How to Get Printer Ink Off Hands & Clothing

By | February 24, 2021
how to get printer ink off your hands
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If you have ever owned a printer (or changed out the ink cartridges / toner in a company printer), then you have likely experienced one of the main downsides of printer use: ink and toner stains. 

However, all hope is not lost! In this article, we will review a myriad of techniques you can use to get printer stains off of your hands, skin, and clothing with minimal effort. 


Ink Stains on Hands / Skin

Before we go through the methods you can use to remove ink stains from your hands or skin, it is important to cover one big safety note: Do Not Mix Methods.

While all of these methods are safe on their own (when done properly), mixing chemicals can potentially lead to unexpected and dangerous results. As a result, make sure you fully finish one method and clean up any excess chemicals before trying something new. 

Without further ado, here are the top 9 ways to remove ink stains from your hands and skin:

1. Bleach:

Whenever I do something, I typically prefer to go with the most guaranteed route first. While there are less intense cleaning methods on this list, bleach is arguably the most successful for dried ink stains on your skin. 

To use: Mix a solution that is 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. Rub solution vigorously on the affected area until the stain is no longer visible. Once removed, clean hands with soap, water, and a clean cloth to remove all remaining bleach from the skin. 

If using cloths, make sure you only use white or old cloths, as bleach can remove the color from fabrics.

2. Nail Polish Remover:

Acetone, the active ingredient in nail polish remover, is great for removing ink from the skin and under or around the nails. 

To use: Situate yourself in a well-ventilated area to allow the acetone fumes to dissipate. Spread a small amount of nail polish remover on the affected area and scrub with a cloth or brush until the stain is no longer visible. Once removed, wash hands with soap and water to remove the remaining nail polish remover. 

3. Rubbing Alcohol:

Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is a great stain remover for various stains. 

To use: For printer ink, pour the rubbing alcohol on a cloth or cotton ball, and then rub on the affected area until the stain is removed. You may have to use several cotton balls or several sections of the cloth before the stain is fully gone. 

Once the stain is no longer visible, wash with soap and water, and then apply lotion to keep the rubbing alcohol from drying out your skin. 

4. Hairspray:

I know; I was skeptical too. However, hair spray can actually help remove ink stains from your skin. 

To use: Spray hairspray on the stained area. Let the hair spray sit on your skin for a couple of minutes, then wash it off with soap and water. Repeat the process until the stain is completely removed. 

5. Glass Cleaner: 

Have you seen the scenes in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where Windex fixes everything? It turns out that wasn’t entirely incorrect. Glass cleaner can actually help remove ink stains from your skin.

To use: Spray the glass cleaner on the affected area of your skin. Let the glass cleaner sit on your skin for a minute, and then rub the inky area with a paper towel. Wash the area with soap and water. If the stain remains, repeat the process until it is no longer visible. 

6. Baby Oil:

Baby oil is by far the safest ink removal option on the list and is extremely effective for wet ink. However, if the ink has dried on your ink, baby oil will not be as successful as other methods.

To use: Apply baby oil to a cloth or cotton ball and rub on the affected area. You may need to repeat the process several times before the ink is fully removed. 

7. Tea Tree Oil:

Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, is used to treat many ailments, including acne, lice, insect bites, and some fungal infections. Surprisingly, it can also be used to remove ink stains on your skin.

To use: Situate yourself somewhere that is well ventilated. For all of its healing properties, tea tree oil is strongly scented (typically, people either love it or hate it). Apply a few drops to a clean cloth and then scrub the affected areas. If you need more power, you can also use a tough brush to address the crevices in your skin. Add more tea tree oil and keep scrubbing until the ink is removed.

8. Grease Hand Cleaner Solutions:

Cleaners that are made to remove grease from your skin also work great for ink stains. 

To use:  Follow the instructions on the bottle of your cleaning solution. After using the grease cleaner to remove your ink stain, make sure you wash your skin with soap and water to remove any remaining cleaning product.

9. Pumice Stone:

If all else fails, you can always speed along your skin’s natural shedding behavior. A pumice stone applied to the area at least once a day will help shed the stained sections of your skin and expose the inkless layers underneath. 

Ink and Toner Stains on Clothing

Ink can be tough to remove from fabrics, especially if you don’t want to harm the fabric’s existing color. Before trying any of the techniques below, make sure you read the tags and test the solution on a small, unseen section of the fabric to ensure it doesn’t affect the color. 

Ink vs. Toner

Printer “ink” and “toner” are frequently used interchangeably. However, while they perform the same function, they are two different products. Ink cartridges are used in inkjet printers and use liquid ink for the printing process. Toner cartridges are used in laser printers and use powder for the printing process.

While there are pros and cons to both, toner is typically used for higher volume, lower quality prints, while ink is more commonly used in personal home printers. 

Both toner and ink can stain your clothing. However, the way you treat each stain is very different. 

Fresh Ink Stains

If you just got printer ink on your clothing (or some other fabric), follow these steps to remove the stain before it sets:

  1. Dab the affected area with a damp towel or sponge to remove as much ink as possible.
  2. Allow the remaining stain to air-dry. 
  3. Once the stain has dried, dab the stained area with rubbing alcohol or hairspray. You should dab the stain between two paper towels to ensure that the ink does not transfer to another section of the fabric. 
  4. Repeat Step 3 with clean paper towels until the stain is removed. 
  5. If there is any residual ink that will not come off with the rubbing alcohol or hair spray, allow the remaining ink to air-dry a second time. 
  6. Wash the garment in lukewarm soapy water and air-dry. 

If that doesn’t work, it’s time to get a bit more creative. Continue with the next steps: 

  1. Rub the stain with salt. 
  2. Fill a bowl with a mixture of one part milk, one part lemon juice. 
  3. Place the garment stain-side down in the bowl and let sit overnight. The milk and lemon juice mixture will help lift the ink from the fabric.
  4. Wash the garment in lukewarm soapy water and air-dry.

Old Ink Stains

If you find an old ink stain on a piece of clothing or some other fabric, all hope is not lost. The ink stain may be able to be removed by following these steps:

  1. Rub detergent into the stained area of the cloth. Let the detergent sit for several minutes.
  2. Use a toothbrush or other tough brush to scrub the detergent into the stained area. 
  3. Rinse the cloth until the detergent is no longer present. 
  4. If the stain is still visible, create a mixture of one part bleach and one part water. 
  5. Dip the toothbrush into the solution and scrub it into the stain. Remember- bleach can remove the color from fabrics. If you are not working with a white shirt, make sure you try this step on a small, unseen section of the fabric before using it on the stain. If you cannot use bleach, you can use a substitute solution of 2-tablespoons (tbsp) liquid detergent, 3-tbsp white vinegar, and 1-quart warm water.
  6. Wash the cloth in soapy water. Do not let the fabric dry between steps 5 and 6, or the stain will reset. 
  7. Air-dry the cloth flat or hanged. Do not use a dryer, as it will set any ink that is still present in the fabric. 

If the stain is still visible on the fabric, repeat steps 1-7. 

Toner Stain on Clothing

Toner is a powder that brushes off most surfaces easily enough. However, if it gets on clothing or other fabrics, it can stain. To treat toner stains, follow these steps:

  1. Shake the cloth vigorously to remove any excess toner. Whatever you do, do not get the toner stain wet! Toner is a powder, so water will dissolve it and set the stain.
  2. Brush as much excess toner powder off as possible.
  3. If you can, use a vacuum to suck up any remaining powder.

If the stain persists once you remove the excess powder, it is time to start using soap and water:

  1. Swish the affected fabric in cold water. 
  2. Empty the cold water, refill it, and repeat the process. 
  3. Once the water stays clear, place the affected cloth in a washing machine, and wash with detergent and cold water. 
  4. Let the cloth air-dry in the shade. Heat and sunshine will set any residual toner into the fabric. 

If the stain persists, you may need to get more aggressive. Before completing the remaining steps, make sure you test the solutions on a small, unseen portion of the fabric to ensure the fabric’s colors aren’t altered. 

  1. Blot the stained area of the cloth with a rubbing alcohol-soaked cotton swab or paper towel.
  2. Blot the cloth dry using a dry paper towel or cotton swab. 
  3. Allow the cloth to fully air-dry in the shade. 
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until the stain is no longer visible. 
  5. Once the stain is no longer visible, wash the cloth in the washing machine with cold water. 
  6. Air-dry once more. 

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