Thursday, June 12, 2014

Disaster averted with hairspray

You will recall my dilemma - somewhere along the way my Mom switched from her Frixion pen to a ballpoint pen to mark her blocks so I needed to find a way to removed the ink from her blocks.

I tried a number of products such as OxiClean, Grandma's Secret Spot Remover and hydrogen peroxide.

They worked to varying degrees. All required some scrubbing to lift the stain and this raised a slight nap on the fabric. Grandma's Secret Stain Remover has a mild bleach effect so it actually lightened the treated area. My next step was to go out and buy a can of hairspray to give it a go (a natural beauty like me doesn't have that kind of beauty product on hand).

I've used hairspray to successfully remove oil marks from clothing by spraying the affected area generously and letting it dry. I would give it one more spray just before I threw it in the laundry and the oil mark generally comes out. So armed with my previous laundry experience and a fresh can of hairspray I was ready to begin the testing!

Test #1
Method:  I sprayed a pen mark generously with hairspray and gave the area a gentle massage with the ball of my finger to make sure that the fibres were well saturated. I let it sit for 20 minutes. At this point I noticed that the ink had broken down and bled so I gave the area another spray and a rub and then rinsed it in cool, running water.
Result:  It was better than before but still not very good and I had wider area with a pale bluish tint.

Test #2
Method: I sprayed a pen mark generously with hairspray and gave the area a gentle massage with the ball of my finger until I saw the ink loosen  and the hairspray was getting a pale blue tinge to it. I added a little more spray to the area to keep the ink loose and I massaged a few more seconds. Next I rinsed the area with cool, running water.
Result: Success! The mark virtually disappeared! This is the method I will use to remove the remaining ink marks. In the following two pictures you can see the results of Test #2. The first is the before picture and the second is the after picture.



I have some blocks that were previously treated with Granny's Secret Spot Remover or OxiClean or hydrogen peroxide. These products lightened the marks but did not remove them entirely and some of them actually faded the fabric. I decided to conduct the hairspray test on previously treated blocks.

Test #3:
Method: I used method described in Test #2 to retreat the blocks.
Result: Multiple treatments with hairspray appear to remove most of the marks without fading the fabric.

Previously treated corner - you can see a peacock blue diagonal line

After a second treatment, this time with hairspray the diagonal line is almost gone

So there you have it! Hairspray worked like a treat!

Tomorrow I'll publish Block 5 in my Value Proposition Quilt Along. I can't believe how fast this is going. I've been following your progress on the Flickr Value Proposition QAL page and on your blogs and am thrilled at what I am seeing! I hope you'll like the next block. It is one of my favourites!

Lastly Kelly from at IHaveANotion loved my hexagon fob pincushion tutorial and has asked for permission to share my picture and blog about it on her blog. Of course I said yes! She has already posted a link on her blog under the header "Great Tutorials and Freebies". If you are looking for a project why not have a look and see what is on offer? I think it is great when we share links to each others blogs. It is a great way to meet bloggers we might not otherwise have discovered!

Until I post again, happy sewing!
Karen H


  1. awesome about the hairspray-I will need to remember that, and thanks for the link-lots of fun projects on that list-especially yours-hugs

  2. I've often used hairspray to get ink out of clothing but didn't know it worked on oil. Good to know!

  3. Another thing that works is the hand sanitizer (which is mostly alcohol). I've had a lot of luck getting out sharpie ink with it.

  4. Again learned I something new! Thank you for this informations about the hairspray.
    Your GG looks so great.
    Have a nice Day!

  5. well thankyou for the very useful tip. I hope I will remember this one :-o

  6. Sorry Karen...i missed a chapter in your last post!!!! I made the same mistake as your mother one day ! ! ! ! Unfortunately i didn't know that hairspray was a miraculous product... Thanks a lot the the tip

  7. Great tip with hairspray - I've never heard that one and thanks for doing all the research:)

  8. So glad you persevered and was able to rescue the blocks!

    The reason it worked was the alcohol in the hairspray acted as a solvent. Works great on most ink stains. It can also work on grease as it breaks it down, although I've found original blue dawn to work best on grease.

    I keep hydrogen peroxide, blue Dawn, and alcohol in my laundry
    cupboard for just such emergencies. I call it my first aid kit for fabrics!

    Hydrogen peroxide works on protein stains like blood and grass. Blue Dawn for grease based stains. And rubbing alcohol for inks, dyes and lacquer based stains.

  9. Thanks for this tip Karen, and thanks to one of your readers who explained why it works :) I think I shall move my hairspray from the bathroom to the laundry room now!

  10. Like you, I'm a natural beauty and don't require hairspray. Of course, in my case I'm kidding. That's a great tip and a reason to buy hairspray. Did you use a particular kind?