Removing ink from paper can range from reasonably easy to virtually impossible. I have dealt with numerous types of paper and inks over the years and tried many different methods. These are the ones I’ve found that work.
The best ways to remove ink from paper are using rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, nail polish remover or acetone, a paste of baking soda and water, a razor blade, an ink eraser, or correction tape/fluid/white-out.
Before using chemicals, you might want to try using an ink eraser like this one found on Amazon. Any liquid removal method can damage the paper or make it brittle. In fact, you may not need any kind of chemical at all, just a bit of time and patience.
Let’s take a closer look at these methods and other important information you need to know about removing ink from paper.
1. Get an Ink Eraser
If you work with ink a lot and are prone to making mistakes, it’s worth investing in an ink eraser. Several brands are available, and you can buy them online or at a stationery or school supplies shop.
Here is one found on Amazon that is designed to remove both ink and pencil.
In most cases, an ink error works best when you want to remove blue ink. It’s also more effective on paper that has been written on rather than printed.
An ink eraser works in the same way as a pencil eraser. To get rid of the ink, rub the eraser over it until it comes off.
Keep in mind that some ink erasers are more abrasive than others, so it’s a good idea not to apply too much pressure. Ink erasers may also leave streaks on the paper. Therefore, this might not be the best ink removal method if you need an immaculate finish.
2. Use a Razor Blade
Another option is to use a blade. A simple razor blade will do; you don’t need anything fancy.
This method allows you to scrape the ink off the paper rather than blotting it off. It’s particularly effective if you need to remove printer ink from paper.
The caveat is that using a razor blade is risky. It’s easy to nick your fingers, not to mention that you can also shave off the top layer of paper or tear it completely if you’re not careful.
But with a few precautions, you can avoid these risks. Here are the most critical safety tips to keep in mind:
- Work in a well-lit room so you can see what you’re doing.
- Work on a hard surface like a table or countertop.
- Put something underneath your paper (like a piece of stiff cardboard), so you don’t accidentally scratch the table should you press too hard.
- Be gentle when scrapping off the ink. If you apply a lot of pressure and scrape the table, there’s a good chance your paper will be destroyed too.
To remove the ink, hold the razor blade steady against the paper at a vertical angle and run it over the ink you want to remove. It should scrape off as you move it.
Sometimes using a razor blade and an ink eraser will work in tandem if neither will work separately.
3. Apply Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is commonly used as a detergent, but it also works well at removing ink from paper. Since it’s a strong chemical compound, you should not pour it directly onto your paper. Doing this will soak the page and likely erase the ink you don’t want to be removed.
Instead, pour a little rubbing alcohol onto a cotton swab and let it soak for a few seconds. Then, carefully dab the cotton ball onto the ink you want to erase.
It’s best to use a smaller cotton swab, so you don’t erase parts of the ink unintentionally. Also, be sure that you gently dab the paper rather than rub it because rubbing can damage the page.
Rubbing alcohol is relatively inexpensive and easy to find. It’s also a good option because it doesn’t have a potent smell, making it easier to work with for people who are sensitive to strong odors.
4. Apply Nail Polish Remover or Acetone
Acetone is somewhat more potent than rubbing alcohol. It is often found in nail polish remover and is quite effective at removing ballpoint and gel ink.
When erasing ink from paper with acetone or nail polish remover, it’s a good idea to block out parts of the ink that you don’t want to remove. You can do this by covering these parts with pieces of paper or cloth, leaving the ink you want to remove exposed.
You’ll also want to place a cloth between the pages if you’re working on a book or document with multiple pages. Acetone is quite harsh and can cause the ink to seep onto the surface beneath it, so you want to protect any pages underneath the one you’re working on.
As for the removal process, soak a cotton swab in a small amount of acetone or nail polish remover and gently blot it on the ink you want to erase. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. Acetone has quite a strong smell, and inhaling its fumes can cause symptoms like headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and more.
Here is a good video showing ink being removed from paper with acetone:
5. Use Lemon Juice
You can also use lemon juice to remove ink from paper as long as it’s pure. Lemonade or even lemon juice diluted with water won’t be effective as you need the maximum amount of acid found in lemons.
You can pour a little lemon juice onto a cotton ball and dab it over the ink, or you can use a dropper or toothpick to pour a tiny amount of lemon juice directly onto the ink you’re trying to remove. The acidity in the lemon juice should lift the ink from the paper.
6. Apply a Paste of Baking Soda and Water
You likely have baking soda in your kitchen. If you do, you can use it to remove ink from paper.
To begin, make a paste. The amount you’ll need to make will depend on how much ink you need to erase, but a little goes a long way. Start by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to a small bowl and a little water. You don’t want the paste to be watery because it will soak through the paper, so aim for a thickish consistency.
How you apply the paste will depend on how large an area you need to clean. If it’s a reasonably large area, you can apply the paste to the ink you need to erase with the back of a teaspoon. For more minor ink spots, dip a toothpick into the paste and use it to spread the paste over the ink.
Again, apply the paste gently because if you rub it into the paper too harshly, the page may tear.
7. Use Correction Tape, Correction Fluid, or White-Out
While correction tape, correction fluid, and white-out won’t technically remove the ink, they will hide whatever you want to be erased. They all work similarly; you will need to apply them over the ink you want to erase to cover up your mistake.
When using correction tape or correction fluid, you must wait for it to dry before writing over it. The only exception is correction tape; it dries instantly, meaning you can write over it without waiting.
Correction tape and white-out might give you a rough finish, whereas correction tape is smooth. They all cover up ink just as effectively, so your choice depends on your preferred finish.
Correction tape, correction fluid, and white-out work best on white paper. But even then, it’s unlikely that the “erased” part will perfectly blend in with the rest of the page. Still, it’s a good option for delicate paper or when you’re looking for a quick fix.
Things To Consider Before Attempting To Remove Ink From Paper
Here’s what you need to consider to choose the most appropriate ink removal method:
The Type of Ink You Need to Remove
You must first establish the type of ink you want to remove. Inks like pen ink, printer ink, and fountain pen ink are relatively easy to remove using things you likely have at home. On the other hand, marker ink and calligraphy ink are more challenging to remove from paper. You will probably need specialized correcting tools to remove these inks effectively without damaging the page.
Some inks, like permanent markers, are virtually impossible to erase, so if you’ve made a mistake using a stubborn ink, you will probably need to toss the paper and begin with a clean sheet or use correction tape, correction fluid, or white-out.
How Much Ink Needs to Be Removed and Where It’s Located
The next consideration is how much ink you need to remove and how close it is to images or writing you don’t want to be removed. It may be difficult to salvage a page if most of it is covered in ink that you need to remove. Also, if the ink you want to remove is close to or overlays other artwork or texts, you may damage or remove these accidentally.
The Type of Paper the Ink is On
Lastly, you need to take into account the paper the ink is on. Delicate paper, like tissue paper, may be problematic to work with and could likely become damaged in your attempt to remove the ink.
On the other hand, stronger paper, like printer paper, is less likely to get damaged and easier to work with.
Does Brake Fluid Remove Ink From Paper?
Brake fluid removes ink from paper. To use it for ink removal, use a dropper to apply a small amount of the fluid onto the ink you want to remove. Leave the brake fluid on the ink for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a cotton swab or cloth.
Brake fluid is poisonous, so make sure it doesn’t get onto your skin. To be doubly safe, wash your hands thoroughly after you finish working.
Also, ensure that you use brake fluid in a well-ventilated area. Working outside is highly recommended. If that’s not an option, open the windows to air out the room you’re working in.
Can Bleach Remove Ink From Paper?
Bleach can remove ink from paper. To use it for ink removal, get a cotton swab or Q-tip and dip it into the bleach, making sure you only get a tiny bit. Next, gently blot the cotton swab or Q-tip against the ink to remove it.
Be sure not to dab the paper too long because the bleach could turn the page yellow. Additionally, be careful not to use too much bleach because that can break down the paper and destroy it.
Lastly, wear protective gear (gloves are highly recommended) to prevent the bleach from getting on your skin. You don’t want to inhale its fumes either; work outside if you can, or have all your windows open if you’re working indoors.
Best Way To Remove Ink From Paper Without Leaving a Mark
If you’re after a clean finish, the best options are to use acetone, lemon juice, or the baking soda water paste method. These methods are usually effective in erasing the ink without leaving any marks, smudges, or tell-tale signs that you made a mistake.
Best Way To Remove Ink From Paper Check
You may have made a mistake on a check and need to erase it to rewrite the correct information. Check paper is usually not too delicate, so you can remove the ink using one of the methods mentioned above.
Often, people use black ink to fill in a check, which is sometimes a bit harder to remove. Brake fluid, acetone, and rubbing alcohol should all remove ink from a check without damaging it. You may have to repeat that process of applying the brake fluid, acetone, or rubbing alcohol onto the paper a few times.
If the ink is particularly stubborn, don’t be tempted to add so much of the product you’re using that the check becomes wet. Instead, allow the check to dry before dabbing on more of the product.
How Do I Remove Ink From a Printed Page?
The best way to remove ink from a printed page is using a razor blade. If using a razor blade is too much of a risk for you, try using sandpaper. Make sure the sandpaper you’re working with is extra fine, and sand in one direction.
Unfortunately, products like acetone or lemon juice won’t work on printed ink. A razor blade and sandpaper are you’re only options. Sanding might not even be an option if you’re working on extremely thin paper. It only works on thick paper, as you’re inevitably going to sand off little bits of the paper as you remove the ink.
For more, check out How to Remove Glue From Fabric (Without Damaging It).
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Hey, I’m Jim, and I’m the author of this website. I have been teaching people a wide variety of survivalism topics for over five years and have a lifetime of experience fishing, camping, general survivalism, and anything in nature. In fact, while growing up, I spent more time on the water than on land! I am also a best-selling author and have a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. I hope you find value in the articles on this website. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or input!