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How to Get Tattoo Ink Out of Clothes

Getting a tattoo is a permanent decision, but you know that going in. What you don’t want to be permanent is getting the ink on your clothes. That’s exactly what can happen if you wear tight-fitting or light-colored clothes when you get a tattoo. So how do you get tattoo ink out of clothes?

The best way to get tattoo ink out of clothes is to do it while the ink is still fresh. You can use several products, including water, baking soda, acetone, alcohol, vinegar, and hairspray. Just make sure you don’t wait too long to remove it, or it may not come out completely.

In this article, I’ll explain how to get tattoo ink out of clothes with all the products mentioned above. Finally, I’ll explain how to avoid getting tattoo ink on your clothes in the future. That way, you hopefully won’t have to deal with this problem anymore.

How to Get Tattoo Ink Out of Clothes

Does Tattoo Ink Stain Clothes?

Tattoo ink can stain clothing like any other ink or pigmented product. In fact, the pigments in the ink cause the most trouble, as that’s what will leave behind the most noticeable stain. That’s why before you can remove tattoo ink, it’s important to know what the ink is made of. Knowing what tattoo ink is made of can help choose the right products to remove it from your clothing.

Tattoo ink is usually made with two main ingredients: a coloring agent and a carrier agent. The coloring agent is some type of pigment. The pigment can come from various sources, depending on the color.

The other main ingredient, the carrier agent, is usually something such as water, alcohol, or glycerin. The carrier agent again depends on the type of tattoo ink. But, most of the ingredients used in tattoo ink are typically water-based, which means you don’t have to use specific products that target oil stains to remove the ink from clothing.

That said, tattoo ink stains on clothing may not be permanent if you treat them quickly. But it’s the pigment that typically leaves behind the stain, which is also what’s going to be the hardest to remove. You want to remove the ink when it is as fresh as possible before it dries.

Even if the ink dries before you can get home to remove it, you still may be able to remove it some as long as the clothing isn’t put through the actual dryer. But once you put the clothing in the dryer with the ink stain on it, it will be almost impossible to remove. The heat from the dryer can permanently set the stain.

Does Tattoo Ink Come Out of Clothes in the Washer?

Tattoo ink may or may not come out in the washer. The best answer is that it depends on the color of the ink and the color and type of clothing, as well as how soon you wash the clothing after getting ink on it. Washing the clothing immediately before the ink dries will give you the best results at getting it out, but it may not get it out completely.

If you get a lighter-colored ink on darker clothing, the ink may fade with each wash. But it may not disappear completely, especially if it dried before you washed it. If you get darker-colored ink on lighter clothing, it may not come out in the wash, especially if it dries. And even if it does come out some, the stain may still be quite noticeable.

The best way to ensure that tattoo ink comes out in the wash is to pre-treat the stain first before washing it. Do this even if the ink is still wet for the highest chances of getting it to come out completely. And remember not to put the clothing in the dryer unless the stain has been removed as much as possible.

How to Get Tattoo Ink Out of Clothes

The below methods are the best ways to get tattoo ink out of clothes. There’s not necessarily one that works better than the others. It just depends on what products you have at home. But you can use as many as you want until you start to see success.

Blot with Water

If the stain is fresh and not yet dried, the first thing you’ll want to do is blot the stain with water. Dampen a clean cloth and use it to blot the stain to absorb some of the excess ink. This will likely not remove the stain completely but will lessen the amount of ink that has to be removed later. You also want to be sure not to rub the stain as this could cause it to spread.

Baking Soda and Water

The next thing you can try is to mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part water until it forms a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it dry. As it dries, the baking soda paste will help absorb some of the ink if it is still wet.

You should start to see clumps form in the baking soda as it absorbs the ink. After it has dried, wipe or rinse off the baking soda. Then, use another method to remove the remaining ink from the clothing.

Nail Polish Remover/Acetone

Nail Polish RemoverNail polish remover is designed for removing pigments from paints and inks, so it can also work well for removing tattoo ink from clothing. Nail polish remover contains acetone as the active ingredient, or you can buy straight acetone instead.

Before using this method:

  1. Be aware that acetone can discolor clothing and can cause damage to certain fabrics. You may wish to do a spot test before using this method to ensure that the nail polish remover or acetone doesn’t cause any damage.
  2. When doing a spot test, apply a small amount of acetone or nail polish remover to a cotton swab.
  3. Dab it on a hidden fabric part and wait a few minutes to check for damage.

If no damage occurs, apply the acetone or nail polish remover to a cotton ball. Place the cotton ball on the stain for a few minutes to give it time to break down the stain. Then, blot the stain and the ink should start to come off. Repeat the process as necessary until ink stops being absorbed by the cotton ball.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing AlcoholRubbing alcohol is the best and most effective method for removing permanent marker ink and it can also remove other permanent inks, including tattoo ink that gets on your clothes. The alcohol breaks down the ink. And alcohol should damage or discolor clothing, but you may wish to do a spot test just to make sure.

Then, apply the alcohol to a clean rag or cotton ball. Place it on top of the stain for a few minutes to break it down. Then, blot the stain and you should start to see the ink come off. Repeat the process until you can’t get any more ink to come out of the clothing.


VinegarAnother effective method you can use to remove tattoo ink from clothes is vinegar. Vinegar is very acidic and can break down the ink without causing damage to the clothing. You can just pour vinegar onto the stain and then use a rag to blot it until ink stops coming off the clothing.

You can also mix vinegar and baking soda to create a paste using 2 parts baking soda and 1 part vinegar. Then apply the paste to the stain and let it dry before rinsing it. Whichever vinegar method you use, you can repeat the process as necessary until you’ve removed as much ink as possible.


One more common household product you can use to get tattoo ink out of clothing is hairspray. But, you want to make sure that any hairspray you use contains alcohol, so check the ingredient label first.

Then, spray hairspray directly onto the stain and use a clean rag to blot the stain. Repeat spraying and blotting as often as necessary until you’ve removed as much of the stain as possible.

Oxygen Bleach

BleachIf none of the other methods work, or you just want to skip straight to using a stronger commercial product, try using oxygen bleach. Oxygen bleach can break down the stain and is safe to use on colored clothing.

The exact instructions for using oxygen bleach may vary depending on the manufacturer.

You’ll want to make sure that you follow the instructions on the packaging when using it.

Wash the Clothing

After using a pre-treatment method and removing as much of the stain as possible, wash the clothing. Check the clothing’s care tag and wash the clothing on the hottest setting the clothing can handle.

You can also use a heavy-duty detergent and add some oxygen bleach to the wash if you prefer. This will break down ink stains that are particularly tough. If the stain still persists after washing, repeat the pre-treatment methods above before washing the clothing again. Don’t put the clothing into the dryer unless the stain has been removed; this can set the stain permanently.

How to Avoid Getting Tattoo Ink On Your Clothing

If you get tattoos a lot, you’ll want to avoid getting tattoo ink on your clothing in the future. Here are some tips to help you avoid it.

The best thing to do is wear old or dark clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. That way, if tattoo ink does get on your clothing, it won’t matter as much. Wearing tie-dyed shirts can also work well since they are often a variety of colors anyway and the ink won’t be noticeable if it gets on it. Black clothing is another good option.

You can also wear loose-fitting clothing so that the clothing doesn’t rub up against your tattoo while the ink dries. You don’t want to wear tight clothing when getting a tattoo anyway. The tight clothing can smear your tattoo and ruin it.


Getting tattoo ink on your clothing is easy if the ink is fresh. But as long as you treat the stain while it’s fresh, you shouldn’t have much trouble in getting the ink stain out. There are several household products you can use to remove tattoo ink from clothing. And, you can prevent ink from getting on your clothing in the future by wearing old, dark, and loose-fitting clothing while getting a tattoo. If you found this article helpful, share it with others. Thanks for reading!