How To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Carpet? (5 Steps)

Photo of a person cleaning a blue carpet with a sponge and a cleaning product. How To Get Tattoo Ink Out Of Carpet?

If you’ve had the unfortunate luck of spilling a little or a lot of tattoo ink on your carpet, here’s what you should know to remove the spill so that it’s as if it never happened!

If you’ve gotten tattoo ink onto your carpet, the first thing to do is blot any excess ink you can with a paper towel or a shop rag. From there, treat the stain with ethanol alcohol for 5 minutes and then remove it with a clean rag.

After this pretreatment, you can use a series of stain removers and/or hairspray, baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and water, shaving cream, milk, or a vacuum. After that, you’ll want to steam clean it.

There’s a lot to learn about how to get ink out of your carpet! Take a look below.

What ingredients are in tattoo ink?

The first thing to understand why tattoo ink can be so stubborn by seeing the actual ingredients in the tattoo ink. Some of the most common colors in a tattoo are black and red. The ingredients in black and red tattoo ink include:

  • Iron oxide
  • Magnetite
  • Wustite
  • Nickel
  • Cadmium sulfide
  • Cadmium selenide 
  • Ferric hydrate
  • Mercury sulfide
  • Azo compound

The ingredients from this list come from Wikipedia, and it’s just the start since every color has a different list!

Can you get tattoo ink out of fabric?

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you know that the answer to this is (thankfully) yes! However, there is a precise approach to how you should do it, including pretreating, removing, and post-treatment.

Can dried tattoo ink stains be removed from the carpet?

In most cases, you can remove dried tattoo ink from a carpet. You’ll likely need to do several rounds of cleaning if it’s dried on your carpet already. It might be impossible to remove the stain if you have a light carpet color with a black or dark color stain. It’s always better to start treating the stain when it’s wet.

How do you remove tattoo ink from the carpet fast?

Speed is your friend when tackling the ink spill. The pretreatment is the most effective part of removing the stain as efficiently as possible. Below, I’ve talked about the step-by-step process!

What can dissolve tattoo ink?

The Cold Wire explains that the best choices will be alcohol, nail polish remover, hairspray, bleach, vinegar, and stain remover products.

What products should I avoid for ink removal?

Just as there are good products for ink removal, there are also some ones to avoid. Generally, the iffy products include:

  • Bleach
  • WD40
  • Vaseline

To be clear, you can technically use these products. They just aren’t the safest or most effective choices for your carpet to remove stains. It’s a lot of risk for no great reward. You’ll want to first check with your carpet manufacturer or a cleaning specialist. The last thing you want to do is cause further damage to your carpet, after all!

How to get tattoo ink out of carpet step by step

Now that I’ve discussed the basics, let’s dive into the actual tattoo ink stain removal process. Here are the steps again:

  1. Blot
  2. Pretreat
  3. Clean
  4. Steam
  5. Dry

1. Blot

Did you know that this is one of the best details to help make stain removal easier? Yet many skip it because they think it’s more important to start pretreating it. Grab a paper towel or a shop rag, and lightly but thoroughly blot at the stain. Every time the cloth gets saturated, get a fresh one. Do this until the blotting fabric comes up dry/clean. The more you remove at this stage, the easier and faster the stain removal will be!

2. Pretreat

Next is the pretreatment stage. As you’ll remember from above, this is a really important focus stage for the cleaning process. Pretreatment will start chemically breaking down the ink stain to lift easier when you clean your carpet or rug. Your best choice for pretreatment is ethanol alcohol. You can also use nail polish remover (acetone) if this is all that you have available.

The alcohol will break down the ink and help loosen it from the carpet’s fibers. Just make sure that you only live it on for 5 minutes! Alcohol can start to break down the fibers of the carpet itself and even the backing on it if you leave it on too long. Blot it thoroughly from the carpet, and then use warm water to ensure that you’ve removed it entirely. You’ll notice quite a lot of the ink will come off on your rags.

Sometimes the warm water rinse can spread the ink to other fibers, but don’t worry — this is just the first stage. Blot it dry, and don’t worry if the stain seems bigger. 

3. Clean

Now that you’ve pretreated the stain, you must start cleaning it! You’ve got quite a few options available, so let’s look closely at them to see what’s best.

  • Commercial stain removal products
  • Hairspray
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Dish soap and water
  • Shaving cream
  • Milk
  • Vacuum cleaner

Commercial stain removal products

These include OxiClean, Zep, CLR, purpose-designed carpet cleaners, etc. My favorite is OxiClean because the powdered approach works much better for absorption and the actual stain removal itself. You can use it straight or mix it with water.

You can use your favorite or simply shop around and see which ones will feel best for your own situation!


This works best if you have a firm-hold hairspray. Empty half the can onto the stain and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The spray’s chemicals will release the ink from the carpet and lift it off afterward. Take clean rags and blot again. Do this until the rag is dry, as you did with the pretreatment.

Baking soda

Sprinkle a healthy dose of baking soda onto the ink stain. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Mix it with water if you want (I do this approach). Blot it off. Baking soda is basically a natural version of OxiClean.


You can also pour some vinegar onto the stain. If you let it sit for 10 minutes and then blot it dry, its acidity will help break down and lift the stain from the carpet’s fibers. Be careful if you use this approach on a dark-hued carpet, though; vinegar can bleach or discolor the carpet!

Hydrogen peroxide

Follow the steps above like you did with the methods using hydrogen peroxide. This can bleach your fabric, too, since it’s so potent. If your carpet materials are very sensitive, this might not be the best choice!

Dish soap and water

This isn’t as strong as your other methods, but it can do well without risking your carpet fibers! You’ll want a strong dish detergent mixed with plenty of warm water. Spread it liberally over the stain and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then blot it off again. Even if you have to do this several times. It can offer a lot of comfort for those who want to protect their carpets.

Shaving cream

This works pretty much identically to the hairspray, though you won’t need to put nearly as much on the carpet. The chemicals in the shaving cream will separate the ink from the carpet and then lift it off when you gently wipe (and then blot) the cream off. 


Drop some milk onto the stain, allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes, and then blot it dry. You’ll probably want to thoroughly rinse this with dish soap and water or just water since it might curdle if there are traces left over in the carpet!

Vacuum cleaner

After the carpet is clean and dry, you can move on to the next step of the vacuum cleaner. This isn’t the best choice for straight cleaning, so don’t think you can skip pretreatment. This is great for lifting any lingering particles of the ink. It’s also good to help lift out whatever you can for leftover moisture!

4. Steam

Next, you’ll want to consider steaming your carpet! This is a great final step to help thoroughly clean and lift any stains that have dried into your fibers. It also helps get your carpet looking fresh in general, so it’s a great final touch!

Central Home Services warns that it’s a wonderful finishing touch but can’t and shouldn’t replace your other treating and cleaning processes.

To get your carpet back to its best shape, you’ll want to blot any excess tattoo ink and then pre-treat it with alcohol or nail polish remover.

After you’ve pretreated, you can start cleaning with commercial stain removal products or use DIY options such as hairspray, baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and water, shaving cream, or milk. A vacuum or steamer can also come in handy if you use them properly!

If you know someone prone to spills, consider sharing this with them to help them protect their carpets!

Rosa Peterson

Rose is the writer and creator of Better That Home, a blog about home design and decor. Rose has been designing spaces for over 10 years and writing home design and decor for big publishers. She has been inspired by many other creatives from around the world and loves to share those inspirations with her readers. Read more about Rose here