How to get ink stains out of carpet

Spilling ink on your carpet can be a nightmare. Whether it’s from a leaky pen, a marker, or an inkjet printer, ink stains can leave unsightly blemishes on your flooring that are challenging to remove. However, with the right techniques and tools, you can often successfully get ink out of the carpet and restore your floors to their former glory.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the best methods for removing ink stains from carpets, as well as share some tips and tricks to prevent ink spills in the first place. Read on to learn how to tackle even the toughest ink stains and keep your carpets looking their best.

remove an ink stain from carpet

What Causes Ink Stains on Carpet?

Ink stains occur when liquid ink comes into contact with porous surfaces like carpet fibres. The ink can then soak into the carpet, making it difficult to remove. Common causes of ink stains on carpets include:

  • Leaking pens or markers
  • Spilled ink from printers or inkjet cartridges
  • Accidental splatter from arts and crafts projects
  • The ink from newspapers or magazines that transfer to the carpet

Ink stains can vary in size and severity depending on the amount of ink spilled and how quickly the stain is treated. The longer an ink stain sits, the deeper it can penetrate the carpet fibres, making it more stubborn to remove.

Identifying the Type of Ink Stain

Before you begin treating an ink stain, it’s important to identify the type of ink you’re dealing with. This will help you choose the most effective cleaning method. Common types of ink stains include:

  1. Ballpoint pen ink: This type of ink is oil-based and can be challenging to remove from the carpet. Ballpoint pen ink often appears blue, black, or red.
  2. Marker ink: Marker inks are typically alcohol-based and can bleed and spread more easily on carpets compared to ballpoint pen ink. Marker stains often appear in bold, vibrant colours.
  3. Printer ink: Inkjet printer ink is water-based and can sometimes be easier to treat than oil-based ink. Printer ink stains may appear in a variety of colours depending on the cartridge that leaked.
  4. India ink: This type of black ink is highly pigmented and can be one of the most difficult ink stains to remove from a carpet. India ink is often used for calligraphy and art projects.

Identifying the type of ink can help you choose the right cleaning products and techniques to tackle the stain effectively.

Treating Fresh Ink Stains

The key to successfully removing an ink stain from a carpet is to act quickly. The sooner you can treat a fresh stain, the better your chances of getting it out completely. Follow these steps to tackle a new ink spill:

  1. Blot the stain. Use a clean, white cloth or paper towel to gently blot the affected area. Avoid rubbing, as this can cause the ink to spread and further embed into the carpet fibres.
  2. Apply a cleaning solution. There are several effective cleaning solutions you can use for fresh ink stains, including:
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap and water
  • Carpet cleaner designed for ink stains

Apply the solution directly to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate the fibres.

  1. Blot and repeat. After letting the solution sit, blot the area again with a clean cloth or paper towel. You may need to repeat the application and blotting process several times to fully lift the stain.
  2. Rinse with cold water. Once the stain has been lifted, rinse the area with cold water to remove any remaining cleaning solution.
  3. Blot dry. Use clean, absorbent towels to soak up any excess moisture from the carpet.

It’s important to work quickly and avoid letting the stain dry, as this can make it much harder to remove later. If the stain persists, you may need to try a stronger cleaning method.

More Examples of Fresh Ink Stain Removal

In addition to the cleaning solutions mentioned above, there are a few other household items you can try for fresh ink stains:

  • Club soda: The carbonation in club soda can help lift and break down the ink. Simply pour some club soda directly onto the stain and blot with a clean cloth.
  • Milk: The enzymes in milk can help dissolve the ink. Pour a small amount of milk onto the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before blotting and rinsing.
  • Cornstarch: Make a paste with cornstarch and water, then apply it to the stain and let it sit for 15-20 minutes before vacuuming up.

Be sure to test any cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discolouration or damage to your carpet.

Treating Set-in Ink Stains

If an ink stain has been sitting on your carpet for a while, it may have had time to set and penetrate deeper into the fibres. In this case, you’ll need to use more robust cleaning methods to try and lift the stain. Here’s how:

  1. Pretreat the stain. Apply a carpet stain remover or enzyme-based cleaner directly to the affected area. Let it sit for the recommended time, usually 5-10 minutes, to allow the solution to penetrate the fibres.
  2. Blot and scrub. After the pretreatment has had time to work, blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel. You can also try gently scrubbing the area with a soft-bristle brush to help agitate the stain.
  3. Use an extraction cleaner. For set-in ink stains, you may need to use a carpet extraction cleaner. This type of cleaner uses a combination of heat and suction to deeply penetrate the carpet and lift out the stain.
  4. Repeat as needed. Depending on the severity of the stain, you may need to repeat the pretreatment, blotting, and extraction cleaning process several times to fully remove the ink.
  5. Rinse and dry. Once the stain has been lifted, rinse the area with clean water and blot dry with towels. Make sure to allow the carpet to fully dry before walking on it.

If the ink stain is still visible after several cleaning attempts, you may need to consider more heavy-duty options, such as calling in a professional carpet cleaning service.

Commercial Products for Set-in Ink Stains

In addition to DIY cleaning methods, there are several commercial products designed specifically for removing set-in ink stains from carpets:

Chem-Dry Ink Master– Enzymatic formula that breaks down ink particles
– Safe for use on a variety of carpet types
– Can be used in conjunction with a carpet extraction machine
Folex Carpet Spot Remover– Removes a wide range of stains, including ink
– Uses a non-toxic, water-based formula
– Safe for use on both synthetic and natural fiber carpets
Carbona Stain Devils #9– Formulated to remove ink, marker, and pen stains
– Contains solvents to penetrate and lift set-in stains
– Gentle enough for use on colourfast carpets

Always test any commercial cleaning product in an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discolouration to your carpet.

Preventing Future Ink Stains

In addition to knowing how to treat ink stains, it’s also important to take steps to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are some tips:

  1. Use ink-resistant pens and markers. Look for pens and markers that are specifically designed to be less likely to leak or bleed.
  2. Be cautious with ink-based printers. Keep your printer well-maintained and avoid placing it directly on the carpet. Use a printer stand or desk to minimize the risk of spills.
  3. Keep ink supplies stored safely. Store pens, markers, and printer cartridges in a designated area away from the carpet to prevent accidental spills.
  4. Clean up spills immediately. If you do have an ink spill, act quickly to blot and clean it before it has a chance to set.
  5. Consider using an area rug or floor mat. Placing area rugs or floor mats in high-traffic areas can help protect your carpet from a variety of stains, including ink.

By being proactive and taking steps to prevent ink stains, you can keep your carpets looking their best and minimize the need for extensive cleaning and stain removal.


Removing ink stains from carpet can be a challenging task, but with the right techniques and tools, it is often possible to restore your flooring to its original condition. Whether you’re dealing with a fresh spill or a set-in stain, the key is to act quickly and use the appropriate cleaning methods for the type of ink involved.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively tackle even the toughest ink stains and keep your carpets looking their best. Remember to also take preventative measures, such as using ink-resistant pens and storing your ink supplies safely, to minimize the risk of future spills.

With a little elbow grease and the right cleaning approach, you can say goodbye to unsightly ink stains and enjoy clean, beautiful carpets in your home.

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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.