Posted in art, creativity, life hacks, Planning and journaling, stain removal, stationery, stationery supplies

Stationery mishaps – pen stain removal

A very small selection of my pens 🙂

Hi guys. Hope you’re all well. This may seem like a bit of a random post from me but the idea for it came to me yesterday after I had a bit of a stationery mishap. Basically, I attended my first class of beginner’s ceramics which I recently signed up for and after finishing the vast amount of paperwork required for the course funding, I accidentally drew a great big line of black ballpoint pen across the left boob area of my light mint green top! I let out a shriek of horror as I know that this kind of pen has a tendency to stain.

When I returned home, I got to work Googling stain removal solutions and I’m excited to report that the pen is now gone and my top is saved. So, I thought, why not do a blog post for the rest of you stationery addicts out there who may, in the future, need a little support with getting pen out of your best clothes.

Please note however, that these are ideas collected from the internet and that I can’t accept responsibility if they don’t work or if they cause further damage to your garments. My aim here is to share what’s worked for others in the hope that you might be able to rescue your much loved items in a similar way.

Ballpoint pen

Stains made with this popular and usually cheap pen can be very difficult to remove. That’s why it’s best to tackle the offending mark as soon as possible. Start by determining the pen type as not all of those which have a ball contain the same type of ink. Traditional ballpoints like Bic and Papermate Flexgrip, use a fast drying oil-based ink which needs to be removed using some kind of solvent. Water-based inks, such as a Pentel roller ball, are fairly easy to remove. Whereas, gel pens are highly pigmented and, again tend to be pretty hard to get out of clothes and furnishings.

The most fabric friendly way to remove oil based ink, is using an alcohol based product. You can often find many of these in your home such as aerosol hairspray, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser or wipes. I used a little bottle of Body Shop hand gel which I keep in my handbag. Place the garment over an absorbent material such as a clean cloth, a number of paper towels or white napkins. Thoroughly saturate the area with the pen stain, wait around 5 minutes (probably panic about your precious garment if you’re anything like me) and then use a clean, dry cloth to blot out the stain (I used more paper towels here as this was all I had available to me). Repeat with more solvent and further areas of cloth if necessary. Wash the area with detergent or if you can see the stain has completely gone already, you can just launder as normal.

For water-based pens, if you tackle the mark straightaway, you can simply use soap and warm water to get the stain out with a gentle rub. If, however, the stain has been on the item for longer, and has set. You can use an old toothbrush to add a little friction to rub the stain out. I think this one would be useful on more hardwearing fabrics such as denim jeans.

Gel ink, according to manufacturers, if almost impossible to remove, but the best way to have a go at getting it out, is using normal detergent, stain removing gel (e.g. Vanish) or liquid hand soap. Add a small amount and rub the stain directly, rinsing with running water. Then try to blot out the rest of the ink between two piles of paper towels, white napkins or several clean clothes.

Felt tips and markers

Like the ballpoint pens, it’s important to establish what kind of ink you’re working with. If they’re washable, then the stain should come out with a standard wash but more highly pigmented and marker pens might benefit from the same alcohol based treatment which can be used for ballpoints. If the pen states that it contains permanent ink, the stain will be very difficult to get out but, according to a leading detergent specialist, it’s not completely impossible.

The trick is to treat permanent marker stains with products that can break down the oils and alcohols in the ink, exposing the colourants, and allowing you to treat the discolouration in much the same way you would any other stain – through washing! Alcohol is a solvent and is very effective and efficient at breaking down oils and other alcohols found in marker pens.

Persil.com/uk (for further info and a step by step click here)

Highlighter pens

According to my perusal of the Internet, you can try one of three methods. The first two involve using alcohol such as hand sanitiser or hairspray and the third involves using cows milk. As I’m aspiring to be vegan one day, I’ve transitioned to plant based milk and so I have no idea if this works and don’t have such stuff in my fridge but I’ve seen a variety of sites which recommend it. Apparently, you dip the stain in a bowl of the stuff and rub gently with your fingers, then rinse with plain water. Repeat if you still see a stain and then wash as normal. If anyone knows why milk works and if plant based does the job too I would love to hear from you in the comments as I’m a regular user or highlighters such as mildliners and often get covered in them with being a leftie!

Well, I think I’ve covered the main types of pen here but feel free to make further suggestions in the comments of other tricky pens or methods you’ve tried which have worked (or sob about the ones which didn’t!). Hope this post helps you and if not I’m really sorry! Remember, I can’t take responsibility if your favourite garment is wrecked I’m afraid.

Bye for now, Laura (a self confessed stationery addict) xx

Author:

A creative planning and journalling addict who lives in the North East of England, My current passions are my bullet journal, my Traveler's Notebook for memory keeping, my DSLR for taking nature photos, my new watercolour paints and my papercrafting supplies. I also own and run LJDesignsNE on Etsy where I sell pretty and functional goodies to fellow planner and journaling addicts.

6 thoughts on “Stationery mishaps – pen stain removal

    1. It would have definitely been worth a try on a small area wouldn’t it! I’ve heard many stories of kids drawing on walls and floors. Providing lots of paper doesn’t seem to solve the problem either.

      Like

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