Clothing Care Question from a Mom in Need

My son had an ink pen in his jeans and it leaked.  Is there hope?  You are so kind to offer help and I thank you.

From the Clothing Doctor:

The type of ink can vary. It could be ballpoint or water based. The first responds mostly to ink removers with solvent or an oily base and, the second respond only to water-based stain removers. I have a few questions to ask so I can guide you properly:

  • Is the ink absorbed and thick, like a blob?
  • What size is the spot … dime size – bigger or smaller?
  • What color ink?
  • Are the jeans blue?
  • New, or old and faded?
  • Have you tried anything yet? Did you wash the jeans or dry them in the machine?


From Mom

Holy cow, looks like we acted too hastily…we’ve tried to distress them and now the jeans are history.  Just for the record, the spot was half dollar sized and thoroughly soaked into the jeans inside and out.  I worked the spot first with Final Net hairspray, soaking and blotting, soaking and blotting, for over an hour.  It was like an ink stamp – always blotting dark ink on the paper towel but not getting a bit lighter.  After an hour of this, I started again with the hairspray and a toothbrush, then “rinsing” the hairspray through the jeans into my paper towel blotter with isopropyl alcohol. I must have blotted ink covering 30 sheets of paper towel.  After a while, the “blots” started fading and getting lighter on the paper towel but the spot wasn’t getting any lighter.

I then tried Oxi-Clean, working it through both sides with a toothbrush, rinsing it through with hairspray and more alcohol.  This allowed me to get a little more ink to blot up, but the spot still did not lighten. I quit after almost 3 hours when no more ink was appearing on the paper towel, yet the spot never did get any lighter… perhaps a bit smaller but couldn’t swear to that.  I do wonder what I should have done differently though.


From The Clothing Doctor

Bless you for trying! What we do for our kids. Almost any ink stain the size of a 50-cent piece, or larger, is best cut out and patched. As you learned, they bleed for hours, take up countless cloths and, at best, lighten, but don’t come out!  A drycleaner would have had to do the same, but would have known at the start that it would have been hopeless.