How to Get Ink out of Upholstery Fabric: 3 Easy Solutions That Work

Before and after picture if ink stains on upholstery

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Do you have an ink stain on fabric or upholstery? There are several inexpensive ways to get the stain out of fabric.

We had a microfiber ottoman that was given to us. It had blue and black ink scribbles on it. In the video on this page, we show the steps we used to return the ottoman fabric to like-new condition.

Microfiber Ottoman foot stool with ink stain scribbles on it.

In this post, we’ll share several options and show you the two that worked best for us.

Step 1: Test the Fabric

Not all fabrics are created equal. If you have the manufacturer’s tag still attached to the fabric read the label to learn what it’s made of.

Natural Fabrics:

Linen: Made from Flax – very durable

Cotton: Soft and durable. You’ll rarely find upholstery fabric that is 100 percent cotton. The best quality blends are 45 to 60 percent cotton. These are usually easy to clean.

Wool: This is a natural fabric made from animal hair. It can be scratchy unless it’s blended with other fabrics. Wool and wool blends can be difficult to clean.

Leather: Leather is made from animal hide. It is usually very durable, but can also be hard to remove stains from.

Man-Made or Synthetic Upholstery Fabric

Microfiber: This is a knit blend of mostly polyester – soft & durable – easy to clean. It is a tightly woven fabric that is durable and more moisture resistant. It has a suede-like appearance.

Polyester: This fabric was invented in the 1950s and is very durable. Today it is rarely used alone. You’ll find that it is mixed with a number of different natural fabrics to enhance its performance. Polyester blends are stronger, more resistant to fading and wrinkling, and easier to clean.

If you have an ink stain on synthetic fabric, cleaning it should be very easy. If the stain is on a natural fabric, it may be a little more difficult.

Either way, it’s always good to test your cleaning solution on an unseen portion of the fabric before doing your major cleaning.

Important: Before using any solvent or cleaning solution on your upholstery, it is important to test it first. You’re looking to see if any of the dyes in the fabric come out when using a cleaning solvent on it. Test in an unseen area first before trying to remove a stain.

  • If the stain is fresh, use a paper towel to blot the ink. You may be able to get some out. And you’ll need to do less work later.
  • Test a hidden area with your solution to check your fabric for Color Fastness. If your white rag shows some of the fabric color … STOP.
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Once you know that your fabric is colorfast, you’re ready to start cleaning. 

Step 2: Blot and Remove The Ink Stain (3 Options)

We tried two of the three solutions to get ink out of our upholstery fabric.

Option 1: Rubbing Alcohol

What is rubbing alcohol?

No this is not something you drink. Rubbing alcohol is the same as Isopropyl Alcohol. It is a disinfectant. But it is also a great cleaning agent for some fabric stains.

“Rubbing alcohol refers to either isopropyl alcohol (propan-2-ol) or ethanol based liquids,[1] or the comparable British Pharmacopoeia defined surgical spirit, with isopropyl alcohol products being the most widely available. Rubbing alcohol is UNDRINKABLE even if it is ethanol based, due to the bitterants added.”

Wikipedia – Rubbing Alcohol

How to clean with Rubbing Alcohol:

  1. Pour some rubbing alcohol on a white cloth.
  2. Press the cloth on the area several times (Blotting)
  3. Check the cloth and see if any of the ink has released onto the cloth
  4. If the cloth shows some ink on it, you can add more rubbing alcohol and gently brush and rub the area. The ink should release.
  5. Rub until the stain is gone.

When Steve tried rubbing alcohol on the ink stains on the ottoman they came out very quickly. This solution worked great.

If you’ve got rubbing alcohol, you can start cleaning. But if you don’t have any rubbing alcohol in the house, keep reading about the other two solutions.

RELATED ARTICLE: How to Cut Glass at Home and Save Money

Option 2: Denatured Alcohol

What is denatured alcohol? It is used in camping stoves as fuel to cook with. It is also used in home maintenance tasks to remove paint from woodworking.

“Denatured alcohol is used as a solvent and as fuel for alcohol burners and camping stoves. Because of the diversity of industrial uses for denatured alcohol, hundreds of additives and denaturing methods have been used. The main additive has traditionally been 10% methanol, methyl alcohol, giving rise to the term “methylated spirits”.

Wikipedia – Denatured Alcohol

Steve regularly uses denatured alcohol to remove sticker glue from books, glass and other surfaces. It’s also excellent at removing oil-based and acrylic-based paint spatters from wood and metal without damaging the finish.

Since this is something we always have in the house, Steve tested this on the microfiber fabric of the ottoman.

Initially, the denatured alcohol removed the ink stain quickly. But after about 30 seconds he realized that it wasn’t going to completely remove the stain.

He went back to using rubbing alcohol and was able to remove the stain completely.

While denatured alcohol may work on some stains, we’d recommend using rubbing alcohol or the next option.

Option 3: Alcohol-Based Hair Spray

Annette has been using Hairspray to remove ink stains from clothes in the laundry for years. Just a few sprays on the ink spot and then toss it into the washer.

Even though we didn’t try this on microfiber fabric, it is a good option for getting ink stains out.

As with any other stain remover, test an obscure or unseen area of the fabric for color-fastness.

After you get the main ink spot out you’ll probably want to clean the rest of the upholstery. Keep reading to see how we do it.

Step 3: Cleaning the Entire Furniture Upholstery

We followed up cleaning the ink out by cleaning the entire chair and ottoman with our DIY Stain Remover Solution. It’s made up of Dawn and Hydrogen Peroxide.

Cleaning with our Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Machine

Steve used our Hoover Powerscrub carpet cleaner with an upholstery wand attachment. He sprayed the ottoman with the stain remover and then cleaned it.

The Hoover Power Scrub has a dual tank on it. One portion of the tank holds the carpet cleaning solution. Steve mixed up some of our DIY Rug Doctor solution and poured it in the “Clean” tank.

The other side of the tank is for rinsing your carpet or fabric, so Steve filled that part with hot water.

Between the spotting solution and the DIY carpet cleaning solution, Steve was able to make the ottoman fabric as clean as new.

Watch as Steve cleans an entire recliner with our DIY cleaning solution

Conclusion: You Can Get Ink Out Of Upholstery Fabric

If you have an ink stain on upholstered fabric don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to clean.

  1. Test the fabric first.
  2. Blot the spot, then rub.
  3. Clean the entire piece of upholstery to avoid having “hot spots.”

Let us know how these cleaning solutions work on ink stains for you.

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