Whether it’s a stray pen mark on a computer-generated term paper or an error on a hand-written page, there’s nothing more frustrating than having one blemish tarnish an otherwise perfect paper. If you don’t have time to reprint or rewrite another copy, don’t panic. Here’s a quick trick to remove pen ink from paper that will leave your paper looking like new. You can also use this tip to remove ink marks from textbooks, as acetone will not damage paper fibers. Set the paper with the pen mark on top of a clean, dry paper towel.


Set the paper with the pen mark on top of a clean, dry paper towel. Dip a cotton swab in acetone. Acetone is the active solvent ingredient in nail polish remover and paint thinner and is available at hardware stores. Don't soak the cotton swab in the acetone. You only need a little bit of this strong liquid.

Process for Small Stains

Dab the pen ink that you want to remove with the cotton swab dipped in acetone. Repeat as many times as necessary with clean cotton swabs dipped in acetone until the mark has disappeared. Allow the paper to dry and dispose of the cotton swabs and the paper towel.

Removing Larger Stains

An ink stain in the wrong place may seem like a daunting problem, but try this magic remedy and you will be surprised at the results. If you need to remove a larger area of pen ink from paper, you can use an acetone wash. Pour one-quarter inch of acetone in a glass casserole pan large enough to submerge the portion of your document that needs the ink removed. Wearing rubber gloves, hold the portion of the paper that you want the pen ink removed from under the acetone for three minutes. After three minutes, remove the paper and allow it to dry. The pen ink will be removed from the paper, and the acetone will not damage the paper fibers.


Acetone will only remove ink-based pen from paper. The majority of pens are ink-based. Printer ink cannot be completely removed. If you use this technique on printer ink, the stain will dissipate, but won't go away completely. You may be able to print over the area.


Acetone is highly flammable. Make sure you have good ventilation and keep it away from flames and sparks. Acetone is also poisonous. Be sure to store acetone out of the reach of children and animals.

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