Despite what you might read, there is no perfect way to remove all the ink from a sheet of paper. But there are some workarounds that might be what you need.
Here’s how to remove printer ink from paper: Use a cotton ball with alcohol to dab off fresh ink. Or (the best method) you can use correction tape or liquid whiteout. Acetone will release printer toner. And some recommend gently scraping the paper to remove the top level of the paper and ink.
First, you’ll want to determine if you own an inkjet or laser printer. The ink from an inkjet will need a different approach than toner from a laser printer.
This guide is in two sections. First, I’ll cover how to remove inkjet ink from paper. Then how to remove powered toner from a laser-printed document.
1. How to Remove Printer Ink From Paper
There are a number of ways to remove printer ink from paper. And none of them are perfect. They are going to look amateur at best.
But depending on your needs, maybe one of these will suit your purpose.
A. Cotton Ball (Optional: Alcohol)
If you just printed a document with an inkjet printer, you can use a cotton ball to dab off fresh ink.
Make sure to use up-and-down dabbing motion – and not rubbing or scrubbing motion. Dabbing will lift the ink off, without spreading it too much.
Once it’s dried, the ink has cured. And this method will have very little success. According to Red River Paper, “it takes about 24 hours for an inkjet print to fully cure and dry.” So while your document can appear dry to the touch, you might still have success dabbing some of it off on the first day.
If your printer has a heat feature, the document will come out with cured ink. This method won’t work on paper with cured ink.
Optional: Moisten the cotton ball with a solvent like alcohol. Because most inkjet ink is alcohol (drying agent) and water (solvent) based, a little
Note: Please be careful with some of the tips on articles similar to this one. Some recommend mixing dish detergent with vinegar and water and then spraying it on the paper. This will make a soapy mess. Your paper will look like paper mache – not a professional document for presentation or mailing.
I’ve tried dabbing the ink. And it doesn’t really do much. It can lighten the ink, but there is no way you’ll salvage the piece of paper. And if you still use the paper, everyone will know you tried to modify the document.
Better option: Print a new sheet. Or use this next method.
B. Wite-Out Correction Tape (Best Option)
For a more professional look, I recommend using liquid whiteout or correction tape. While this will still be visible, it will be less noticeable than the smeary mess of dabbing off the ink.
Can you print on a document with Wite-Out? I would avoid putting a document with Wite-Out back in an inkjet printer. It has a much different texture than porous paper and I don’t think the ink will apply or cure correctly.,
C. Scrape or Sand the Paper?
You can gently scrape or sand the paper to remove the top level of the paper and ink.
So this is a tip that I’ve read about. I’m not sure why anyone would do this. For inkjet-printed documents, you would end up shredding the document before you removed the ink.
Inkjet printers use liquid ink. And it is absorbed by the paper. Using sandpaper will make your document look like a rat’s nest – one with still visible print.
And a razor blade? I can’t believe this is being recommended. It won’t work. And it’s dangerous. I’m pretty sure it’s even harder to remove blood than printer ink.
Please don’t do this.
2. How to Remove Printer Toner From Paper
Laser toner is a powder, not a liquid ink. Because it is a solid, it actually sits on top of the paper.
Acetone (like in nail polish remover) can cause the toner to release.
According to Muddy Colors “The toner that Laser Printers use will come loose from the paper it is bonded to when it comes into contact with acetone. All you have to do is saturate the back of the paper with acetone, the toner releases.”
Be aware that when you apply acetone to the back of the page, it will transfer the print to whatever is underneath.
Acetone is a messy chemical. It is highly flammable and can irritate the lungs and skin. And acetone will strip paint and adhesive.
B. Wite-Out Correction Tape (Best Option)
As with inkjet-printed documents, my recommendation is to use correction tape on your laser-printed documents.
It is clean and professional. Also, it isn’t a flammable paint stripper, like in the first method.
I can’t imagine a situation where Wite-Out isn’t a better option than soaking your document (and desk) in acetone.
Of course, you could just print a new copy.
Learn more: Is Printer Ink Toxic?
Here’s how to get printer ink out of the carpet and off your hands.
And that’s how to remove printer ink from paper, with a few workarounds. How did it go for you? I would love to hear about your experience – and it will help other readers too!
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer on PrintLikeThis. We troubleshoot printer problems to get you back to printing.
He also writes at Storyteller Tech and is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel. Bryan is co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.