How To Remove Printer Ink

Whether it’s during the replacement of cartridges or faulty printing, it’s not impossible to get printer ink/toner stains from your hands and clothes.

You may also spill some on your carpet or even on the paper you were about to use or just printed out.

Whatever the scenario, these ink stains are a big no-no and an unwanted surprise that no one asked for. But life is unpredictable and accidents are an inevitable part of it.

This doesn’t mean all accidents are irreversible;so, there is no need to lose your head when faced with printer ink stains. Once you know how to remove printer ink effectively using the right methods we’re about to discuss, your printing experience is sure to become a whole lot simpler!

Steps To Remove Printer Ink From Hands

How To Remove Printer Ink From Hands
How To Remove Printer Ink From Hands

Your hands are probably the first subject most susceptible to getting stained by printer ink.

Before we move on to how to remove them, you need to understand that there are two kinds of printer ink; and the methods to remove them are different.

Inkjet printers use liquid ink whereas laser printers use toners which is basically powdered ink.

When removing either one of these from your hands, the following methods can be adopted for effective removal. For fastest removal, don’t let the ink sit for too long and remove them while the stains are still fresh.

  1. Soaking your hands in warm detergent water for some time before scrubbing the ink off is the most basic and safest home remedy against ink/toner stains when they are still fresh.
  2. Feel free to use a mixture of baking soda along with lemon juice to clean off the stains. Once they come off, wash your hands with warm water and moisturize your them.
  3. Rubbing alcohol is a common household item to effectively remove ink or toner from your hands. When the ink comes off, use a moisturizing lotion to soften the skin as it may dry out.
  4. Tea tree oil can be used too and upon scrubbing with something like a toothbrush, the ink/toner should come get removed easily.
  5. Nail polish remover is also a great alternative. Just use it the same way as you would use rubbing alcohol.
  6. If you find some glass cleaner lying around, that’ll work as well.
  7. Though it sounds weird, hair spray does the trick too! Just spray it to the stains, let it sit a while so that the ink/toner dissolves, then finish up by washing your hands with soap and water.
  8. Baby oil removes both the stain and dryness from your skin like a boss!
  9. Though a tad aggressive on your skin, bleach is a powerful ingredient to remove ink/toner stains.
  10. Mix bleach and water in a 1:10 ratio and apply on your hands’ stains with a cloth in a rubbing motion until all the ink comes off. Immediately wash off your hands with soap water and moisturize.
  11. Hand cleaning solutions or wipes designed for grease removal are effective against ink/toner stains as well.

How To Remove Printer Ink From Clothes

Before proceeding to remove print ink/toner from your clothes, first and foremost check their labels. This is crucial in order to ensure which cleaning/removal method is appropriate for your fabric.

1. How To Remove Inkjet Ink From Fabric

For Old Stain:

  • Apply a tiny amount of soap or detergent to the stained area.
  • Start scrubbing with a toothbrush on the target area.
  • If your garment allows, use a 50-50 bleach and water solution to scrub the area if the stain doesn’t want to come off with detergent alone.
  • If bleach isn’t permitted on the garment, you can try using a pretreatment mixture made of vinegar (white), liquid detergent, and water. To a liter of water, add two and three tablespoons of the detergent and vinegar respectively.
  • After scrubbing is complete, immediately wash the cloth in cold water.
  • Dry the cloth by letting it hang. Don’t use any heat source such as a dryer as it would cause the residual ink particles to set.

For Fresh Stain:

Method 1

  • Using a piece of cloth soaked in cold water, dab off the excess ink.
  • Let the ink stain dry in the air naturally.
  • Dab the affected area with alcohol rub or hairspray and let the cloth soak it up.
  • Place the stained area of the cloth among paper towels and keep blotting them.
  • Don’t use the same area of the paper towel to dab the cloth as the ink will only transfer back into the cloth and spread out.
  • Continue the process until all the ink comes off.

If the cloth is white, you can directly wash it off in cold water with bleach as soon as possible. For colored clothes, you can use a diluted mixture of ammonia and detergent along with a cold-water wash. Never use warm or hot water as you’ll only cause the ink to set into the fabric more.

Method 2

  • Similar to method 1 we discussed above, upon confirming that the cloth is washable, dab away the excess ink as much as possible.
  • Then soak the stained cloth with alcohol or hairspray and continue the dabbing process.
  • Next, flush the residual ink stain with alcohol and allow the cloth to completely dry.
  • Since alcohol is not capable of washing off all ink particles, especially water-based ones, proceed to wash the cloth in warm detergent water.
  • Scrub the affected surface with salt.
  • Soak the cloth in a bowl of lemon juice and milk mixture overnight and wash off with cold water the next day.

2. How To Remove Laser Printer Toner From Fabric

Since toner is basically dry powdered ink that sets in with heat, you’d need to adopt a different approach to remove toner stains as follows.

  • You can start by trying to vacuum the toner-stained area.
  • If you’re wearing the cloth, take it off shake it vigorously to cause the toner particles to fall off.
  • Using a soft brush, gently brush off the toner particles without rubbing as or else the toner will penetrate deeper into your cloth.
  • Soak the stain with rubbing alcohol or hairspray.
  • Keep blotting on both sides of the cloth with a cloth dampened with alcohol.
  • Wash off the cloth in cold water and soap/detergent until the rest of the toner comes off.
  • Dry the cloth naturally away from direct sunlight or heat sources.

How To Remove Printer Ink From Carpet

Removing ink stains from carpet is similar to the methods for removing them off your clothes, but with a little more work.This is because carpets are more fibrous and you’d need to scrub more vigorously.

Before scrubbing, blot/dab away excess ink/toner. Never rub the stain as you’ll only be pushing the particles deeper into the fibers. Then use either detergent solution, bleach solution, or pretreatment solution and scrub while blotting away the ink that comes off.

Coldwater wash is your best solution after the scrubbing process. Wash your carpet with cold water to complete the printer ink removal.

How To Remove Printed Ink From Paper

Say you’re wondering how to remove printer ink from checks- a vital piece of paper. Unlike for clothes, ink removal from paper is more sensitive and needs to be done with care.

For major ink stains, it is best to print the project again as removing large stains will not be ideal or worth it and might ruin the overall quality of your project. When the stains are minor, you can try out the following methods below.

1. Inkjet Ink

  • If the ink spill is fresh, chances are, that it’s still wet. Hence, you can take a moist cotton ball to lightly blot away all the ink from the stain gently.
  • In case of a newly dried-up ink stain, you can attempt to scrape off the top layer of your project’s paper where ink is in contact. Do so with a razor blade or sandpaper.
  • If all else fails, just take a whiteout correction tape or pen once the ink stain has completely dried. Even though the whiteout may not entirely match the white color of your paper, but it sure is far better than those nasty and dark ink splotches!

2. Laser Toner

  • Since toners settle into the paper fibers as soon as it has been spilled, you need to handle it as soon as possible by removing the excess. Take a cotton ball dampened with acetone and dab on the toner stain to dissolve some of the toners.
  • You can use transparent tape on the toner stain and gently peel it off to allow the tape’s sticky part of the tape to take off the toner from your project.
  • If the above two methods aren’t sufficient, move on to scraping the top layer of the paper off just like with inkjet ink using sandpaper or razor. Keep repeating the process carefully and clean off the residual stain with damp cotton swabs.
  • When all else fails, let whiteout liquids save the day.

3. How To Remove Printer Ink From Paper Without Damaging The Paper

  • When dabbing with a cotton ball, do not rub the paper surface. This may leave unpleasant grey patches on your paper, leading you to require reprinting.
  • When scraping off the top paper layer, do so in single motions in the same direction and be careful not to cause tears.
  • Before using tape to peel off toner, do so with utmost care so as not to peel off the paper. Test out the process on a spare piece of paper to ensure so.
  • Try to clean off the ink as soon as possible as it will make the removal process easier and quicker. As a result, the paper will face lesser pressure of the removal processes.

How To Prevent Printer Ink From Spilling (Or At least Try)

While removing printer ink is not usually too complex, what’s better is not having your hands, clothes, paper, carpet, etc. stained in the first place.

There are some precautions you can take before and during printing to ensure a mess-free experience.

  • Check if your printer has a faulty/broker cartridge that requires a repair or replacement. This is one of the first methods you can avoid ink bleeding too much on your media.
  • When refilling/replacing cartridges, wear one-time gloves to protect your hands against ink stains.
  • Cover your working area with newspaper, spare cloth, or placemat to prevent ink spilling on your workstation.
  • Place your printer in a safe area where there are no sensitive materials around such as your carpet, furniture, etc.
  • Before printing, try printing test projects to ensure that the printer ink/toner is working perfectly.
  • Work in an uncluttered area to reduce the chance of messy operation and keep the unused media stack away from the printer.


When concerned either about how to erase printed ink paper or ink-stained clothes, carpets, etc., simple home remedies and careful handling can save your items.

It is always better to be safe than sorry while accepting that an oops-moment can happen to anyone anytime.

The printer ink removal methods differ slightly based on whether it’s an inkjet ink to laser toner.

But now that you know how to remove printer ink from your essential items, your printing experience is sure to get smoother like never before!

About Dror Wettenstein

Dror Wettenstein is a software engineer and entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the industry. He is the founder of TechTreeRepeat, a company that enables technical writers to publish their work faster and share it with readers across the globe. Dror has a master’s degree in computer science from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from UC Irvine.

When he’s not working on software projects, Dror enjoys writing articles and essays on various topics. He also likes playing guitar and spending time with his wife and two young children.

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