We all know it’s important to check your pockets before putting clothes into the laundry, but in reality, it’s easy to forget. Usually, the consequences are no worse than having to pick little bits of Kleenex off your clothes, or perhaps fishing some coins out of the bottom of your washing machine.
But what if you leave a pen in your pocket, and it goes unnoticed not only through the wash cycle, but through a cycle in your dryer too? The heat of the dryer and the tumbling motion can cause the ink to spread—all over your laundry and the inside of your dryer as well!
Don’t freak out just yet though—you’re not doomed to get ink all over your clothes every time you dry a load of laundry. There are a variety of easy, effective methods you can use to remove ink from your dryer—read on to find out our top tips!
Step 1: Identify the type of ink
The type of ink makes a big difference to the best way to remove it, so find out what type of ink has stained the interior of your dryer. Find the rogue pen that ended up in your dryer to figure out what type of ink you’re dealing with, then refer to the list below to learn which solvent or cleaning product works best to remove it.
- Ballpoint pen: Ballpoint pen ink is usually oil-based, and needs to be removed with a solvent that can absorb oil. Some options include rubbing alcohol, methylated spirits, or hairspray.
- Gel pen or rollerball pen: Gel pens and rollerball pens are water-based, and can be more difficult to remove than ballpoint pen ink. Effective options for this type of ink include a methylated spirit or acetone.
- Permanent marker: Permanent marker ink is alcohol-based, and tends to be the most difficult type of ink to remove. Options for cleaning include methylated spirit or WD-40.
Step 2: Wipe away the ink
Once you’ve identified the type of ink, the next step is to clean away all visible ink on the dryer’s interior. Follow these steps:
- Turn off or unplug your dryer to ensure your safety.
- Use a soft cloth or rag and a generous amount of the cleaning product of your choice, ensuring it corresponds with the type of ink inside the dryer drum.
- In gentle, circular motions, rub at all ink patches inside your dryer. You may need to refresh your rag with more cleaning products if it begins to be less effective.
- If any patches prove stubborn, try soaking the rag in the cleaning product and pressing it to the ink for 10-20 seconds, before wiping firmly.
- When you’ve finished, wipe down the interior of your dryer with a clean, dampened cloth to remove any residue.
Step 3: Use an abrasive on the remaining ink spots
If any spots still remain from step two, you’ll need to use something more abrasive. Our favorite choice is a firm sponge, such as a Magic Eraser. They’re made with melamine and are designed to work like fine sandpaper to gently abrade away stains.
- Moisten your sponge—this makes it work more effectively.
- Carefully scrub the remaining ink stains, rotating the drum to make sure you get all of them.
- Wipe down the drum with a clean, damp cloth after you’ve finished.
Step 4: Check to ensure the ink is gone
Although the interior of your dryer may look perfectly clean, you’ll need to be sure before you put more laundry in there. You don’t want to end up ruining perfectly good clothes, after all! To ensure the ink is gone, follow these steps:
- Turn your dryer back on.
- Take an old, light-colored towel. It should be something that you don’t mind getting stained, just in case there is some residual ink left inside the dryer.
- Dampen the towel—either run it under the faucet until it’s damp but not soaking, or spritz it with a spray bottle.
- Place the old towel into your dryer and run a cycle for at least half an hour.
- After the cycle is finished, remove the towel and carefully inspect it for ink stains.
If you do find ink stains, it means that there is still some ink remaining. Repeat this process until the towel comes out completely ink free!
Natural ink removal alternatives
If you prefer to only use natural products on your laundry, there are some alternative methods for stain removal you can try. The most effective is to use white vinegar on the stains. Follow the method below.
- Unplug your dryer.
- Fill a bottle with a mixture of half white vinegar and half water. Spray it on the interior of the dryer, then use a rag to wipe away the ink.
- Repeat this process until you have removed any visible ink.
- If there are stubborn spots, make a paste with salt and water and use this to scrub off the stains.
- Wipe down the interior of the dryer with a clean, damp cloth.
- Run a test cycle with an old, light-colored towel to ensure that the ink stains are gone. If there are signs of staining, repeat the process until it is perfectly clean.
If nothing else works
If you’ve tried all the above tips and you still have ink in your dryer, you can try wiping down the ink stains with a bleach and water solution. This should be a last resort, as bleach can easily stain your clothes and it can be hard to ensure it’s gone from the machine.
First, dip a cloth or rag in a mixture of one part bleach to four parts water. Wipe down the interior of the machine and let the mixture sit for ten minutes. Then, thoroughly wipe the interior with a dry cloth. Finally, run the machine with an old towel for at least an hour to ensure all the bleach residue is gone.
Remember, the best method by far is prevention! Try putting a sign up in your laundry area, reminding yourself to check all the pockets before washing your clothes—you’ll thank yourself later!