9 Effective Methods to Remove Ink Stains From Dryers

Sending a pen through the wash happens to the best of us. Make sure you get all the ink out of your dryer with our proven methods.

Updated December 1, 2023
woman taking clothes out of dryer

It happens to the best of us. A pen remains in a pocket and makes its way not only through the wash, but all the way through the dryer. It's maddening to discover ink splotches all over your clothes, and it's worse when it winds up staining the inside of your dryer, too. 

So when you get ink in the dryer, you'll need to remove it ASAP because it can wreak havoc on laundry loads for a long time to come. Here's how to get ink out of the dryer so you can keep your laundry ink-free. 

Dryer Drums

When disaster strikes in the form of ink stains, all is not lost. Many people automatically trash garments that have dried ink stains on them, but you can remove ink stains from clothes, even those that are set-in by heat. The same goes for dryers. When a forgotten pen explodes in the dryer, you don't need to run out and buy a new machine. Do this instead.

Turn up the Heat

Your first method of defense against an ink stain is to run the empty dryer at its highest heat setting. The intense heat should liquefy the ink and allow you to wipe it off the dryer drum with a clean cloth.

Try Nail Polish Remover

If direct heat alone doesn't do the trick, then apply nail polish remover to the ink stains while the dryer drum is still warm. Wet a cotton pad or cloth with the liquid and rub at the stain until it comes off. When you're finished, wipe the drum out with a damp cloth to remove the remaining traces of the nail polish remover.

Use WD-40

To remove ink spots from the dryer drum, try spraying some WD-40 directly on the stains, and then wiping clean with a soft cloth.

Soak Towels in Bleach and Dry

There are a number of ways you can use bleach to remove ink stains from dryer drums. However, the easiest is to soak a couple of old towels in a mixture of bleach and water. Once the towels are saturated with the bleach mixture, wring them out a bit. You don't want them soaking wet; rather, they should be damp, yet not dripping. Place the towels in the dryer with the ink stains and let them run for about 30 minutes. Repeat if necessary.

Use Commercial Cleaners

Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is a non-toxic, environmentally safe cleaning product you can use to erase ink stains from dryer drums. Spray some of the cleaner on a sponge and wipe the ink off the drum. In addition, Goo Gone, an oil-based cleaner and solvent, which is specially formulated to safely remove gummy messes, is another product that works well to remove caked-on ink from dryers.

Apply Vegetable Shortening

If you are afraid to use chemically-laced products in your dryer, then try using vegetable shortening. Simply heat up the dryer for a few minutes and then coat the ink stains with plain vegetable shortening. Allow the shortening to soak in a bit, then wipe clean with a cotton cloth. Make sure you wipe out all of the shortening so you don't wind up with oil-splotched clothes, instead. 

Dryer Paddles

The interiors of most dryers are made from enamel — or porcelain-coated steel. Fortunately, these types of surfaces are not very porous, so ink should not permanently soak in. However, the same can't always be said for the dryer paddles, which are made of plastic. These plastic paddles are porous in nature, which means a stain can set in quicker and last longer if not treated immediately.

Try the following to get ink off the paddles. 

Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

The inexpensive sponge-like pad works wonders on ink stains. Dampen the Magic Eraser with some warm water and scrub vigorously until the ink stain is removed from the plastic paddles.

Wipe With Rubbing Alcohol

For stubborn ink that will not come off your dryer's plastic paddles, saturate a cotton rag with rubbing alcohol and wipe away the stains. Depending on the severity of the ink stain, you may have to use a bit of elbow grease when scrubbing.

Apply Bug Spray

It may sound strange, but bug spray comes in handy when you're removing ink stains from dryer paddles. Simply spray OFF! Insect Repellent directly on the ink stains and wipe away with a clean cloth. The active ingredients in the insect repellent help lift the stain so that you can wipe it off.

Prevention Is Key

The best thing you can do for your dryer is keep ink from getting into it in the first place. Empty the pockets of all garments before placing them in the washing machine or dryer. That way, ink stains in the dryer won't be an issue in the first place.

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9 Effective Methods to Remove Ink Stains From Dryers