In this work, we found that lignosulfonic acid (LS), which is a waste byproduct from the paper industry, in ionic liquids (ILs) can catalyze the dehydration of fructose and inulin into 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) efficiently, which is a promising potential substitute for petroleum-based building blocks. The effects of reaction time, temperature, catalyst loading, and reusability of the catalytic system were studied. It was found that a 94.3 % yield of HMF could be achieved in only 10 min at 100 °C under mild conditions. The reusability study of the LS–IL catalytic system after removal of HMF by ethyl acetate extraction demonstrated that the catalytic activity decreased from 77.4 to 62.9 % after five cycles and the catalytic activity could be recovered after simply removing the accumulated humins by filtration after adding ethanol to the LS–ILs. The integrated utilization of a biorenewable feedstock, catalyst, and ILs is an example of an ideal green chemical process.