10 Proven Ways To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Your Clothes

Say goodbye to the stubborn tattoo ink stains on your favorite shirt with these easy tips.

Written by , MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) Joyce Joyson MA (Mass Communication & Journalism) linkedin_icon
Edited by , BA, MSc Eshna Das BA, MSc linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Fact-checked by , MA (English Literature) Aparna Harry MA (English Literature) linkedin_icon Experience: 3 years
Last Updated on
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There is nothing quite as exhilarating as getting a new tattoo design. But what about that panic that sets in when you realize there is tattoo ink on your favorite pair of jeans? We have all had that sinking feeling and wondered how to get tattoo ink out of clothes. Whether it is an unfortunate little smudge during the tattooing process or an accidental brush against freshly inked skin, fret not. We have got you covered. In this article, we will explore ten simple household items you can use to bid goodbye to those pesky stains and revive your clothes. Scroll down to know more.

Does Tattoo Ink Stain Clothes?

Once your tattoo heals and the ink settles in the skin, it generally does not transfer to your clothing. However, some ink may transfer onto your clothes during the tattooing process and leave behind a noticeable stain. Usually, tattoo artists use disposable barriers and sheets to cover their client’s clothing to avoid this.

It is also normal for tattoo ink to get on your clothes after the tattooing process, especially during the first two days of the healing process. Tattoo artists cover the fresh tattoo with a cling wrap to avoid this transfer. However, remember to remove this wrap after a few hours.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Wear dark colors like black, dark blue, charcoal gray, and navy blue to your tattoo appointment, as they do not show stains easily. Avoid light clothing colors like white, beige, and cream.

Factors such as the tattoo placement, the type of fabric, and the ink’s composition can lead to tattoo stains on your clothes. But this makes you wonder whether you can wash tattoo ink out of your clothes if it happens. Find out in the next section.

Does Tattoo Ink Come Out Of Clothes?

Ideally, the faster you address the tattoo ink stain, the better your chances of removing it successfully. For doing so, it is also important to choose the right products. But before we get to that, one should be familiar with the tattoo ink’s composition. They mainly contain coloring agents and common solvents like water, alcohol, or glycerin. Since most of these ingredients are water-based, you do not have to look for products that target oil stains to get tattoo ink out of clothes.

Typically, it is important to address the tattoo ink stain while it is still fresh. Check out the next section for simple methods for getting tattoo ink out of clothes.

10 Ways To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Your Clothes

1. Baking Soda And Water

Baking soda and water for tattoo ink stain removal from clothes
Image: Shutterstock

Baking soda is an effective stain removal and whitening agent that may help remove stains on teeth (1). This may possibly help remove tattoo ink from clothes. However, more research is warranted in this regard. Here is how you can use baking soda to get tattoo ink out of clothing:

  • Use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot the stain if the tattoo ink is fresh.
  • Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of water to create a smooth paste.
  • Apply this paste to the stain and let it dry. This may take around 5-10 minutes.
  • Use a clean towel to rub off the baking soda paste from the piece of clothing.
  • Rinse with soapy water followed by warm or cold water.
  • Wash the cloth in a washing machine to remove the remaining ink.

2. Acetone Or Nail Polish Remover

Acetone is a common ingredient in polish removers that helps break down nail paints. You may also use it on a small area of your stained clothing. Since rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) is primarily in the production of acetone, you may also use it in its place (2). Here is how you can use acetone to remove tattoo ink out of clothes:

  • Use a paper towel to gently blot the fresh stain.
  • Dip your cotton swab in a small amount of acetone-based nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.
  • Place it on the stain for 2-3 minutes to let it break down.
  • Remove the cotton swab and use tissue paper to blot the stained area. The ink should start to come off at this stage.
  • Repeat the process if necessary and rinse with warm or cold water. Avoid hot water as it may damage the cloth fabric and seal the tattoo ink.
  • Wash the clothing like you normally do.
protip_icon Quick Tip
Spot-test the nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol on an inside seam of your clothing to ensure it does not damage the fabric.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide for tattoo ink stain removal from clothes
Image: Shutterstock

Research suggests that hydrogen peroxide provides a bleaching action that may help whiten nails and clothes (3). Therefore, it may also help remove the tattoo ink out of clothes. However, there is currently no evidence supporting this claim. Here is how you can use it:

  • Dip a cotton ball in the hydrogen peroxide solution.
  • Blot the tattoo ink stain with a paper towel and place the cotton ball on top of it.
  • Wait for 2-3 minutes to let it break down the stain.
  • Remove the cotton pad and blot the stained area with a clean cloth.
  • Once the ink stops staining the cloth, wash your garment like you normally do.

4. Vinegar And Cornstarch

White vinegar and apple vinegar have bleaching effects that may help remove teeth stains (4). Anecdotal evidence also suggests that cornstarch may help absorb ink pigments from the stain. The combined action of these ingredients may potentially help in removing tattoo ink from clothes. Here is how you can use them:

  • Sprinkle some cornstarch on the tattoo ink stain and wait for 2-3 minutes.
  • Dust it away and use a paper towel to blot the area.
  • Now, mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to create a paste.
  • Apply the mixture to the stain and leave it for about 30 minutes.
  • Wipe it off with a clean towel.
  • Reapply if required and rinse it off with warm water.
  • Wash as per the garment care instructions on the label.

5. Hairspray

Hairspray for tattoo ink stain removal from clothes
Image: Shutterstock

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the alcohol in some hairsprays may help you get rid of tattoo ink stains. Here is how you can use them:

  • Use a clean paper towel to blot the ink stain to help remove excess ink.
  • Spray some hairspray directly onto the stain.
  • Wait for 1-2 minutes and use a clean towel to blot the stain.
  • Repeat the process as necessary and rinse it off with lukewarm or cold water. Avoid hot water to avoid damaging the cloth fabric.
  • Wash your garment as you usually do.
protip_icon Quick Tip
The presence of alcohol in hand sanitizers make them a suitable alternative to hairsprays for tattoo ink removal.

6. Bleach

Bleach is universally known for its ability to whiten or lighten the color of materials (5). While it can effectively remove stubborn stains, it may also discolor your colored clothes. However, if you want to learn how to get tattoo ink out of white clothes, this solution might be perfect. Here is how you can use bleach to get tattoo ink out of clothes:

  • Dilute 1 tablespoon of bleach with 5 tablespoons of water.
  • Dab the stained area with a paper towel to remove excess ink.
  • Dip a sponge in the bleach and water solution.
  • Gently blot the stained area with it for 4-5 minutes.
  • Rinse the area thoroughly with lukewarm or cold water.
  • Use the cleaning solution again if required and wash the cloth like you usually would.

7. Toothpaste And Baking Soda

Toothpaste and baking soda for tattoo ink stain removal from clothes
Image: Shutterstock

The presence of bleaching agents like sodium percarbonate, silica, and hydrogen peroxide in some whitening toothpastes on the market may help remove tattoo ink stains (6), (7). Baking soda, on the other hand, is also a whitening agent that may help remove stains (1). Here is how you can use these ingredients to get tattoo ink out of clothing:

  • Use a paper towel to gently blot the stained area.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 1/2 teaspoon of toothpaste to get a thick paste.
  • Use a toothbrush to apply it to the stain in gentle, circular motions.
  • Leave it on for 30 minutes and rinse it off the area with lukewarm water.
  • Repeat the process if required and wash in a gentle cycle to remove all traces of ink from clothing.

8. Lemon Juice

Research suggests that lemon juice may help remove stains from teeth (8). Therefore, it may possibly help remove tattoo stains from clothes. However, further research is warranted in this regard. Here is how you can use this natural ingredient:

  • Use a clean and soft cloth to blot the stain if the tattoo ink is fresh.
  • Dip a clean cotton ball in lemon juice and place it over the area.
  • Wait for 2-3 minutes and remove it.
  • Place the stained cloth in the sun for 30 minutes.
  • Repeat the process if required and wash the cloth like you normally do.

9. Baby Oil

Anecdotal evidence suggests that baby oil may help remove fresh tattoo ink stains. However, it may not be as effective as the other methods. Here is how you use it:

  • Use a paper towel to blot the stained area.
  • Apply 3-4 drops of baby oil to it.
  • Use a brush or clean cloth to gently scrub it for 10-15 minutes.
  • Apply any cleaning solution to the stain and rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  • Repeat the process if required.
  • Wash the cloth in the washing machine to get rid of any leftover tattoo ink.

10. Razor Blade

Razor blade for fresh tattoo stain removal from clothes
Image: Shutterstock

If you do not have any of the above things available at home, you may simply try scraping the tattoo ink away with a razor. This may ideally work on a fresh stain. You may also use a credit card or the edge of a spoon for it. However, avoid using the method on delicate or fragile fabrics, as it can damage them. Here is what you can do:

  • Run the blade over the area slowly to gently scrape off any excess ink. Be careful not to spread the stain further.
  • Use dry paper towels to blot the ink.
  • Apply dish soap or laundry detergent directly to the stain and scrub gently for 2-5 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with clean water and repeat if necessary.
  • Follow up by washing the piece of clothing according to the care instructions.

If your attempts to eliminate the stain remain unsuccessful even after all these options, consider using a commercial stain removal product or taking your garment to a professional dry cleaner.

Getting tattoo pigments out of your favorite shirt may seem like a daunting task. However, doing so is pretty easy. You only need to ensure that you treat the stain while it is still fresh to get successful results. While some of the methods given above may not help remove the pigment completely, it may help fade it. Further, gradually washing the garment may help get rid of it completely. That said, it is recommended that you take proper precautions to prevent ink from getting on your clothing rather than looking for ways to remove it in the first place.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is tattoo ink permanent on clothes?

Tattoo ink is meant to be permanent. However, if you tackle it while it is still fresh, you use a commercial stain remover or home remedies like baking soda to remove it. However, without such measures, it may damage your clothing permanently.

Does tattoo ink wash out of sheets?

Yes, tattoo ink may be washed out of your sheets. However, ensure that you treat the ink stain as soon as possible, especially for silk bed sheets as they are delicate and stain easily. You may use the same methods mentioned above to do so.

Key Takeaways

  • Ink may transfer onto your clothes and leave behind a noticeable stain during the tattoo session. It may also seep from a fresh tattoo during the first two days of its healing stage.
  • If you address the tattoo ink stain immediately after getting it, you may be able to remove it successfully.
  • Baking soda, nail polish remover, and hydrogen peroxide are some common household items that may help remove the tattoo stain.
10 Proven Ways To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Your Clothes

Image: Dall·E/StyleCraze Design Team

Removing permanent tattoo ink stains from clothes can be challenging. However, the right products may be able to do so. Check out this video for simple ways to remove that stubborn tattoo ink from your clothes.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Stain removal and whitening by baking soda dentifrice: A review of literature
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29056186/
  2. Isopropyl alcohol
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK208299/
  3. Skin antiseptics
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507853/
  4. Effects of vinegar on tooth bleaching and dental hard tissues in vitro
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25571718/
  5. Bleach toxicity
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441921/
  6. The chemical stain removal properties of ‘whitening’ toothpaste products: studies in vitro
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10893817/
  7. Comparison between the effect of commercially available chemical teeth whitening paste and teeth whitening paste containing ingredients of herbal origin on human enamel
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369603/
  8. In vitro comparison of natural tooth-whitening remedies and professional tooth-whitening systems
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10024105/
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Joyce Joyson
Joyce JoysonBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Joyce Joyson is a beauty and lifestyle writer with over a year of experience crafting short-form content for the beauty, fashion, and lifestyle niches. She has a triple majors bachelor’s degree in History, Political Science, and Geography from IIS University and a master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Kristu Jayanti College.

Read full bio of Joyce Joyson
Eshna Das
Eshna DasAssociate Editor
Eshna is an associate editor and a certified skin care coach. She has over three years of experience, a triple main bachelor’s degree in psychology, English, and journalism from Mount Carmel College, Bengaluru, and a master’s degree in psychology from Sampurna Montfort College, Bengaluru.

Read full bio of Eshna Das
Aparna Harry
Aparna HarryBeauty & Lifestyle Writer
Aparna Harry is a beauty and lifestyle content writer with over three years of experience in writing for different genres. She has a master’s degree in English Literature from The English And Foreign Languages University and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Mysore.

Read full bio of Aparna Harry