stain wet with water while you are watching the test area. If the test area works well, moisten the cloth with additional nail polish remover and blot it onto the stain. You should see the nail polish transferring to the cloth. Change the cloth often and continue blotting until the stain is removed.

Always Keep in Mind

  • When the stain is gone, blot the area with clean water to rinse. Ensure that all of the cleaning solution is removed as the residue can leave a sticky layer that will quickly collect dirt and dust.
  • If the stain has dried or has a significant amount of ink, it may be helpful to allow the area to soak for a minute or two in the solution before blotting to remove.
  • Strong solvents or too much rubbing alcohol can dissolve the latex binding, which holds the carpeting together, or melting the face fiber thus damaging the area permanently.


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