How to get ink stains out of the dryer

Accidentally leaving a pen, marker, or other ink-containing item in your pocket before tossing a load of laundry in the dryer can be a frustrating experience. Dryer heat can “set” ink stains, making them extremely difficult to remove. However, there are several effective methods you can try to get those pesky ink stains out of your dryer and save your clothes.

The sooner you can address an ink stain in the dryer, the better. Acting quickly is key, as letting the stain sit and dry can make it much harder to remove. Read on to learn the best techniques for getting ink out of the dryer.

How to get ink stains out of dryer

What Causes Ink Stains in the Dryer?

Ink stains in the dryer are typically caused by one of a few culprits:

  1. Pens, markers, or other writing instruments left in pockets
  2. Printer or toner cartridges
  3. Ink-based stamps or stickers
  4. Lipstick or other makeup items

When these items get tumbled around in the hot, dry environment of the dryer, the ink can transfer and spread to other fabrics, the interior of the dryer, and even the drum itself.

The heat of the dryer causes the ink to basically “set” into the materials, making it much harder to remove compared to a fresh ink stain. This is why it’s so important to check pockets and other items carefully before tossing a load in the dryer.

Dryer Safe Stain Removal Methods

Fortunately, there are a few effective methods you can try to get ink stains out of the dryer. The key is to act quickly before the stain has a chance to fully set.

Here are some of the best techniques:

1. Baking Soda and Water Paste

One of the simplest and most effective treatments for fresh ink stains in the dryer is a simple baking soda and water paste.

To make the paste, mix 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda with just enough water to form a thick, spreadable paste. Apply this paste directly to the ink stain, rubbing it in gently with your fingers or a soft cloth.

Let the paste sit on the stain for 15-20 minutes before wiping it away with a damp cloth. The baking soda will help to lift and absorb the ink, while the water helps to activate the cleaning properties.

If the stain is still visible, you can repeat the process until it’s removed. Be sure to check the fabric for any remaining discolouration before drying.

2. Hairspray

Believe it or not, regular old hairspray can be an effective dryer-safe stain remover for ink. The alcohol-based ingredients in most hairsprays help to break down and lift ink stains.

Simply spray the affected area liberally with hairspray, then blot the stain with a clean, white cloth or paper towel. You may need to repeat this process a few times to fully remove the ink.

Hairspray works best on fresh, wet ink stains. If the stain has already dried, you may need to lightly dampen the area with water before applying the hairspray.

For a highly effective hairspray option, consider trying a product like Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Hairspray. This strong-hold hairspray contains alcohol and other ingredients that can help tackle tough ink stains.

3. Rubbing Alcohol

Another dryer-friendly stain remover is rubbing alcohol. The high concentration of alcohol helps to dissolve and lift ink stains.

Dip a clean cloth or cotton ball into some rubbing alcohol, then gently dab it onto the ink stain. Avoid rubbing too hard, as this can spread the stain. Instead, blot the area gently until the stain starts to lift.

You may need to repeat this process a few times, allowing the alcohol to fully penetrate the stain before blotting. Be sure to check the fabric afterwards for any remaining discolouration.

For an extra-strength rubbing alcohol option, try Medline Sterile Isopropyl Alcohol Prep Pads. These pre-moistened pads contain 70% isopropyl alcohol to tackle tough stains.

4. Chalk

Believe it or not, plain old chalk can also be an effective ink stain remover, even in the dryer. The absorbent nature of chalk helps to draw the ink out of the fabric.

Simply rub a piece of white chalk directly onto the ink stain, making sure to cover the entire affected area. Let the chalk sit for 15-20 minutes, then brush or wipe it away. The chalk should have absorbed much of the ink, leaving the fabric clean.

If the stain is still visible, repeat the chalk treatment until it’s fully removed. This method works best on fresh, wet ink stains.

For a convenient chalk option, consider investing in a Crayola Anti-Stain Chalk Set. This set includes multiple pieces of white chalk specifically designed for removing stains.

5. Enzyme Cleaner

For tougher, set-in ink stains, an enzyme cleaner may be your best bet. Enzyme cleaners contain special enzymes that help to break down and lift stains, including dried ink.

Look for an enzyme-based stain remover specifically made for use in the laundry, such as Biz Advanced Laundry Detergent. Apply it directly to the ink stain according to the product instructions, then toss the item back in the dryer. The heat will help activate the enzymes and lift the stain.

You may need to repeat the enzyme cleaner treatment a few times for heavily set-in ink stains. Be sure to check the fabric carefully afterwards to ensure the stain is fully removed.

Avoiding Dryer Ink Stains

Of course, the best way to deal with ink stains in the dryer is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips for avoiding dryer ink mishaps:

  • Always check pockets, cuffs, and other areas carefully before washing and drying. Remove any pens, markers, or other ink-containing items.
  • Wash newly purchased clothing, even if it looks clean. New items may have hidden ink stains from the manufacturing process.
  • Treat any ink stains as soon as possible, before washing and drying. The longer a stain sits, the harder it will be to remove.
  • Consider using a mesh laundry bag or lingerie bag to wash small items that may contain ink, like socks or handkerchiefs.
  • Inspect the dryer drum periodically for any built-up ink stains, and wipe it down if necessary using a dryer cleaning product like Carbona Washing Machine Cleaner.

By being vigilant and acting quickly, you can help prevent those dreaded dryer ink stains and keep your clothes looking their best.

Removing Ink Stains from the Dryer Itself

Unfortunately, ink stains don’t just affect your clothing – they can also leave behind unsightly marks on the interior of your dryer. Over time, these stains can build up and become harder to remove.

If you notice ink stains on the dryer drum or other interior surfaces, try these cleaning methods:

1. Baking Soda and Vinegar

A simple baking soda and white vinegar solution can be an effective dryer stain remover. Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of white vinegar to form a paste.

Spread the paste over the affected areas of the dryer, then let it sit for 15-20 minutes. This will help to break down and lift the dried ink stains. Wipe the paste away with a damp cloth, then dry the dryer thoroughly.

You may need to repeat this process a few times for heavily stained areas. The baking soda and vinegar combo will help dissolve and lift the stains without damaging the dryer’s interior.

2. Rubbing Alcohol

Much like the method for removing ink stains from clothing, rubbing alcohol can also be used to clean the dryer itself. Dip a clean cloth into some rubbing alcohol and use it to gently scrub the stained areas.

The alcohol will help to break down and dissolve the ink, allowing you to wipe it away. Be sure to focus on the drum, as well as any other affected interior surfaces.

3. Commercial Dryer Cleaner

For a more heavy-duty solution, look for a commercial dryer cleaning product, such as Affresh Dryer Cleaner. These are specially formulated to tackle tough stains and buildup inside the dryer.

Follow the product instructions carefully, applying the cleaner to the affected areas and letting it sit as directed. You may need to do a few rounds of cleaning to fully remove all traces of ink stains.

Be sure to thoroughly wipe away any residue and run a dry cycle to ensure the dryer is completely clean before using it again.

Preventing Future Dryer Ink Stains

Once you’ve successfully removed those pesky ink stains from your dryer, it’s important to take steps to prevent future mishaps. Here are some tips:

  • Thoroughly check pockets and other areas before washing and drying clothes. Don’t assume an item is “clean” just because it looks that way.
  • Consider using a mesh laundry bag or lingerie bag to wash small items that may contain ink.
  • Wipe down the dryer drum periodically with a damp cloth or use a dryer cleaning product to remove any built-up stains or residue.
  • Use a dryer cleaning product every few months to keep the interior surfaces fresh and stain-free, like Affresh Dryer Cleaner.
  • If you do accidentally leave an ink item in the dryer, address the stain as soon as possible using one of the methods outlined above.

By staying vigilant and acting quickly, you can help keep your dryer and your clothes looking their best, free from those dreaded ink stains.


Ink stains in the dryer can be a frustrating problem, but with the right cleaning techniques, they don’t have to ruin your laundry. From simple baking soda and water pastes to more heavy-duty commercial cleaners, there are several effective ways to tackle those pesky dryer ink stains.

The key is to act quickly before the stain has a chance to fully set. By addressing the issue right away and using the appropriate stain removal methods, you can lift that ink and get your clothes and dryer back to pristine condition.

With a little elbow grease and the right know-how, you can conquer those dreaded dryer ink stains and keep your laundry looking its best. So the next time you accidentally leave a pen in your pocket, don’t panic – just pull out these tips and get to work!

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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.