Pen stains on your clothes are bad enough, but they’re truly horrifying when they happen to your lighter clothes. We all know the feeling of seeing a dark blue or black splotch on that white shirt that we loved. Fortunately, pen stains don’t have to mark the end for even the lightest of clothing. There are several quick, easy ways to clean off those stains.
Don’t Spread the Damage
First and foremost, grab a rag and put it right underneath the stain before you try any of these cleaning tricks. The last thing you want to do is wash the stain away, only to find that you’ve just transferred it to another area on your clothing. The rag will soak up the stain before that can happen.
Hit It with Laundry Detergent
No, don’t throw the clothing in the washing machine for this method. You need to apply the laundry detergent more directly to have a better chance at success. Fill up a container with several tablespoons or water, and then add a couple drops of laundry detergent. Make sure to mix it together a bit. Soak a cotton swab or a cotton ball in your diluted detergent, and then gently press that onto the stain. Rub up and down a bit to lather up and clean off the stain. You may need to use multiple cotton balls for this.
Combine Cornstarch and White Vinegar
These two common household items are great for emergency stain removals. Start by soaking the stain in the white vinegar. Mix cornstarch and white vinegar together to create a paste. A good ratio for this is about three parts cornstarch to two parts white vinegar. Apply this paste directly onto the stain and let it dry. Once it’s dry, you can throw the clothing in the laundry and wash it.
Dab It Away with Glycerin
If the word glycerin sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it’s a moisturizer, so you may have seen it on the ingredients list for certain skin care products. It’s also available for purchase at drugstores. You don’t need to mix it with anything, and you’ll use it to clean your clothing the same way you used the laundry detergent. Grab a cotton swab or a cotton ball, soak the end of it in glycerin, and rub that on the stain. Depending on the size of the stain, the job may require multiple cotton swabs or cotton balls.
Spray It Away
Hairspray is good for more than just keeping your hair in place. Since it has a high alcohol content, you can also use it for stain removal, and it’s very easy to do. Simply aim the hairspray at the stain and fire away, then use a rag to rub the ink off. It may take several sprays and a bit of rubbing before you get the entire stain gone. Other alcohol can work for cleaning off pen stains, too, including rubbing alcohol, and you can apply it the same way.
Finish the Job
After you’ve done one of these cleaning tricks, you should wash the clothing like normal, using cold water and laundry detergent. For best results, use bleach for white clothes or color-safe bleach for colored clothes. Once the wash cycle is finished, take a look to make sure that the stain is completely gone before you throw the clothing in the dryer. Heat makes the stain set into the clothing, so any stain will be far tougher to remove if you dry it or even use a hot water wash.
Need another trick to get pen stains out of light clothes? Here you go: