Inky upholstery, oh noes!

Dear Home Ec 101,
Hello! My three year old son decided it would be fun to draw on our car upholstery with black pen. In the past I have been able to use hairspray on crayon with wonderful success (couch and table cloth), but I have never attempted it on pen. Any tips or am I better of just leaving the unsightly mess? I’d hate to try something and have it look worse.

Thanks,
Inky in Indy

how to remove ink

retrochick.JPG Ivy says:

Give a little kid a pen and they will create a masterpiece. Unfortunately, if they don’t have any paper on hand, they’ll draw on anything that happens to be around, whether it’s their own skin or your walls or your car upholstery.

Fortunately, cleaning it isn’t that bad. You’re going the right direction with thinking hairspray, but it is the alcohol in the hairspray that does the actual cleaning. So skip the middle man and get some rubbing alcohol.

First, blot the stain to get up any excess ink. Don’t rub. Nowhere in this process should you rub*- rubbing will cause the stain to spread, so blot only. Then put some alcohol on a rag and blot again with the alcohol. Keep alcoholing and blotting until the stain comes up.

furniture care guide

Click the picture for more tips!

I find it really amusing that we’re using rubbing alcohol to clean something that is blot-only, but perhaps that is only me. Good luck!

*If you have a very large ink blot, you may have to do a tiny bit of rubbing. Work from the outside of the blot inward to make the stain smaller.

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.



8 Comments

  1. HeatherSolos on July 14, 2012 at 11:23 am

    It really depends on the microfiber, some are super obnoxious and can only be cleaned with solvents or they show spots. (Yes rubbing alcohol is  a solvent, but this would be to clean any sort of stain)

  2. Iris on December 10, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    I was so happy to find this, every other site suggested hairspray which I don't use and don't have on hand, but I've got plenty of rubbing alcohol!

  3. Jaki on March 8, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I’ll tell you the best purchase I ever made was buying a microfibre sofa. I have been able to wash out every spot on it, including pen. This fabric is amazing.

  4. well upholstered guy on February 19, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Aren’t kids fun. My favorite one was back when my eldest was 3 and he decided to put his toast into the video recorder – not to be recommended!

  5. David on February 15, 2008 at 5:00 am

    You are a Prophetess this happened to me the day before yesterday.

  6. The Chatty Housewife on February 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    I have had huge success with the hairspray, but I agree that is the alcohol, so rubbing alcohol is what I will try next time. Maybe it will be stronger and therefore take less rubbing and rinsing. I have removed ball point pen from my tan micro fiber couch and also dark cherry/maroon colored wood stain from a grass green colored sweatshirt. Both left no pilling or stain.

  7. My Adventures in Simple Living » Blog Archive » Getting out the ink on February 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    […] that’s the only reason I ever bought hairspray. Well, now I no longer have to buy any: Home Ec 101 just told me to use rubbing alcohol since it’s the alcohol in the hairspray […]

  8. Amy on February 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Great tips! Ethan took a blue ballpoint pen to my chairs and walls one year and I found a dab of toothpaste worked really well too. You just don’t want one of those whitening kinds (because of the bleaching property), but it seemed to do the trick. I started with hairspray and worked my way towards toothpaste. Thank Gawd for Google 🙂

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