How to Remove Stains: Ink, Dye, and Shoe Polish

A women cleans a stain on a couch.

By following a few simple procedures, almost any stain can be removed from carpeting and clothing. Although some are tougher than others, there is always a method you can try.

Ink Stain on Clothing

Removing ink stains can be difficult. The most important thing to do is to try to remove the stain as quickly as possible before it sets. Try this method to remove ink—first dab with a clean wet sponge until no more ink is lifted. Allow the stain to air dry. Spray the stain with hairspray, and then place the stain between sheets of paper towel—one in back, one in front. Working from the back side of the stain, blot into the other sheet of paper towel until the stain is lifted. Use a good laundry pre-treatment on the stain, and launder per care label instructions. Allow the garment to air dry, as placing it in a hot dryer can set the stain if not fully removed. Repeat the process as necessary.

Ink Stain on Carpet

Removing ink stains from carpeting is best accomplished through the use of 90% isopropyl alcohol. Always try to treat the stain as quickly as possible. Using a clean white cloth, dab the alcohol onto the stain, being careful not to spread the stain further. Never pour the alcohol onto the carpeting. The best way to clean up the stain and remove the alcohol is with a shop vac, but a clean cloth can be used in its place if one is not available. Blot the stain for removal — never rub. Repeat this process until all traces of the stain are gone.

Marker Stain on Clothes

Remove marker stains such as from a Sharpie pen, can be accomplished in the same way ink stains are removed. Always make every attempt to flush the stain as soon as it happens. After a garment has been laundered and dried, then ironed, the stain will be next to impossible to remove.

Crayon Stain on Clothes

Crayon stains can be removed by placing the stained clothing on white cloth or paper towels. Spray well with WD-40, or a commercial product such as Goo Gone. Allow it to stand for a few minutes. Turn the garment over and apply WD-40 to the back of the stain, once again allowing it to stand for a few minutes. Use a good liquid laundry detergent and work into both sides of the stain, beginning with the back side. Wash it in hot water with a color safe bleach, and check clothing closely at the end of the wash cycle to determine if the stain has been removed. If not, repeat the process.

Shoe Polish Stain on Clothes

To remove liquid shoe polish from clothing, use one part isopropyl alcohol to two parts cool water for colored fabrics, and pure isopropyl alcohol for whites. Blot the stain to remove excess. Pre-treat with a good prewash stain remover, such as Shout, and launder per care label instructions.

With paste shoe polish, scrape the excess from the garment with a dull butter knife. Pretreat with a prewash stain remover, let stand for a few minutes, and rinse in cool water. Rub liquid detergent into the stain and launder garment with bleach safe for fabrics. Always follow care label instructions when laundering.

Shoe Polish Stain on Carpet

To remove from carpeting, sponge the area with a small amount of dry cleaning fluid, such as Afta Cleaning Fluid. Do not rub. Blot the stain to remove excess. Mix one teaspoon of a mild non-bleaching detergent with a cup of lukewarm water, and blot the stain. Sponge with clean water to remove excess and cleaning agent. Blot to dry. If you aren't satisfied with the results, find a good carpet cleaning professional in the Yellow Pages to assist in removing the stain.

By following the proper procedure, and using the right cleaning solutions, almost every stain can be removed. Remember, though, that some stains simply cannot be removed. Always try to get to a stain before it has an opportunity to dry and set.