Dry erase markers are incredibly useful for writing on whiteboards, but they can also easily stain clothing if accidentally used on fabric. Removing dry erase marker stains doesn’t have to be difficult though. With the right techniques and products, you can get dry erase marker out of clothes and save your favorite shirt or pair of pants.
This complete guide will provide step-by-step instructions for removing dry erase marker from clothing using common household products. We’ll also include tips on how to prevent stains and what to do if the marker has dried.
What You’ll Need
Before starting to remove dry erase marker stains, gather the following supplies:
- Hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol: The alcohol in hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol breaks down the ink and lifts it from the fabric. This is the most effective product for fresh stains.
- Hairspray: The alcohol in hairspray also helps dissolve dry erase marker ink. It works on both fresh and dried stains.
- Baking soda: For more stubborn stains, baking soda can help lift the ink from fabric by absorbing it.
- White vinegar: Helpful for removing any baking soda residue left behind. Also works as a fabric brightener.
- Dish soap: Dawn or other grease-cutting dish soaps help lift stains by breaking down oils.
- Old toothbrush: Useful for gently scrubbing the stain.
- Paper towels or clean cloths: For blotting and dabbing the stain.
- Washing machine: For laundering the clothes after pre-treating the stain.
Follow these steps to remove dry erase marker stains from clothing:
1. Identify Stain and Fabric Type
- Locate the stained area on the clothing.
- Check if the marker stain is fresh or if it has dried.
- Identify the type of fabric stained – some more delicate fabrics require a gentler approach.
2. Blot Fresh Stains
- For fresh stains that haven’t dried yet, blot gently with a paper towel or cloth. Don’t rub, as this may push the ink deeper into the fabric.
- Try to lift as much wet ink as possible immediately. This helps prevent the stain from setting.
3. Apply Hand Sanitizer or Rubbing Alcohol
- For fresh stains on cotton, polyester or other washable fabrics, apply a small amount of hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol directly to the stain.
- Let it sit for 1-2 minutes to penetrate the fibers and break down the ink.
4. Scrub the Stain
- Once the alcohol has sat, use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the stain. This helps lift the dissolving ink.
- Scrub from the backside first so ink doesn’t spread. Rinse the toothbrush frequently.
- Scrub gently in circles, working the product into the stain. Don’t scrub aggressively.
5. Rinse the Area
- After scrubbing, rinse the fabric under running water. For delicate fabrics, blot with a damp cloth instead.
- Check to see if the stain has lifted. Repeat steps 3-5 if needed for stubborn stains.
6. Treat with Hairspray
- For dried or stubborn stains, apply hairspray liberally to the area. Make sure to thoroughly coat the stain.
- Let the hairspray sit for 2-3 minutes before scrubbing with a toothbrush.
- The hairspray helps dissolve the ink, allowing you to scrub it out of the fabric more easily.
7. Use Baking Soda Paste
- For really stubborn dried stains, make a paste with baking soda and water. Apply it to the stain.
- Let it sit for 5 minutes before scrubbing and rinsing. The baking soda will help draw out the ink.
8. Wash Normally
- Once the stain is gone, launder the clothing as usual. Use detergent and oxyclean if desired.
- Avoid drying until you’ve checked that the stain is fully removed. The heat can set any remaining ink.
- You may need to repeat steps 3-7 again after washing if any hint of the stain remains.
Tips for Avoiding Stains
Preventing clothing stains from dry erase markers is easier than removing them. Keep these tips in mind:
- Store markers capped tightly when not in use. A loose cap is prone to marks and leaks.
- Keep markers away from clothing, bags, and other fabrics. Don’t place them in pockets.
- Check that marker caps are secure before packing them in a bag. Clip them to a notebook instead.
- Ensure markers aren’t accessible to young children who may use them on clothes. Monitor use.
- Don’t gesture with an uncapped marker in hand – ink can flick off the tip.
- Wear an oversized long sleeve shirt or apron when writing heavily on a whiteboard to protect clothes.
What to Do for Dried Stains
If you notice a dry erase marker stain that has already dried:
- Act quickly if possible – the longer it sets the harder it’ll be to remove.
- Try hairspray first to re-wet the ink so it can be lifted.
- Make a paste with baking soda and water and let it sit on the stain for 5+ minutes.
- Check care labels and test products first on hidden areas of delicate fabrics.
- Wash and thoroughly rinse after pre-treating to remove any residual ink or cleaning solution.
- Avoid drying until the stain has lifted – heat can permanently set in dried ink.
- Repeat the process as needed if the stain persists after washing.
Can Dry Erase Marker Be Removed from All Fabrics?
Dry erase marker can be removed from cotton, polyester, denim, linen, and most other washable fabrics using the techniques above. However, take care with:
- Silk – Avoid scrubbing. Gently dab and blot instead.
- Wool – Test ink removers first. Wool can be damaged by rubbing alcohol or hairspray.
- Leather – Ink likely won’t come out fully. Try baby wipes first. Avoid hairspray or alcohol.
- Suede – Ink is nearly impossible to remove from suede without damaging the nap.
- Rayon – Blot gently and wash. Don’t scrub vigorously, as rayon is delicate.
If in doubt, first test any product on an inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it doesn’t cause damage or discoloration.
Dry Erase Marker Stain Removal Summary
To recap, follow these general guidelines when removing dry erase marker from clothes:
- Identify fabric type and whether stain is fresh or dried.
- Blot fresh stains immediately with paper towel or cloth.
- Apply hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol and let penetrate 1-2 minutes.
- Gently scrub stain with toothbrush, rinse, repeat as needed.
- Use hairspray on dried stains before scrubbing.
- Make a baking soda paste for really stubborn stains.
- Wash normally after stain removed. Avoid drying until it’s gone.
- Take care with delicate fabrics like wool, silk and suede.
- Act quickly for best results and prevent permanent setting.
Following these steps, you can get dry erase marker out of most fabrics. Just remember to work gently and cautiously on delicate materials. With some persistence, your clothes can look good as new again.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What household items can remove dry erase marker?
Some common household products effective at removing dry erase marker stains include rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, hairspray, baking soda, white vinegar, and dish soap. Using a mix of these along with warm water can help lift dry erase marker from fabric.
2. Does toothpaste work to remove dry erase marker?
Toothpaste is abrasive, so it can damage and discolor some fabric types. It’s safer to use rubbing alcohol, hairspray or baking soda instead of toothpaste when trying to remove dry erase marker. Toothpaste may work for very stubborn stains on whiteboards.
3. How do you get dried dry erase marker out of clothes?
For dried ink stains, re-wet the area with hairspray first. Let the hairspray sit for 2-3 minutes. Make a paste of baking soda and water and apply to the stain for 5 minutes before scrubbing. Scrub gently with a toothbrush and rinse. Repeat as needed until the ink lifts.
4. How do you get permanent marker out vs dry erase marker?
Permanent marker is harder to remove because it contains solvents that bind to fabric. Use rubbing alcohol or hairspray to try loosening it. Nail polish remover with acetone also helps break down permanent marker. Then scrub and rinse. Repeat this process multiple times for best results.
5. Should you wash clothes before or after removing dry erase marker stains?
It’s best to pre-treat and remove as much of the stain as possible before washing clothing. Washing can set in any remaining ink. Check that the stain has lifted after pre-treating. If any ink remains, repeat the process before putting the item in the wash.
6. Is dry erase marker bad for clothes?
Dry erase ink won’t damage or discolor fabric if removed promptly. However, leaving the stain for an extended time allows the ink to bind to the fibers. The longer it sets, the harder it’ll be to remove, and it may leave a ghost stain even after washing. Act quickly when dry erase marker gets on clothing.