Whether you’re a tattoo artist or someone who frequently gets inked, you’ve likely had to deal with tattoo ink on your clothes at some point.
Removing tattoo ink from clothing can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. You can use special detergents or soak the fabric in a solution of baking soda and water to help remove any lingering tattoo ink stains.
In this blog post, I’ll provide more information on how to get tattoo ink out of clothes. So whether you’re a first-time Tattoo Tim or a seasoned pro, read on for the best ways to get that pesky ink out.
Table of Contents
- Tattoo ink can be difficult to remove from clothing, but it is possible.
- Special detergents and a solution of baking soda and water are effective methods for removing tattoo ink from clothes.
- It is essential to treat a tattoo ink stain as soon as possible to minimize the damage.
Why Is It Hard To Get Tattoo Ink Out of Clothes?
Tattoo ink is a permanent pigment that is DIFFICULT to remove from clothing, and learning how to remove tattoo ink out of clothes is a challenge for many people.
It comprises various organic and inorganic pigments, which form a tight bond when applied to fabrics. This makes it NEARLY impossible to break down the particles without special detergents or other cleaning agents.
Additionally, some dyes used in tattoo ink can REACT with fabric and cause the ink to spread or bleed into other areas of the garment.
It’s always recommended for anyone getting tattooed or handling the equipment afterward to wear old clothing in case of spillage.
However, if you end up with tattoo ink stain clothes, there are still a few things you can do to try and remove the residue.
Pre-Treating Tattoo Ink on Clothing
If you have a fresh and wet stain, it’s best to pre-treat the fabric before attempting to remove ink stains to AVOID any further damage.
Pre-treating involves treating the stain with a special cleaning agent or detergent. This will help break down the ink particles and make them easier to remove.
A pre-treatment solution such as a laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, or any specialized stain remover designed for removing tattoo ink is RECOMMENDED.
The most EFFECTIVE way to do this is to blot the area with a damp cloth or paper towel to absorb as much excess ink as possible.
Once that’s done, you can use a special detergent to remove tattoo ink stains. These specially formulated solutions contain agents that help break down the pigment and LOOSEN its grip on the clothing fibers.
Pro Tip: Test a small area of your clothing with the pre-treatment solution before using it to ensure no discoloration or damage is caused.
How To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Clothes?
Once you’ve pre-treated the area, it’s time to move on to REMOVING the ink from your clothing.
Here are some of the most effective methods for getting tattoo ink out of clothes:
1. Lemon Juice, Salt, And Hairspray
This is a common and EFFECTIVE method for removing tattoos from clothing.
Mix equal parts of lemon juice, salt, and hairspray to form a paste. Apply the paste directly onto the area with a brush or sponge. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with cold water.
The combination of citric acid in the lemon juice and the alcohol in the hairspray work to break down and DISSOLVE any stubborn tattoo ink stains on your clothes.
2. Use Rubbing Alcohol
Pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto the stain and allow it to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing it with a clean cloth or brush. 
Rinse off thoroughly with cold water and repeat as necessary.
The alcohol in the rubbing helps to break down any stubborn pigments, making them EASIER to remove from the fabric fibers.
3. Use An Enzyme Cleaner
An enzyme cleaner is a specialized cleaning agent that helps to BREAK down the organic compounds in tattoos. They are usually found in pet stores and used on fabric and hard surfaces.
Apply the solution directly onto the stain, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cold water. Repeat as necessary until all traces of ink have been removed from your clothing.
4. Use Special Detergents
Special detergents designed SPECIFICALLY for removing tattoos are available in most drugstores and supermarkets.
Apply directly onto the tattoo area, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cold water. Repeat as necessary until all traces of ink have been removed from your clothing.
5. Water And Baking Soda Solution
Make a solution of two parts water to one part baking soda. Soak the stained area in the solution for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off with cold water.
Repeat the process until there is no more ink on your clothing.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide, Vinegar, And Baking Soda
Mix EQUAL parts of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and baking soda to form a paste. Apply the paste directly onto the area with a cloth or brush and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with cold water.
7. Use Baby Oil
Baby oil, while not as effective as other methods, can also remove tattoos from clothing.
Apply a small amount of baby oil to the tattoo area and MASSAGE it with a clean cloth or brush for 10-15 minutes.
8. Use Nail Polish Remover
Nail polish remover can remove tattoos from clothing, although it is not recommended for DELICATE fabrics.
Apply a small amount of nail polish remover directly onto a cotton ball and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off thoroughly with cold water.
9. Carefully Scrape The Stain Away
If you don’t have any of the above items, you can also try carefully scraping the tattoo stain away with a credit card or razor blade.
This method should only be used on fabrics that are not particularly delicate or fragile.
Run the card/blade over the area slowly, making sure not to damage the fabric. Gently scrape in a CIRCULAR motion until all traces of ink have been removed from your clothing.
10. Scrub With Laundry Boosters
Laundry boosters such as OxiClean or Biz are specifically designed for tough stains.
Mix the laundry booster with warm water, and apply it to a cloth or brush directly onto the stained area. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off completely with cold water. Repeat as necessary until all traces of ink have been removed.
11. Use Bleach-Based Cleaners
If all else fails, a bleach-based cleaner (oxygen bleach) can help remove even the toughest tattoo stains.
However, it is essential to note that bleach should only be used on non-delicate fabrics, as it may damage or DISCOLOUR fabric fibers.
Mix the cleaner with warm water and apply directly onto the stained area. Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off completely with cold water. Repeat until all ink is gone.
12. Sun Bleaching Method
The sun can also be used to help remove tattoos from clothing. Lay the item outside in direct sunlight for several hours and let nature take its course.
This method may take a few days, depending on the severity of the stain, but it is a great way to NATURALLY remove tattoos from clothing without any harsh chemicals or cleaning agents. 
Pro Tip: Ensure the item is damp and avoid leaving it in direct sunlight for too long.
ALSO CHECK: How to Make Grey Wash Tattoo Ink
When To Go To A Professional Cleaner?
If all else fails, you may need to take your clothing to a professional cleaner. They will be able to assess the severity of the stain and advise on the best course of action.
Professional cleaning can help remove even the toughest tattoo stains, but it is usually quite EXPENSIVE. So, if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive solution to removing tattoos from clothing, try one of the above methods.
Aftercare Tips For Your Clothing
After removing the tattoo stain from your clothing, it is essential to take a few steps to ensure that the fabric remains in good condition.
Always make sure that any product used to remove a tattoo has been THOROUGHLY rinsed off and air-dried before putting it in the washing machine. If not, residue can remain on the fabric and cause additional damage.
Additionally, use a MILD detergent when laundering clothes with tattoo stains and avoid laundry boosters or harsh chemicals, as these can further damage delicate fabrics.
Finally, always hang dry items with tattoo stains for the BEST results.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about getting tattoo ink on your clothes in the first place, opt for dark-colored items that are less likely to show stains.
Tips to Prevent Tattoo Ink from Getting on Your Clothes
Many tattoo artists recommend wearing old, dark-colored t-shirts or other loose-fitting items that cover the skin thoroughly. This will help keep the ink from TRANSFERRING onto your clothing and prevent accidental staining.
Additionally, it is essential to COVER the area with a towel or some other absorbent material. At the same time, your artist works, as this will help to catch any ink that might escape.
Finally, keeping the area CLEAN and dry for several days after getting a tattoo is essential to prevent ink from seeping onto clothing.
If you are a tattoo artist, you can also use a barrier cream to help PROTECT clothing from tattoo ink during the session. This will create a protective layer between your skin and the fabric, helping to keep it stain-free.
Can These Methods Work For All Fabrics?
No, these methods are not suitable for all fabrics. Always check the care label before attempting any of these methods to ensure they are safe for your clothing material.
Can I Use Hot Water To Remove Tattoo Ink?
Hot water can damage some fabrics, so it is generally advised to stick to cold or lukewarm water when removing a tattoo ink stain from clothing.
Will These Methods Work With All Types Of Tattoo Ink?
Yes, these methods can be used with all types of tattoo ink. However, they may take longer or require more effort, depending on the type of ink used.
Can I Use a Regular Detergent To Remove Tattoo Ink From My Clothes?
Regular detergents are not designed to remove tough stains such as tattoo ink, so it is usually recommended to use a special stain remover or laundry booster instead.
Which Method Is Best For Old Tattoo Stains?
Soaking clothes in a baking soda and water solution is often the best method for old tattoo stains, as it helps to break down the ink molecules.
In short, avoiding a tattoo disaster can be as simple as taking extra care when getting dressed.
If you end up with some ink stain on your clothing, don’t despair! You can quickly learn how to get tattoo ink out of clothes with simple steps.
Just remember to act quickly and treat the stain before it sets in permanently. You’ll have that annoying tattoo stain removed quickly with patience and elbow grease.
So, which method are you going to try first? Don’t forget to let me know in the comments section!
- 1. FISHEL H. How to Remove Almost Any Stain Using Alcohol [Internet]. WonderHowTo. 2015 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://housekeeping.wonderhowto.com/how-to/remove-almost-any-stain-using-alcohol-0162008/#:~:text=Simply%20apply%20the%20alcohol%20of
- 2. POSKIN A. Does Sun Bleaching Really Work? We Tried It [Internet]. Apartment Therapy. 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 5]. Available from: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sun-bleaching-laundry-test-review-257727