How to Clean Ink Out of a Dryer: A Comprehensive Guide

When your favorite ink pen explodes in the laundry and you open the dryer door to find ink stains everywhere, it can be a heart-sinking moment. But don’t worry, cleaning ink out of a clothes dryer isn’t as tough as it sounds. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to ensure your dryer is ink-free and ready for the next load.

Why It’s Important to Clean Ink Stains Immediately

First things first: why the rush to remove those unsightly spots? Letting ink stains sit not only risks them becoming permanent, but they can also transfer to your next load of laundry. Imagine the horror of discovering your white shirts are now a canvas of ink splotches!

How to Clean Ink Out of a Dryer: Different Methods

Using Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Ink Stains

  1. Preparation: Unplug the dryer. Wear gloves to protect your hands and ensure proper ventilation in the room.
  2. Apply the Alcohol: Dampen a white cloth (or paper towels) with rubbing alcohol and gently dab it onto the ink stains. Avoid rubbing vigorously to prevent the ink from spreading.
    • Benefit: Rubbing alcohol, made with isopropyl alcohol, evaporates quickly and doesn’t leave residues, making it an excellent choice for quick and effective cleaning.
    • Tip: Always use a white cloth to prevent the color transfer from the cloth to the dryer.
  3. Wipe and Dry: After the stains are gone, wipe down the dryer drum with a clean, wet cloth. Allow it to air dry or run a cycle with old towels.

Using Nail Polish Remover to Clean Ink Stains

  1. Safety First: Unplug the dryer. Nail polish remover can be potent. Wear gloves, ensure adequate ventilation, and keep away from flames or sparks.
  2. Gentle Application: Dab a small amount of the nail polish remover onto a white cloth or old towel. Gently blot the stained area with the cloth.
    • Benefit: Nail polish remover can dissolve a wide range of stubborn stains, including ink, making it a handy cleaning agent.
    • Tip: Be sure to use an acetone-based nail polish remover for best results, but be aware it might discolor some surfaces. Always test a hidden spot first.
  3. Rinse and Dry: Thoroughly rinse the area with a damp cloth after cleaning to remove any residue. Let the dryer drum air dry or run a cycle with old towels.

Cleaning Ink with All-Purpose Cleaner

  1. Preparation: Unplug the dryer. 
  2. Spray the Cleaner: Spray the all-purpose cleaner directly onto the ink stain, covering it entirely. Let it sit for a few minutes, but don’t let it dry.
    • Benefit: All-purpose cleaners are versatile and can address a range of stains, making them a convenient choice for many households. 
    • Tip: Some all-purpose cleaners may have bleaching agents. It’s a good idea to test a hidden spot before applying it generously.
  3. Scrub Gently: With a soft clean cloth or sponge, scrub the stain gently in a circular motion.
  4. Rinse and Repeat: Wipe away the cleaner with a damp cloth. If the stain persists, repeat the process. After the stains are removed, dry the drum or run a cycle with old towels.

Using a Magic Eraser to Remove Ink Stains

  1. Preparation: Unplug the dryer.
  2. Wet the Eraser: Slightly dampen your Magic Eraser, or melamine foam, with water. You want it to be moist, but not dripping wet.
  3. Gently Scrub: Start scrubbing the ink-stained areas in your dryer. Remember, the Magic Eraser is abrasive, so apply gentle pressure to prevent scratching the dryer’s surface.
    • Benefit: Magic Erasers are non-toxic and don’t leave chemical residues. Plus, they can effectively remove stubborn stains.
    • Tip: For particularly stubborn stains, you can pair the Magic Eraser with a bit of rubbing alcohol. The combination can tackle even the most persistent ink marks.
  4. Rinse and Dry: After using the Magic Eraser, always wipe down the dryer drum with a clean, wet cloth to remove any remnants from the eraser. Let it air dry or run a cycle with old towels.

Additional Tips for Best Results

a fountain ink pen writing the word "ink"
  • Read the Manual: Always keep in mind that any cleaning agent might have its own set of risks and benefits. It’s crucial to read the manufacturer’s guidelines, check compatibility, and ensure the product is suitable for the task.
  • Test a Spot: It’s always a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure there’s no adverse reaction.
  • Stay Away from Harsh Chemicals: While it might be tempting to bring out bleach or heavy-duty cleaners like other sites have said, they can damage your dryer’s interior or leave unwanted residues. I do NOT recommend it.  
  • Soapy Water or White Vinegar: Soapy water, made with dish soap, can be used to clean the inside of your dryer, but it probably will only work on fresh stains. The same goes for vinegar; it can be effective in removing fresh ink stains or those that haven’t set in deeply. 
  • Heat Sets Ink: Avoid running the dryer before you’re certain all ink stains are removed. High heat can set the ink, making it even harder to clean.
  • Maintenance is Key: Regularly check pockets before throwing clothes into the wash. It’s a simple habit that can prevent ink disasters in the first place.

Is it necessary to unplug the dryer before cleaning it?

When cleaning the inside drum of a dryer, it might seem like unplugging it isn’t necessary, especially if you’re not accessing the back panel or any electrical components. However, there are a few reasons why it’s often recommended:

  1. Safety: While it’s unlikely, there’s always a small risk of the dryer being accidentally turned on while you’re cleaning, especially if its controls are easily activated. Being inside or having your hands inside the drum while it’s moving can be dangerous.
  2. Electrical Precaution: If you’re using liquid solutions, there’s a slight chance of a spill that could reach electrical components, even if they’re not directly exposed. By unplugging the dryer, you’re reducing the risk of any short-circuiting or electrical issues.
  3. Mindful Practice: Unplugging devices when not in use, especially during maintenance or cleaning, is a good habit to cultivate. It helps ensure you’re always putting safety first.

That said, if you’re just quickly wiping the drum down and there’s no chance of accidentally activating the dryer, the risk is minimal. However, for deeper cleanings, especially when using solvents or liquids, unplugging is a smart precaution.


Understanding how to clean ink out of a dryer effectively can save you time, money, and a lot of stress. With the right approach and some patience, your dryer will be as good as new in no time. Always remember: promptness and proper cleaning materials are your best allies in this battle against ink stains.

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