How to Remove Pen Ink from Paper without Damaging It

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

How to Remove Pen Ink From Paper

Ink stains on paper can be a frustrating ordeal, especially when they mar an otherwise pristine document or artwork. But with a few clever techniques up your sleeve, you can easily remove pen ink from paper and fix pen mistakes without white-out.

In this guide on how to remove pen ink from paper, we will explore methods and hacks to erase pen that will help you bid adieu to ink stains!

5 Methods for Removing Pen Ink Stains From Paper without Leaving a Mark

Method 1 – Using Acetone


Materials You Will Need

  1. Acetone
  2. Cotton balls or a soft, lint-free cloth
  3. Blotting paper or paper towels
  4. Clean, dry cloth or towel

Steps to follow:


  1. Work in a well-ventilated area: Acetone fumes can be strong, so make sure you are working in a well-ventilated space to avoid inhaling the vapors.
  2. Test on a small area: Before attempting to erase ink from paper, test the acetone on a small paper to see how it reacts.
  3. Apply acetone: Moisten a cotton ball or soft, lint-free cloth with a small amount of acetone, which will serve as ball pen ink remover. Be sure not to soak the paper. You want to use just enough to dampen the stained area.
  4. Blot the stain: Gently blot the ink stain with the acetone-dampened cloth. Again, avoid rubbing the stain vigorously, as it can damage the paper.

Tip: Patience is key! Removing ink from paper using acetone requires patience, as it can be a slow and delicate process. You may need to repeat steps 5 to 7 several times to delete ink.

  1. Dry the paper: Once you are satisfied with the ink removal, let the paper air dry completely. You can press it with a clothing iron, if necessary.

If you prefer methods without acetone, consider these next ones

Method 2 – Using Sandpaper


Materials You Will Need

  1. Sandpaper
  2. Soft cloth or brush
  3. Cotton swabs
  4. Clean, flat surface

Steps to follow:


  1. Gently rub the inked area: Take the sandpaper and lightly rub the inked area of the paper using small, circular motions. Be gentle and apply minimal pressure to avoid damaging the paper fibers.
  2. Clean debris: Use a soft cloth or brush to clean off any ink particles and paper debris from the sanding process. You can also use cotton swabs to reach small areas.
  3. Stop when satisfied: Continue the sanding process until you are satisfied with the result. Note that some ink stains may not completely disappear, but they should fade significantly.
  4. Final check and clean-up: Examine the paper once more to ensure all the unwanted ink has been removed. Carefully clean any remaining debris or dust from the paper’s surface.

Method 3 – Using Rubbing Alcohol


Materials You Will Need

  1. Rubbing alcohol
  2. Cotton balls or cotton swabs
  3. Clean, soft cloth or paper towels
  4. Clear tape (Optional, for delicate paper)

Steps to follow


  1. Test on a small area: Before you get pen off paper, test the rubbing alcohol on a smal piece of paper. This ensures that the rubbing alcohol does not cause any unwanted damage or discoloration.
  2. Dab the cotton ball/swab: Moisten a cotton ball or cotton swab with a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
  3. Blot the stain: Gently blot the ink stain with the moistened cotton ball or swab.
  4. Work from the outside in: Start blotting the ink stain from the outer edges and work your way toward the center. This technique helps prevent the ink from spreading further into the paper.
  5. Replace the cotton ball/swab as needed: If the cotton ball or swab becomes too saturated with ink, replace it with a fresh one to avoid reapplying the ink back onto the paper.
  6. Pat dry: Once you have effectively lifted the ink stain, use a clean, soft cloth or paper towel to pat the area dry. Be careful not to rub the paper too vigorously.

Tip: If you are dealing with delicate or thin paper, you can try lifting the stain with tape. Place the tape over the ink stain, press it down lightly, and then peel it off. The ink may stick to the tape, and this can help lift some of the stain.

Method 4 – Using Baking Soda & Water


Materials You Will Need

  1. Baking soda
  2. Water
  3. Cotton swabs or a soft brush
  4. Absorbent paper towels or cloths

Steps to follow


  1. Create a baking soda paste: In a small container, mix a bit of baking soda with a few drops of water to make a paste.
  2. Apply the baking soda paste: Apply a thin layer of the paste directly onto the ink stain using a cotton swab or a soft brush.
  3. Leave it on the stain: Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the ink stain for a few minutes. It will start to absorb the ink and lift it from the paper.
  4. Blot the area: After a few minutes, take a clean, dry cotton swab or paper towel and gently blot the area to remove the baking soda paste and the dissolved ink.
  5. Repeat if necessary: Depending on the severity of the ink stain, you may need to repeat steps 4 to 6 several times until the stain is completely gone or significantly reduced.
  6. Pat dry: Carefully pat the treated area to remove excess moisture.

Method 5 – Using A Fine-Grit Grinder


Materials You Will Need

  1. Fine-grit grinder
  2. Safety goggles
  3. Dust mask
  4. Protective gloves
  5. Soft brush

Steps to follow


  1. Take safety precautions: Put on your safety goggles, dust mask, and gloves. Fine-grit grinding can produce fine particles that you want to avoid inhaling or getting into your eyes.
  2. Grind it on the paper: Gently hold the fine-grit grinder and apply light pressure on the surface of the paper where the ink needs to be removed. Move the grinder in small circular motions or in straight lines, depending on the size and shape of the area you are working on.
  3. Monitor your progress: Frequently stop and check the paper’s surface to see how much ink has been removed. It is important to be patient and work slowly to avoid tearing the paper or grinding too deeply.
  4. Clean the grinder: As you work, the grinder may accumulate ink and paper dust. Turn off the grinder and use a soft brush to clean off any residue. This will prevent the ink from being redistributed back onto the paper during the process.
  5. Gradually increase pressure if necessary: If the ink is particularly stubborn, you may need to apply slightly more pressure to take ink off paper. However, be cautious not to overdo it.
  6. Clean up: When you have finished the ink removal process, clean up the work area thoroughly to remove any remaining dust or ink particles.


With the assortment of effective pen ink removal techniques we have explored in the guide on how to remove pen ink from paper, you can now confidently tackle mishaps with ease. Remember, whether you are working to erase pen ink from legal papers or from paper checks, it is important to act quickly but carefully!

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