Published on Jan 23, 2020

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License Info: Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC

Most carpet cleaners are wary about ink spots or stains. Many of them have experienced limited success in removing them from carpet. Ink stains are particularly difficult to deal with when found on light colored high density plush pile carpets.

One of the peculiar characteristics of ink spots, is the ease with which it spreads in the carpet after an initial application of a solvent. That is why extra care must be taken to avoid rubbing the stain. Blotting, or extraction with a wet vac is the recommended method for its removal.

Ink is usually produced by dissolving large amounts of varying kinds of pigment in some sort of soluble resin. Some types of these resins are water soluble, but others are only soluble in chemicals like alcohols, ethers or other volatile organic compounds (VOC). Incidentally, contrary to popular opinion, ink can be hazardous to health if ingested, so be careful.

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Everybody knows that there are many kinds of inks with varying chemical properties. Children will use everything from crayons, ball point pens, drawing inks to markers. All children are not equally careful. Some will spill ink accidentally, while others will do it while trying to find out how the pen works.

The challenge then, is to determine how to proceed when attempting to remove ink from the carpet. When ink made with a solvent soluble resin is spotted first with a normal ink removal volatile organic solvent like alcohol or acetone, the resin alone may be removed, leaving the stain on the carpet. We need therefore, in this case, to always start with a non-volatile solvent.

There is another potential problem where the ink is made from solvent soluble resins. If a water based solvent is used first, it sets up a barrier which causes the VOC solvents to be much less effective, and the stain could set.

The first step in removing ink from the carpet then, is to find out if the stain is water soluble. Test for color fastness in an inconspicuous place like inside a closet or in a corner behind a door. If the color begins to disappear, continue with this type of solvent. If not, blot up this solvent and use the water soluble solvent.

Water is the best first option for a householder. Get the spot wet, and use a clean white towel to blot (not rub) the spot repeatedly. Change the towel when it becomes totally soiled. You don’t want to spread the ink to other locations.

If this doesn’t work, try using a little mild dish washing liquid. Dilute by mixing about one teaspoon to a small cup of water. Use this as you did before with the water alone.

If ink still remains, try using a VOC like rubbing alcohol next. This should get rid of most freshly deposited ink. If none of this works, call in a professional carpet cleaning company. Make sure the company employs well trained and certified professionals who will know something about cleaning chemistry.

You may spare yourself a lot of grief, and maintain ink stain free carpet, by doing all of this.

Victor Nugent is Owner and President of AJS Carpet Cleaning, Inc. with over 10 years experience in the Carpet Cleaning business.

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