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Is Printer Ink Toxic? Guide to Skin Contact, Ingested Ink

If you’re refilling your printer cartridge and some ink gets spilled, should you be worried? Is printer ink toxic? What about printer ink on skin? And what if someone eats printer ink?

Most printer ink isn’t toxic to the touch. Especially with the limited amount of ink that might get on your skin during refilling. If printer ink is ingested, please contact your medical professional. Have someone take a photo of the packaging or printer to help your doctor determine toxicity and treatment, if necessary.

Is Printer Ink Toxic

This guide is about liquid ink, used in home and office computer printers. This isn’t about printer toner, used in laser printers.

Is Printer Ink Poisonous?

Ink is considered “minimally toxic and in such a small quantity that it’s commonly not a poisoning concern,” according to Healthline.

And a site operated by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, notes that ink is “generally considered nonpoisonous.”

Is Printer Ink Toxic on Skin?

According to Healthline, “ink poisoning doesn’t occur from drawing on your skin. Ink may temporarily stain your skin, but it will not poison you.”

Many government resources, addressing the non-toxic nature of most ink, refer to the safety of tattoo ink. It is considered by the FDA to be a cosmetic product. And as with any product, there is the potential for allergic reaction.

What’s in Printer Ink?

Most printer ink is composed of water, ethylene glycol, and alcohol. It contains similar ingredients to household dish soap.

Writing ink is a blend of:

  • Dyes
  • Pigments
  • Solvents
  • Water

It is generally considered nonpoisonous.


According to Mount Sinai, exposure to ink requires a call to your local emergency number (like 911) or the local poison control center for an assessment of your specific situation.

So while it’s not considered toxic, especially in small quantities, you’ll probably want to keep it off your hands. Here’s how to get printer ink off your skin.

Ink Poisoning from Printer Ink

Here’s how to remove printer ink from paper.

What Happens if You Drink Ink?

What if someone eats or swallows printer ink? Symptoms from ingested ink include the obvious stained mouth, tongue, and lips. And while unlikely, some mild stomach upset is possible.

According to MedlinePlus, “large amounts of writing ink must be consumed (more than an ounce or 30 milliliters) before treatment is needed.” MedlinePlus is operated by the National Library of Medicine, under the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services.

Of course, if someone in my family ingested even a little, I would have them checked by a doctor.

It’s worth noting that not all ink is the same. If you have any concerns about your health after any exposure to printer ink, check with a medical professional.

Ink Poisoning from Printer Ink?

While ink poisoning isn’t likely from getting ink on your hands, it is possible if considerable amounts are ingested.

Because of the amount of ink in printer cartridges and stamp pads, seek medical attention if the ink from one of these sources has been consumed.

It should be easy to determine if a child or pet has consumed printer ink. You’ll probably notice stained lips, mouth, tongue, and face. And it will likely be on their hands or paws. If you are uncertain what, how much, or even if printer ink has been eaten, please contact a doctor.

Printer ink stains pretty well – that’s what it is designed to do. Here’s how to remove printer ink from your carpet.

is printer ink poisonous
Fingers covered in black printer ink

Learn more about printer ink.

Here’s how to check ink levels and change ink in a Canon printer.

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