Sunday, 30 January 2011

Ink Stain Removal - How to Remove Ink Stains

Pen problem 
Whether you are a school going kid, college going youngster or the office going executive - one thing that is experienced at some point in time by everyone is getting those highly noticeable blotches of ink stains on your clothing. Tablecloths and carpets at home too are susceptible to ink spilling from someone overfilling his fountain pen, or a leaking ball pen/gel pen.

Different types of ink 
Writing ink come in many forms. The composition of inks that are used for fountain pens, ball-point pens, and gel pens vary from each other. Fountain pen inks are water based. The additives used today are mostly synthetic as compared to previously used vegetable based additives. Gel pens contain gel ink which is a synthetic color pigment in a water based gel. Ball point pens use a synthetic colorant with an alcohol solvent in a thick paste which is usually oil based. Common colors for inks are blue, black, red and green. Imagine what colors can be created by mixing these four colours - limitless.

Most of the inks today are prepared in such a manner that they dry very quickly and also leave a permanent mark. This is really bad news if you spill ink on one of your expensive garments.

Initial care when ink spills 
Fortunately ink stains can be removed from your clothes/carpet if proper care is taken right from the time the ink is spilled. Ink from a fountain pen is easier to remove than ink from a ball point pen. Always remember that whatever the type of ink, it is always easier to remove ink that is still wet. Ink that has dried up makes it all the more difficult to remove.

Most of the time when you realise that ink has spilled on your clothing, you will not be at a place where you have access to most of the ingredients that will help remove the stain. Do not panic at such times. Just make sure that the stain is not allowed to dry up. Keep the affected area moist using water. This will help in easing the process of stain removal. If the stain is allowed to dry up, it can be removed later, but with a great amount of difficulty.

Rules to follow 
There are quite a few tried and tested methods to remove ink stains. Certain rules are common to all ink stains and must be followed. One rule is never ever soak the fabric in hot water. Many mistakenly think that hot water will dissolve and dissipate the ink. Fact is that hot water will only worsen the situation since it sets the stain and you may never be able to fully get the stain out later.

Removing ink stains 
One method of removing ink stains from fabric is to soak the fabric in cold water first. Use blotting paper to blot out as much of the ink as possible. This must be done as gently as possible, because using immense pressure to try and get out as much ink as possible will only set the ink more firmly into the fabric. Next, place a few super absorbent tissues on any hard surface. Place the fabric with the ink stain over this. Place a few more super absorbent tissues over the fabric. Place some heavy weight over this. Leave for a couple of minutes. The tissues will soak up as much ink as is possible. If the tissue has soaked up a lot of ink and you feel that more can be soaked up, redo this process using fresh super absorbent tissues. Now spray the stained area with hair spray. This will help in loosening the remaining ink. While it is still wet, redo the step of placing super absorbent tissue papers above and below the stained fabric with a heavy weight on top. Wait for a couple of minutes. The stain should be gone. Wash the garment with lukewarm water.

If the stain is not gone even after blotting out the hair spray from the garment, allow the fabric to dry completely. Prepare a solution of water and white vinegar (both in equal proportion). Allow the stained area to soak in this solution for some time. Using an old toothbrush lightly brush the affected area keeping the fabric soaked in the vinegar solution. Keep brushing lightly till the stain vanishes. Once the stain is gone soak the garment in cold water. Wash and dry normally.

Commercial ink stain removers 
Many ink dissolvers/solvents are available in the market today. Keep one handy at home. You never know when it might be required. Make sure to follow instructions on the label. Most of the ink removers in the market are concentrated and strong - always try out a little on some hidden area of the garment to test for any adverse effects.

Points to remember while removing ink stains 
Always use the best quality highly absorbent tissues.
If using super absorbent cloth over the stained area, ensure that the cloth is white. Colored cloth could run color and stain the affected area even more.
Never pour or immerse the stained garment in hot water.
If the stain remains even after you have tried all the remedies, do not use harsh chemicals or solvents on the fabric. This will ruin the garment and might make it unusable.
The best option if the stain is stubborn is to give the garment to a laundry to try and remove the stain. If that too is not possible, then get the garment dyed to a darker color than the original.