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One careless moment and it’s happened: pretty much all of us have spread ballpoint pens on our clothes, the couch or our skin. But how do you get rid of it? Washing and long scrubbing rarely bring us success in this situation.

In our article we would like to help you remove the ballpoint pen stain thoroughly and efficiently.

We’ll also explain to you why ballpoint pens are so stubborn and why you should do something about the annoying marks as quickly as possible.


The essentials in brief

  • If you spot a ballpoint pen stain, you should remove it as quickly as possible and do not let it dry.
  • The best way to get the marks off is with alcohol or alcohol-based solvents.
  • Test the appropriate product on an inconspicuous area first so as not to make the problem worse.

What you should know about ballpoint pen stains

Almost all of us use a ballpoint pen every day – after all, they are available as promotional gifts on almost every corner.

But very few people know how to properly remove ballpoint pen stains. We’ll explain what you should pay attention to when removing it.

Why are ballpoint pen stains so stubborn?

The ink from ballpoint pens, unlike the ink from fountain pens, is not as easy to remove. To do this, you should first know how a ballpoint pen actually works.

A normal “pen” consists of three parts: the plastic ink reservoir, the writing tip with the ball guide and a ball that releases the ink onto the paper when it rotates.

The ink reservoir contains a viscous ink paste that consists of solvents, dyes and resins.

The special thing about the ballpoint pen is that the ink in the refill is still viscous and only dries when it comes into contact with air. In order to remove ballpoint pen stains, the ink must first be made liquid again using some kind of solvent. That’s why the stains are so difficult to remove.

Do you have to remove ballpoint pens quickly or let them dry?

If you have a ballpoint pen stain, you should act as quickly as possible. Because once the viscous ink dries up, it is more difficult to remove.

This is because the ink contains solvents that evaporate when they come into contact with air. This causes the dyes to dry on the surface.

So you shouldn’t wait for the stain to dry, but rather use mild detergents, solutions or home remedies immediately.

Can I erase lines from a ballpoint pen on paper?

Yes and no. There are some erasers with special surfaces that are suitable for erasing ballpoint pens.

A well-known example from the trade are the erasers with a red side for pencils and a blue side that is suitable for ink.

It should be noted, however, that the eraser not only removes the color, but also part of the surface of the paper. This causes the surface to become rough and can crack if erased heavily.

Instead of erasing, citric acid can help with ballpoint pen ink on paper, which essentially bleaches the surface.

What to do about ballpoint pen stains: tricks for all materials

If a blue line suddenly lands on your clothing, couch or table while gesturing, there is no need to panic.

In order to remove ballpoint pens effectively, there are various insider tips for all materials that we would like to present to you.

Which home remedies are suitable for removing ballpoint pens?

If you want to remove ballpoint pens, you often have to do it quickly. A professional cleaning product is not always immediately available.

But that’s usually not necessary: ​​all you need to remove it is an alcohol-based agent that can act as a solution. This allows you to make the dry ink liquid again and remove it quickly and easily.

It’s best to test different home remedies on inconspicuous areas to find the best method for you.


When it comes to alcohol-based products, alcohol is of course the number one solution.

It’s best to use pure alcohol from the pharmacy or high-proof spirits from your local bar. This can be used to remove ballpoint pen stains from sensitive textiles such as wool or silk.

In the table you can see where you can find high concentrations of alcohol:

Medium Alcohol content
Pure alcohol (pharmacy) 95% – 99%
denatured alcohol At least 94%
Alcohol and spirits Between 60% and 90%
nail polish remover Alcohol base
Hairspray Alcohol base

To start, you should test the alcohol in an inconspicuous area. Depending on the color, in the worst case scenario, the alcohol can bleach your clothing or other items.

If everything goes well during the testing phase, it’s time to soak the stain in alcohol.

After about five minutes of exposure, you can try to gently rub the stain out of the material with a microfiber cloth. Do this carefully and always use a different part of the cloth so as not to rub the pen again.

nail polish remover

Most nail polish removers contain alcohol, which you can use to quickly remove the ballpoint pen stain.

Apply a few drops to a microfiber cloth and gently attempt to work on the stain by gently dabbing the cloth onto the smudged area.

But it’s best not to use nail polish with acetone. This solvent is more aggressive and can damage delicate or dark tissue. You can find the ingredients on the back of the nail polish bottle.


Vinegar, or vinegar essence, is another solvent that can help against ballpoint pen stains. It’s best to put some vinegar essence on the stain and rub it in with an electric brush or a regular hand brush. Alternatively, this can also be done with a toothbrush.

You can let the whole thing soak overnight and wash it by hand or in the washing machine the next day. Vinegar is generally a good home remedy for removing all kinds of stains. For example, it is also said to help against blood stains .


Another insider tip for removing ballpoint pen stains is your own toothpaste . It is suitable for both clothing and wooden surfaces. However, it is important that your toothpaste does not contain any dyes.

Gently rub the paste into the stain and give it about 10 to 15 minutes to work. After treatment, you must rinse the toothpaste thoroughly.

If the stain isn’t completely gone, you may need to reapply the treatment.


Hairspray can also be used to remove pen stains. However, only on the condition that it also contains alcohol. Otherwise the treatment will just be a sticky affair without success.

On textiles, simply spray the stain with hairspray until the ballpoint pen lines run – then you can soap the fabric with a little detergent or soap under warm water and then rinse.

How do I get ballpoint pens out of fabrics and textiles?

Ballpoint pen stains or marks most often end up on textiles. For example on the new jeans, the couch in the living room or the white blouse. But you don’t have to panic.

In addition to professional commercial solvents, many home remedies are suitable for removing lines and stains from fabrics.

Washing often doesn’t help with ballpoint pen stains; alternative methods are needed instead!

The most effective home remedies include products that contain alcohol. Alcohol acts like a solvent and liquefies the dried ink of the ballpoint pen. Pure alcohol from the pharmacy, high-proof spirits, nail polish remover or hairspray are suitable.

How can I remove leather ballpoint pens?

Blue lines and stains on expensive leather goods are particularly annoying. Because there are so many different types of leather, different solvents are suitable depending on the surface.

    • Suede and aniline leather: These types of leather are very sensitive. The safest way to remove it is with masking tape. Place the adhesive side of the tape on the line and press it lightly with your fingertip. Then peel off the tape and repeat the process with fresh tape until the line is completely gone.
    • (pigmented) smooth leather: Dab lemon juice onto the smeared area with a microfiber cloth. Repeat until all the ink is removed from the leather.
    • Artificial leather: Artificial leather also reacts very sensitively to aggressive solvents such as lemon, alcohol or vinegar. The method with crepe tape is also best suited here, similar to suede and aniline leather.

What helps against ballpoint pen stains on the skin?

You can’t get rid of ballpoint pen stains on your skin by simply washing your hands – no matter how much soap you use or how hard you scrub.

The simplest solution here is also: pure alcohol. You can buy this at the pharmacy and keep it for future pen accidents.

So you are always prepared and no longer have to worry about bruises or marks on your skin.

How do I remove ballpoint pen stains from plastic?

On smooth surfaces like plastic, alcohol and nail polish remover are great for easily removing smudges and marks.

The ballpoint pen’s ink does not dry so deeply on the smooth surface and is therefore easy to handle.

The same applies here: the faster, the better. If you wait too long to remove it, it may well happen that the stains can no longer be removed without leaving any residue.

What can I do about ballpoint pens on the wall or on wood?

Occasionally a ballpoint pen stain also ends up on other surfaces. The table gives you an overview of how best to treat wood and wallpaper.
Wood wallpaper

Ballpoint pens are difficult to remove on wood. It is most effective if you carefully sand the affected area with sandpaper. If the surface is painted, you will have to refinish it with a coat of varnish.


Alternatively, you can rub the stain with toothpaste, let it take effect and then wipe it off with a clean cloth.

The safest method is to simply paint over the line on the wallpaper with the same color.


Alternatively, a treatment with alcohol-based hairspray is also suitable – simply leave it on briefly and remove with a clean, dry cloth.

It is always gentlest on walls and wallpaper to simply renew the top layer of paint. Other discolorations can also be painted over at the same time.

What else you should know about ballpoint pen stains

Although the ballpoint pen is now an everyday item and removing stains is not a big problem, there are still a few unanswered questions.

In the following section we would like to devote ourselves to these.

Is ballpoint pen ink toxic?

This question is difficult to answer because every manufacturer uses different ingredients in their ink and the transparency in this aspect is very poor.

In principle, however, the all-clear must be given: Manufacturers must adhere to certain standards when it comes to ingredients that prohibit the use of toxic inks.

So there is no danger if ink lands on the tongue and other parts of the body.

What is particularly dangerous about a ballpoint pen is the small parts that can be swallowed. Children under three years of age should therefore not use a ballpoint pen.

Can I remove pens from my phone or laptop screen?

Almost everyone knows the situation: you point at your laptop with a ballpoint pen to show something to the person sitting next to you. It can quickly happen that a black or blue line ends up on the computer screen or tablet display.

If you really want to be sure, we recommend consulting an expert in this case.

Alternatively, you can try it immediately after the mishap with a damp microfiber cloth and a little dishwashing liquid.

For coated laptops, cell phones and tablets, it’s also worth trying alcohol or nail polish remover.


Even though most people fear the black and blue lines from ballpoint pens, it is not that difficult to remove the stains. At least if you act quickly.

You should always keep in mind that ballpoint pens can only be liquefied again with a solution.

That means: alcohol and alcohol-containing substances such as hairspray, nail polish remover and denatured alcohol. It’s best to test it out first in an inconspicuous area.