Very few things cause panic and chaos in the office like a big, ugly ink stain. Unfortunately, pens, markers, and toners are ubiquitous in the business setting. If you catch it quickly and know a few tricks, ink, toner, and marker stain removal can be quick and easy.
Washable or Water-Based Ink Stains
For stains from dry-erase markers and other water-based products, quick action is almost guaranteed to get the stain out with little or no trace. Mix a little liquid dish soap into warm water. Dunk the corner of a white cotton towel into the soap mixture and dab (never rub) at the stain until it’s gone. After the spot dries, lightly vacuum the area. This method will work on most soft surfaces, including carpet, upholstery, and even clothing.
Ball Point Ink and Permanent Marker
Now things are going to get tricky. Again, speed is your friend. The more the ink dries, the harder it will be to remove. Spray the stain with hair spray, which will help soften the ink and loosen the stain. Use isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and your trusty white, cotton towel, and dab at the stain until it disappears. Hopefully you will see the ink begin to transfer from the stained area to your towel. Rotate the towel to a clean spot frequently to avoid re-depositing ink. Once the spot is gone, dab lightly with warm water, allow to dry, and vacuum the area.
The cardinal rule for spilled toner: NEVER use liquid of any kind. Toner spills can simply be vacuumed up, using a commercial vacuum cleaner, assuming the spill is less than about 2” in diameter. If it’s larger than that, you run the risk of putting too much of the micro-fine particles into the air, potentially causing respiratory problems.
While these tips should work for most spills and stains, it is important to consider whether or not the stained surface is washable, color-fast, or delicate. If you attempt to clean a delicate surface with rubbing alcohol, you could cause permanent damage. Likewise, if your carpet or upholstery is not color-fast, you might leave behind an ugly discoloration.
When in doubt, it’s better to be safe and call in a professional.
A commercial cleaning service will have the right tools and knowledge to correctly remove the stain, ensuring a better outcome and the safety of everyone in the office. This is especially true for large toner stains, as professional vacuums have the ability to filter these fine particles and keep them out of the air.