Often I find myself wondering if I am the most unlucky person alive or if my friends and family are the only ones that have had the unnerving experience of pens leaking in our pockets, lipstick on my shirt sleeve or Kool-Aid on my daughter’s school uniform.
Am I alone? Do your kids return from school with a pen markings on the back of their shirt or juice on their sleeve? Great! I am not alone and now I have someone to share these easy tips with for removing dye stains from clothing, carpet, furniture, upholstery and leather — naturally, without harmful chemicals or cleaning solutions.
Types of Dye Stains
Unlike protein stain removal, I believe that dye stains are the most difficult of all the stain groups to treat and remove — stemming from their basic usefulness and very design. Many products formulated to permanently retain their deeply saturated and bright colors can be the main source for these pain-in-the-neck stains. And because these products are intentionally manufactured using specific chemical formulations, it is nearly impossible to treat and/or remove dye stains with a simple blanket-style remedy or secret potion.
Typically, dye stains are from the obvious causes such as permanent markers, hair dyes, fountain pens and juice drinks; however, dye stains can also come from medicines, crayons, cosmetics, shoe polish,candy or products made with flavored gelatin. All require attention; many will test your patience and occasionally call for you to be very persistent. The best bet is to treat each stain individually and carefully.
Treatment of Ink (felt-tip) Stains
It is important to note that ball-point ink marks are not a dye-based stain. For tips to remove a stain from a ballpoint pen, read “How to Remove Grass and Ballpoint Ink Stains Naturally”.
As with ink stains, if you have the offending pen, use it to mark a testing area on either a similar fabric or in an inconspicuous spot on the clothing to discover which treatment method will work best.
When the stain is on washable fabric: Blot fresh/wet felt-tip stains between white cotton cloths or white paper towels to remove as much ink as possible. Mix a few drops of ammonia with 1 teaspoon of Dawn dish washing liquid in 1 cup of warm water and gently dab the cleaning solution on the stain with a cotton swab. Use folded paper towels or a rag as a pad under the mark to absorb the ink as it rinses through the fabric and out of the clothing. Launder the garment as usual or wash the fabric according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. If the stain continues to be stubborn, treat it with isopropyl (or denatured) alcohol. Bleach really persistent stains with hydrogen peroxide.
If the offending stain is on your carpet or upholstery: Blot fresh felt-tip marker stains with cotton swabs or tightly rolled white paper towels to remove any excess. Natural Stain Removal Secrets warns, “Dab stains with isopropyl or denatured alcohol, using a cotton swab to treat only the spot.”
Treatment of Ink (fountain pen) Stains
When the stain is on washable fabric: “Use cool water to rinse away as much of the ink as possible”, advises Deborah Martin, author of “Natural Stain Removal Secrets”. Then blot the area with diluted ammonia (equal parts ammonia and water for stains on wool or silk) and rinse with cool water. Use vinegar to neutralize ammonia if color change occurs. Sponge any remaining stain with 1 tsp of clear dish washing liquid in 1 cup of warm water. Launder the item in warm water.
For old or dried on stains, soak items overnight in a solution of 1/2 cup of ammonia in 2 quarts of water. Launder item in warm water.
If the mark is on leather: First rule is to act quickly to prevent the ink from soaking into the leather. Moisten a white cloth with turpentine and gently dab on spots to remove them.
Treatment of Marker (permanent)
If the stain is on washable fabric: Place a pad (a clean white cloth or paper towels) under the stain. Using another clean white cloth or cotton ball (depending on the size of the stain) to gently blot denatured alcohol on the spot, repositioning the pad and sponging cloth frequently to avoid spreading (or reapplying) the stain/mark. Remember to work from the outer edges of the affected area inward. Continue blotting with the alcohol until the stain no longer transfers onto the padding cloth, then sponge with lukewarm water with a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Launder as usual once the stain has disappeared.
Note: Crayola suggests on their website to soak the fabric in hot water and detergent overnight before laundering.
When the stain is on the wall: Treat fresh marks with a damp cloth or sponge. Dampen with lukewarm water and a tsp of dishwashing liquid. Afterwards, moisten a cloth (or even a cotton ball) with isopropyl alcohol and rub any remaining marks — working from the outer edges of the area inward. Be sure to hold a clean cloth or paper towel underneath the area to prevent any drips from spreading the stain and creating cleaning streaks.
For a persistent stain, rub with a mild abrasive, such as plain (non-gel) white toothpaste. Wipe with a damp sponge until the toothpaste film is gone.
As with anything involving children, clothing and things that cause spills and messes — patience is required. Coupled with knowledge, you will be able to have your child’s garments free of unsightly stains and blemishes.
Important Note: Use only white, pure white paper towels, rags and/or cloths. Non-white items used to remove dye stains will bleed and complicate the process.
More from Associated Content:
“How to Remove Grass and Ballpoint Ink Satins Naturally”
“How to Remove Protein Stains Naturally “
My Aunt Myrtle
“Natural Stain Removal Secrets”(2007), Deborah L. Martin