How to get ink out of fabric couch

Spilling ink on your fabric couch can be a frustrating and seemingly daunting experience. However, with the right techniques and a bit of elbow grease, you can successfully remove that pesky ink stain and restore your couch to its former glory. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of getting ink out of fabric couches, share some effective stain removal methods, and provide tips to prevent future ink mishaps.

get ink out of fabric couch

Ink Stains on Fabric Couches

Ink stains can be particularly challenging to remove from fabric couches due to the porous nature of the material and the composition of the ink itself. Ink, whether from a pen, marker, or printer, is typically oil-based and can easily seep into the fibres of the fabric, making it difficult to extract.

The longer an ink stain is left untreated, the more it can set and become increasingly difficult to remove. Prompt action is key when dealing with an ink spill on your couch, as it increases the chances of successful stain removal.

Necessary Supplies for Removing Ink Stains

Before you begin the stain removal process, make sure you have the following supplies on hand:

  1. Blotting materials: Clean, white cloth, paper towels, or a sponge.
  2. Stain remover: Rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or a commercial ink stain remover.
  3. Cleaning solution: Mild detergent or dish soap mixed with warm water.
  4. Vacuum cleaner (optional): For removing any remaining ink residue.
  5. Brush (optional): A soft-bristled brush can help agitate the fabric and lift the stain.

Step-by-Step Guide to Removing Ink Stains from Fabric Couches

  1. Act quickly: The sooner you address the ink stain, the better your chances of successful removal. Blot the affected area immediately with a clean, white cloth or paper towel to absorb as much of the ink as possible.
  2. Identify the type of ink: Determine whether the ink is water-based or oil-based, as this will affect the stain removal method. Water-based inks, such as those found in some markers and pens, are generally easier to remove than oil-based inks.
  3. Use a stain remover: Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or a commercial ink stain remover directly onto the affected area. Gently blot the area with a clean cloth, working from the outside of the stain toward the centre to prevent the stain from spreading.
  • For water-based inks, rubbing alcohol or hairspray can be effective in breaking down the ink and lifting the stain.
  • For oil-based inks, a commercial ink stain remover specifically formulated for fabric may work better. Here are some top-rated commercial ink stain removers to consider: Product Features Folex Instant Carpet Spot Remover – Removes a wide range of stains, including ink
    – Safe for use on carpets, upholstery, and fabrics
    – Non-toxic and non-flammable formula Carbona Stain Devils #5 – Ink, Marker, Ball Point Pen – Specifically formulated for ink and marker stains
    – Works on a variety of fabrics, including upholstery
    – Easy-to-use pen-style applicator Sunny & Honey Ink Stain Remover – Plant-based, non-toxic formula
    – Effective on both water-based and oil-based inks
    – Safe for use on delicate fabrics
  1. Wash the affected area: Create a cleaning solution by mixing a small amount of mild detergent or dish soap with warm water. Dip a sponge or soft-bristled brush into the solution and gently scrub the stained area, taking care not to rub the fabric too vigorously, as this can damage the fibres.
  2. Rinse and blot dry: Once you’ve thoroughly scrubbed the stained area, rinse the area with clean water to remove any remaining soap or stain remover. Blot the area dry with a clean, absorbent cloth or paper towel.
  3. Repeat as needed: If the stain is still visible, repeat steps 3-5 until the ink is fully removed. Be patient and persistent, as it may take several rounds of treatment to eliminate the stain.
  4. Allow to air dry: Once the stained area is clean, allow the fabric to air dry completely before using the couch again. Avoid heat-drying, as this can set any remaining stain.
  5. Vacuum the area (optional): After the couch is fully dry, you can use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment to remove any remaining ink residue or loosened fibres.

Effective Ink Stain Removal Methods

In addition to the step-by-step guide, here are some other effective methods for removing ink stains from fabric couches:

  1. Baking soda and water paste: Create a paste by mixing baking soda and water, then gently rub it into the stained area using a soft-bristled brush. Allow the paste to sit for 15-20 minutes before blotting and rinsing.
  2. Vinegar solution: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water, and use a clean cloth to dab the solution onto the stain. Let it sit for a few minutes before blotting and rinsing.
  3. Corn starch: Sprinkle a generous amount of corn starch onto the stain and let it sit for several hours or overnight. The cornstarch will help absorb the ink, making it easier to remove. Vacuum or brush away the corn starch the next day.
  4. Freezing the stain: Place an ice cube directly on the ink stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. The cold temperature can help solidify the ink, making it easier to scrape off with a dull knife or spatula.
  5. Commercial stain removers: Look for stain removal products specifically designed for ink or oil-based stains. Follow the instructions on the product carefully, as some may require letting the solution sit for some time before blotting and rinsing. Here are some highly-rated commercial stain removers for ink and oil-based stains: Product Features Zout Stain Remover – Removes a variety of stains, including ink and grease
    – Safe for use on clothing, upholstery, and carpets
    – Enzyme-based formula OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover – Effective on a wide range of stains, including ink
    – Works on both washable and non-washable fabrics
    – Oxygen-based formula Shout Advanced Stain Remover – Penetrates and lifts tough stains like ink and grease
    – Safe for use on clothing, upholstery, and carpets
    – Comes in a convenient spray bottle

Tips for Preventing Future Ink Stains on Fabric Couches

In addition to mastering stain removal techniques, it’s also important to take proactive steps to prevent future ink spills on your fabric couch. Here are some tips:

  1. Use coasters and placemats: Encourage family members and guests to use coasters or placemats when placing drinks or writing implements on the couch to minimize the risk of accidental spills.
  2. Keep pens and markers away: Store pens, markers, and other writing utensils in a designated location, away from the couch, to reduce the temptation to use them while seated.
  3. Consider using throw blankets or covers: Draping a throw blanket or slipcover over the couch can provide an extra layer of protection against stains and spills.
  4. Act quickly on spills: If a spill does occur, blot the affected area immediately and follow the stain removal steps outlined earlier to prevent the stain from setting.
  5. Regularly clean and maintain the couch: Vacuum and gently spot-clean the couch regularly to remove any dirt, debris, or residual stains that could attract and hold onto new ink stains. To help maintain the appearance and condition of your fabric couch, consider using a fabric protector like the Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector. This product can help repel spills and stains, making it easier to clean up any future accidents.


Removing ink stains from fabric couches may seem daunting, but with the right techniques and a little elbow grease, you can successfully restore your couch to its former glory. By acting quickly, using the appropriate stain removal methods, and implementing preventative measures, you can enjoy your fabric couch for years to come, free from unsightly ink stains.

Remember, patience and persistence are key when dealing with ink stains. With a bit of effort and the guidance provided in this article, you’ll be well on your way to a clean, stain-free couch that looks as good as new.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.