Removing Ink from carpets and fabrics

Posted by Bold Support on


What you need

  • extraction machine with warm water
  • white towels
  • bone scraper
  • spotting brush
  • a sheet of plastic
  • volatile spotter (All-Solv, Solvent Clean),
  • non-volatile spotter (Paint-Ink-Grease Remover – P.I.G.)
  • neutral spotter (Avenge).

Step 1 – Prequalify your customer

  • Your customer would like that stain removed completely. You would also like the stain removed, but don’t promise it! It is far better to give your customer lower expectations and then exceed them. Start the process with a comment like, “Most inks are made to be permanent and unfortunately they don’t all come out”. Further, explain that you have had good success with many stains and that if anyone can remove it you can. You may also explain that if the stain is extensive the fabric may sustain some colour loss around the area of the stain.

Step 2 - Knowing what not to do.

  • The ink contains very concentrated amounts of pigment, which is normally carried in a solvent soluble resin. If the ink is applied to a fabric and the resin is removed without the pigment, the stain becomes very difficult to remove. This happens when ink is spotted with a normal volatile solvent first. This should be avoided. Always start with a non-volatile dry solvent spotter (NVDS)(P.I.G.)
  • Another problem on solvent soluble inks is the use of water-based products first. The water sets up a barrier which makes it harder for the solvents to do the job. If the stain is not removed with a water-based product, the stain will set. The exception to this is with water-soluble inks and some felt tip permanent markers in which Avenge spotter will do an excellent job.

Step 3 - Determine if the inks are water or solvent soluble.

  • After testing for safety in an inconspicuous area, apply a small amount of a NVDS (P.I.G.) to a white towel and blot the stain. If the colour is removed then you will continue on the solvent side. If the stain does not respond then blot with Avenge and continue to apply and extract until the stain is gone.

Step 4 – Removing solvent soluble ink

  • For solvent-soluble stains, a Volatile Dry Solvent (All-Solv) may work effectively especially if it is a light marking or a surface stain. If a VDS is effective, continue to apply to a towel and blot until you are removing only a small amount of ink. At this point, you may apply directly to the fabric with repeated dry extraction strokes. If the stain is on a cushion with a zipper, you may unzip and apply vacuum to the outside of the fabric while applying solvent to the inside. For heavier ink spills or those that prove stubborn, the use of a NVDS (P.I.G.) will be most effective. If the stain is on the cushion, unzip and place the plastic between the fabric and the inner foam. This will protect the foam from the solvents.
  • Testing will tell you what to do next. NVDS (P.I.G.) is often activated by water. If the stain is not coming off completely with the NVDS (P.I.G.) then adding a Neutral Spotter (Avenge) to the stain and lightly agitating will help.
  • On heavy spills you w, ll want to remove them from the back toward the front. Hold the vacuum cuff against the stain while pouring the spotters from the back. Apply NVDS (P.I.G.) to the back of the stain followed by a small amount of Neutral Spotter (Avenge). Force the stain from the back to the front into a white towel held against the stain.
  • Repeat the process until you are getting out little or no ink. Place the plastic inside the cushion and work the stain from the surface with repeated applications of NVDS (P.I.G.) followed by Neutral Spotter (Avenge) then heavy and repeated extraction.

Step 5 – Rinse & Dry

  • The NVDS (P.I.G.) will rinse out with water but you must do it repeatedly. Once the ink is gone, flush with a small amount of VDS (All-Solv) as the last step. Dry the piece with an Air Mover and inspect for results.


  • Prequalify the customer. Start slow and test to discover which of the three chemicals you will use and in what order. Light stains are usually quick and easy while heavy stains take time and larger amounts of the chemical.