How to Clean Up Printer Ink Spills

14-07-2014 by

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If you’ve ever had to handle a leaky ink cartridge, or tried your hand at refilling your ink cartridges at home, you understand how difficult it is to get printer ink stains out of your clothes or off your hands. We’ve put together this handy guide on how to clean up unfortunate ink spills.

How to clean printer ink off your hands

If you’ve gotten ink on your hands, soap and cold water will generally do the trick. The best thing to do is go wash your hands immediately to stop the ink having time to soak into your skin.

Using a gritty, abrasive soap may not leave your hands feeling great, but it will get the ink off your fingers quite quickly.

If you don’t have access to a gritty soap, try using a hand sanitizer that contains alcohol. The alcohol will break down the ink compounds and allow you to wash it off your hands quickly.

If the ink has stained your hands, household glass cleaner works well. Spray it on to the ink stains on your hands, let it dry and then scrub off with soap and cold water.

How to clean printer ink off your clothes

Speed is the most important factor here. Clean the stain off your clothing immediately, before it has time to set in to the fabric. Also remember to use cold water, as hot water will cause the stain to set faster.

Start by dabbing (not rubbing) the stain with a clean, damp cloth or towel until the ink stops lifting off the stain. Let the ink stain air dry for a few minutes and then spray it with hair spray or dab it with surgical spirits or rubbing alcohol to loosen the ink’s grip on the fabric.

Then, take two paper towels and sandwich the stained area between them. Blot the back side of the fabric with the paper towel to transfer the ink. Remember to keep moving the paper towel so that a clean area is pressed against the fabric to gather the ink and avoid transferring it back onto the fabric.

For tougher stains, you can try household stain removers or go to your local dry cleaners for advice on how to get the stain out.

How to clean printer ink off your carpets and upholstery

Once again, you’ll have to clean the spill up before it has a chance to soak into the fabric. Use a dry towel or cloth to gently blot the stain, working from the outside in. Be careful not to press down onto the stain too hard as this will grind the ink into the fibres. Do not scrub the stain.

Next, moisten a cotton towel with either rubbing alcohol or surgical spirits and continue to blot the area until the stain has lifted. If this doesn’t work, moisten a cotton towel with some hydrogen peroxide (you can get a mild solution from your pharmacy). This is recommended only for light coloured carpets as you could cause some discolouration in the area.

The key in all these techniques is getting to the stain quickly. By keeping some of these items handy, you’ll be able to get to that spill before it has time to set in and stain. The best thing to do would be to avoid a spill all together.

When you’re changing or refilling your ink cartridges, make sure to put some newspaper down around your printer first, wear surgical gloves to stop the ink getting on to your hands and wear any old clothing that can get stained. 

Nic Venter

About the author

Nic Venter+

 is the founder and director of He started the business in 2009 with the idea to sell ink and toner cartridges online and to provide you with a quality product, value for money and convenience. He regularly blogs on about printing and technology. Part of his philosophy is having fun and making sure that he and his team think everything ink, so you don't have to.

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