How To Remove Ink Stains From Plastic

If you’ve happened upon this how-to, chances are you’re wondering how to remove ink stains from plastic.

Ink stains are the pits; there’s no denying it. Ink pigment is purposefully designed to adhere to the surfaces it comes into contact with, for better or worse.

This can make things tricky when ink comes into contact with the wrong surface. Particularly with plastic, because plastic will absorb liquids, such as ink.

The volume of ink absorbed depends on the type of plastic, the amount of ink, and how long the ink has been on the plastic’s surface.

Do not fear, I’ve been down this road and will be sharing what has worked best for me to get my plastics ink-free!

Read on to learn exactly what you need when learning how to remove ink stains from plastic.

Items You’ll Need

This section has all of the items you will need to learn how to remove ink from plastic.


You will need warm water to assist in the cleaning process. Warm tap water will work well for this.

Dish Soap

Dish Soap will be combined with water to remove cleaning solutions for the plastic area you are cleaning.

Any dish soap will work for this.

I personally always use Dawn dish soap because it’s gentle and a potent cleaning agent at the same time.

Cotton Balls

Cotton balls will be used to remove ink with your cleaning solutions.

The good news here is that most households already have them on hand, and they are available in bulk!

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a fantastic cleaning agent.

It’s inexpensive and usually on hand.

I typically buy my rubbing alcohol in bulk on Amazon, to keep plenty on hand.


The sponge will be used to clean the plastic after you have removed the ink stain. 

This is the case with polyester as well.. 


Use a new, clean sponge.

You want to avoid getting any more stains or marks on your freshly cleaned plastic!


You will need a fresh, clean towel to dry off the plastic after you remove the stain.

A microfiber cleaning cloth works best for this step.

Optional Items 

These items are recommended to remove ink from plastic only if the first option does not work.

While these options are effective, they involve harsher chemicals that are not safe to breathe in for any length of time.

Also, the extended use of these chemicals on plastic could eventually damage the items you are would like to save.


Ammonia is a potent cleaning agent. While it is practical, please use caution as the fumes are strong and dangerous to breathe in.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover is a beautiful cleaning tool for ink stains on the plastic. 


Nail polish remover is effective at removing ink because it contains acetone.

While acetone helps remove ink, it soaks into the plastic and degrades the material.

Only use it when the first options don’t remove the ink.

Step-by-Step Instructions For How To Remove Ink Stains From Plastic

#1: Treat The Ink Stained Plastic As Soon As Possible

Ink has a strange way of bonding to material it contacts.

Great for paper, not so much for your plastics.

The sooner you take care of the ink stain, the more success you will have.

#2: Treat The Ink-Stained Plastic With Rubbing Alcohol

Thoroughly soak one of your cotton balls in rubbing alcohol and place it on your ink-stained plastic; let this sit for several seconds to allow the alcohol to loosen up the ink stain.

Gently rub your cotton ball over the ink-stained area.

You will see the ink begin to fade quickly.

The number of times you will apply alcohol to the ink stain depends on how much ink is on the plastic.

Use a freshly alcohol-soaked cotton ball each time you apply more rubbing alcohol.

Using a dirty cotton ball will make your ink problem worse!

#3: Clean The Treated Plastic With Warm, Soapy Water

Combine warm water with several drops of dish soap.

Soak your sponge in the soapy water and gently rub the area.

Be sure not to skip this step! Cleaning the treated area will remove all residue from the rubbing alcohol and prevent your plastic from becoming brittle. 

#4: Optional Step To Treat Ink Stains

If rubbing alcohol is not entirely sufficient because of the type of ink or the stain’s size, use either ammonia or nail polish remover.

Apply either of these cleaners with cotton balls, just as you did with the alcohol.

You will also repeat step 3 and clean the treated area with warm, soapy water.


Use with ammonia or nail polish remover, DO NOT MIX THEM!! This will cause hazardous fumes.

#5: Dry The Plastic

Use your clean towel to dry the treated area completely.

Allow the item to sit, untouched for some time to make sure it is completely dry.

This is particularly important if you are cleaning electronic items, such as earbuds!

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I use bleach to clean my ink-stained plastic items?

This answer is tricky.

While bleach can help the cleaning process, it will also damage certain plastics, causing permanent damage.

Bleach can even soak into certain plastics, which are harmful, especially if you are cleaning plastic dishes you will use for food.

Bottom line: only use bleach as a last resort and never in plastic dishes you use for keeping food.


Did you enjoy learning how to remove ink stains from plastic?

I hope you did.

You have the power to take care of ink stains in plastic on your own as long as you have the right tools mentioned above.

Follow the steps carefully, and you and your plastic will be in good shape.

Please do not think the ink on plastic is a lost cause and toss the item!

Your solution consists of a few cheap cleaning items and less time than you make think, easy-peasy!

Good luck!!