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How to Get Ink Out of Upholstery? – The Easiest Ways

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to get ink out of upholstery

Ink stains could be the most stubborn stain you will encounter every now and then, especially if you have your little ones at home. What’s more challenging is when it gets into the couch and other upholsteries.

In this article, I will tackle how to get ink out of upholstery the easy way by using home remedies such as milk, vinegar, alcohol, hairspray, and of course, soap and water.

Ways to Get Ink Out of Upholstery

1. Milk and Dish Soap Method


How is it possible for milk to remove ink from upholstery? The answer to that lies within the components of both substances and solubility.

Whole milk contains 3.2% fat, while most inks are manufactured to contain solvents and fat-soluble pigments. That way, ink easily dissipates when exposed to fatty substances such as milk. The dish soap is added to boost the cleaning effect.

If you find your couch to have a delicate fabric, this method should work for you, as it is a gentle enough fabric couch with no harsh chemicals involved.

What to do:

  1. Prepare the ink remover solution by mixing ⅔ cup of whole milk and ⅓ cup of dish soap in a cup.
  2. Apply the solution to the fabric couch using a small brush. Go by portion and brush lightly in a circular motion until the ink is removed.
  3. Repeat the process if some ink will not come off after the first application.
  4. After removing the ink, prepare the washing solution by mixing ½ cup of softener and ½ cup of water.
  5. Apply the washing solution using a clean towel to remove the soap from the fabric couch. Replace with a fresh towel if needed.
  6. Get another towel and a cup of water to remove the soap altogether.
  7. Finally, let the couch fabric dry.

2. Vinegar, Detergent, and Water Method


For this method, the active ingredient is vinegar. Commercially available vinegar contains more or less 5% Acetic Acid.

Like mild bleach, this combination removes ink stains through its neutralizing power.

Moreover, you have to bear its characteristic sour smell while cleaning but don’t worry, I will share a short tip on how you get rid of that here.

This method can get ink out of the sofa made with typical fabric, leather, and a suede couch.

What to do:

  1. Make the vinegar solution with a teaspoon of plain white vinegar and detergent. Add 2 cups of water to the mixture and gently stir.
  2. Transfer the vinegar mixture to a spray bottle for easy use. Or directly apply the mixture on the ink stain.
  3. Let the mixture react with the stain and leave for 10 to 30 minutes.
  4. Get a cup of water and wet the towel. Use this towel to wipe off the ink stain. Continue wiping until all ink is removed. You can replace the towel and repeat the process if needed.
  5. If you can still smell the vinegar after getting ink out of the sofa, you can spray any deodorizer or prepare your own by mixing fabric softener, alcohol, and water. That should remove the after smell.
  6. Allow it to dry.

3. Pure Rubbing Alcohol Method


Using solvents like alcohol could be a surefire way to remove ink from fabric and upholstery since inks typically contain 15-65% alcohol solvent and other derivatives. Moreover, not all alcohol is created with equal concentration.

For this method, the efficacy will depend on the purity of the alcohol. As much as possible, you would want to use alcohol with at least 90% concentration which can be found in most drugstores.

This method is proven to work on a velvet couch, microfiber couch, coated leather sofa, and can also get ink out of furniture with other types of fabrics.

What to do:

  1. Transfer rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle.
  2. Spray the rubbing alcohol generously on the terry cloth and rub it lightly on one part of the microfiber couch with ink. Again, it’s best to do it in part. Applying the solvent all over might just spread the ink.
  3. Reapply alcohol as needed. Since it’s starting to get wet, by this time the color of the fabric could get darker than usual, which is normal for a microfiber couch.
  4. Use the fresh side of the terry cloth or a separate cloth for other parts.
  5. Let the alcohol evaporate and dry. Your microfiber couch should return to its original color after drying.

4. Hair Spray Method


Aerosol hair sprays can have up to 75% alcohol in their formulation. Moreover, it has lesser purity, and you might have to apply more before removing the ink.

Like alcohol, this method is best for top coated leather only. Never use any alcohol-based product on uncoated leather.

It will pull out not only the ink but the alcohol in the hair spray and can remove the color of your leather sofa as well. Moreover, you can still use this method with other types of fabric sofas.

What to do:

  1. Get to the spot of the upholstery where the ink is and spray it with hairspray (it should be aerosol-type and alcohol-based).
  2. Apply hairspray on the ink spot.
  3. If you see the ink is starting to lift you can wipe it out with cotton immediately. If you see no sign of a reaction, leave it for 10 minutes.
  4. Wipe it out with a cotton ball. You can also use a wet towel.
  5. The ink should lighten up. Give it another round of hairspray and repeat the process to remove the remaining ink stains.

5. Alternative Methods

Aside from these methods above, here is a list of other solvents that are very effective in removing ink stains from upholstery.

Type of Upholstery Alternatives
Fabric Turpentine
Leather Lacquer Thinner,

Aerosol Sunscreen

Microfiber Baking Soda

Nail Polish Remover

Tip: Dealing with stubborn blue ink? A nail polish remover is all you need to get blue ink out of your upholstery.


Learning how to get ink out of upholstery is simple but before anything else make sure to check your upholstery code and check corresponding cleaning methods.

Note that if it’s coded X, you need to contact a professional to do the cleaning for you. Moreover, for Code W, you can use a water-based cleaning medium like the vinegar method.

If you have a Code S fabric, it can be cleaned using solvents like the alcohol method. If it’s coded W/S, it means any of the methods above is applicable as you can do both water and solvent-based cleaning.

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