Many pen ink stains are not permanent if treated or laundered properly. Water-based ink stains are the easiest to remove. Ballpoint-ink stains are more difficult to remove, and permanent-ink stains are the most difficult to remove, according to About.com.
Success in removal of ink stains often depends on what type of fabric is stained as well as the type of ink. It is best to dry clean non-washable items. Dabbing ballpoint pen ink with a white cloth and a methylated-based solution or alcohol often transfers the stain. Nail polish remover or WD-40 sometimes lightens permanent ink. Soap and water normally washes away water-based ink, according to Kidspot.