Ink stain treatment after a laundry cycle?
August 23, 2005 11:26 PM   Subscribe

A load of laundry i just took out of the dryer appears to be completly ruined. I left a ball point pen in a pocket and it went thru the washer/dryer spilling all of it's horrible blackness all over my clothes. Is there any hope????? Any suggestions for attempting to treat them? I've googled for it but only found treatments pre-wash.. I never thought i would have such an attachment to clothes but a few of them are new and a few of them have sentimental value from a few triathlons I have done.. any help would be MUCH appreciated!
posted by joshgray to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total)
You are probably screwed, Joshgray, and there are a few things you could try that will probably only help a little (I speak from experience). Take the good stuff to the dry cleaner and see if they can do anything.
posted by puddinghead at 11:52 PM on August 23, 2005

I second the screwed comment from experience. Try the dry cleaner but don't expect a miracle. Any clothes you would like to save and wear in public might be better if you bought a box of black rit dye and tried to dye the clothes to match/cover the stain. This has been my only success in salvaging the clothes in the past.
posted by arruns at 12:10 AM on August 24, 2005

When supermarkets marked the prices on cans, then had to change the noxious purple ink mark, they used hair spray. I was able to remove a huge red wine punch stain in a white table cloth by using a solution of dish washer soap well dissolved in water. If the ink is not permanent, Spray and Wash might help.
If you feel adventurous, you might try any of the above on the rattiest least valuable garment. Chlorine bleach is probably not a good idea for anything but white cotton, and be aware that undiluted bleach is strong stuff that might eat holes even in cotton.
Of course, I am not a professional laundress, so ymmv. THere are so manyartificial fibers and blends that spot removal is always a risk. Good luck.
posted by Cranberry at 12:14 AM on August 24, 2005

One fallback option is dying everything black....
posted by curtm at 12:19 AM on August 24, 2005

Motsenbocker's LiftOff formulas are usually freakishly effective, but a quantity big enough to soak an entire load of laundry would probably be prohibitively expensive. But if some of the items could be salvaged with spot treatments, give this one a shot.

Heloise recommends hairspray or nail polish remover, but again those are really only useful for spot treatment (after testing for colorfastness).

Good luck!
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:44 AM on August 24, 2005

Sadly this happened to us recently after my smart smart brother left a biro in his shirt pocket. It was a white wash.
My mum did recognise immediately that this had happened and put my brother's shirt straight back into the machine while it was damp, and the stains were removed. But everything that dried (just a flanned and some tea towels) were ruined.
So my point was (probably not helpful to you but maybe someone else in the future?) that I think the stains can be removed if the item is still damp/wet.
posted by trampesque at 1:56 AM on August 24, 2005

This happened to me recently too. I painstakingly rubbed Shout into all the spots and let it sit for a couple hours. They came out of the garments with higher synthetic fiber contents -- the mostly-cotton stuff was hopeless.
posted by kmel at 4:06 AM on August 24, 2005

I got some roller ball red ink out of a shirt by using paint remover. It didn't damage the cotton fabric, but try it in a hidden spot.
posted by jjj606 at 5:27 AM on August 24, 2005

Isn't this precisely the kind of problem they used on the advertisements for Oxyclean? The 'ol pen-left-in-the-pants OH NO... wait, don't clean it! Oxyclean it! Worth a try.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:10 AM on August 24, 2005

I second Civil. That's what I came here to post.
posted by scazza at 6:12 AM on August 24, 2005

I think the crucial issue is whether or not the clothes have gone through the heat of the dryer, which, in my experience, always sets stains. If something is kept wet or air dries, you usually can find something that will remove the stain.

But try various methods anayway. If something works, let us know!
posted by maudlin at 6:29 AM on August 24, 2005

We did this recently, all the way through the dryer. We treated all the spots with Lestoil and then washed them again. None of them came out perfect, but most of them are wearable again with only small smudges where big blue marks used to be.
posted by jessamyn at 6:37 AM on August 24, 2005

How ironic that your username is joshGRAY. Poor thing.
posted by tristeza at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2005

You can try 'waterless hand cleaner", glop it on and scrub with a tooth brush. You can also try alcohol, blot it with a papertowel (don't rub) and change the towel often. Tedious, but might work it there is something you really want to save that just has a few stains.
posted by 445supermag at 7:27 AM on August 24, 2005

Soak in OxyClean. Soak again in OxyClean.
posted by mkultra at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2005

Try Goof Off or Spot Shot.
posted by tomierna at 10:28 AM on August 24, 2005

This happened to me last year. Everything had gone through the dryer so I assumed it was all ruined, but I was able to return several sentimentally valuable cotton t-shirts to wearable status using cotton squares soaked in nail polish remover. I blotted rather than rubbed, and moved frequently to a clean section of cotton square. After working on the shirts for a while I treated all the spots with Shout, threw the clothes in the wash again (no dryer!), and repeated several times until the stains were gone. It worked pretty well, but I only had the energy to save a couple of items because the process was so tedious.
posted by purplemonkie at 5:45 PM on August 24, 2005

My mother, laundry queen, uses hairspray to get ink out. This works.
posted by mai at 3:48 PM on August 25, 2005


Oxyclean (along with another random spray cleaner i picked up randomly) did the trick for the majority of spots on the synthetics! Luckily those were the important ones! The cotton shirts have no hope lol....

Thanks for all the tips!!!
posted by joshgray at 6:38 PM on August 25, 2005

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