GE15: The best (and the worst) ways to remove indelible ink

Tried and tested


By Redzhanna Jazmin

GE15: The best (and the worst) ways to remove indelible ink

Good job voting! Now… what to do about the indelible ink? It was a badge of honour in the moment, but having an ink splodge on your finger for the foreseeable future isn’t ideal, is it?

If you’re struggling to delible-ise the indelible, you’re not alone. Lucky for you, we’re here to share Team BURO’s best tried-and-tested tips for de-staining your finger.

Ahead, find out what indelible ink is actually made of and five methods that will remove it without ruining your skin (plus one effective way that is almost guaranteed to ruin your skin):



Indelible ink is semi-permanent ink that is applied to the fingers of voters during elections to stain their skin. It is used as a precaution against voter fraud.

It is typically made up of silver nitrate, a pigment that stains the skin when exposed to UV light, and is suspended in solvents like certain alcohols and water.

When applied to the skin, it is meant to last up to a few days, but some have reported the ink lasting weeks.



Method 1: Nail polish remover

how to remove indelible ink

Hey, if it’s good enough for glitter nail polish and Sharpie stains, it’s good enough for your finger, eh? The best course of action is to treat the ink as you would a gel manicure.

That is, soak a cotton pad in acetone, wrap it around your finger, cover it with aluminium foil or plastic wrap and leave it to work its magic for 10 minutes. Then, repeat as necessary.

NOTE: The key ingredient here is acetone, so avoid acetone-free formulations. Also, don’t forget to moisturise after—acetone is tough on the skin!

Effectiveness: 4/5, depending on who you ask (works especially well on nails!)


Method 2: Rubbing alcohol

how to remove indelible ink

Indelible inks tend to use alcohol as a solvent for quick-drying purposes. As such, rubbing alcohol may help to dissolve the ink and fade it from your skin. Just apply it on a cloth and work into the area until it has faded.

NOTE: Rubbing alcohol can destroy your skin, especially when rubbed in vigorously. So, if you’re following this hack, do make sure to follow up with a healthy dose of hand cream!

Effectiveness: 2/5 (works great on skin!)


Method 3: Dishwashing detergent

how to remove indelible ink
Image: Blueland

While this method has varying success rates, depending on who is trying it out, it seemed to work well enough across the board to make it into this list.

All you need to do is apply a few drops of soap onto your finger, work it into the ink-stained area with a cloth or sponge, and rinse away. If initially unsuccessful, repeat a few more times until the ink fades or you give up.

Effectiveness: 2/5


Method 4: Hair removal cream

how to remove indelible ink

Certainly an unexpected option, hair removal cream actually proved to be the most effective removal method—at least according to Team BURO.

All you have to do is leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.

Effectiveness: 5/5


Method 5: Exfoliating scrubs

how to remove indelible ink

If the indelible ink has stained your hands beyond the capability of any home remedies, you may just have to wait until your skin renews itself naturally to rid the dye.

That said, you can speed up the process by using a physical exfoliant on your hands. Not only will this help to speed up the fading process, but it’ll leave your hands baby soft, too! Our pick for the task? Aesop’s Reverence Aromatique Hand Wash, of course.

Effectiveness: 1/5 (but is a really good gradual last resort)


Method 5 (not recommended): Bleach wash or wipes

how to remove indelible ink
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

We would advise against this method, but if you really must resort to bleach, 1) make sure it’s diluted before applying it to your skin and 2) rinse it off thoroughly. We can guarantee that you’d rather have your finger intact and inky rather than raw, bloodied and sore.

Effectiveness: 5/5 (but at what cost?)



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