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5 Ways to Remove Permanent Marker Stains From Clothes


The fact that your clothing has been discolored with a permanent marker does not imply it should be discarded. Permanent marker stains are difficult to remove, but they are not permanent. You just need to know the suitable solvents to remove the stain and how to use them effectively.

These solvents include hairspray, alcohol, hand sanitizers, and white vinegar; however, to keep you from using them improperly, we’ve put together this article to show you the most effective way to remove permanent marker stains using the aforementioned solvents. Continue reading to find out!

Possible Causes of Permanent Marker Stains on Clothes

Everyone enjoys the fun and creative weekend out with the kids, drawing, coloring, painting, and creating beautiful funky pictures. And permanent markers are often essentials for any kid’s art box as they make for more vibrant and long-lasting colors.

The only downside of this experience is the inevitable sullying of the clothes worn, the kid’s, and most probably even yours by permanent markers.

Also, permanent markers are good tools for labeling things at home, office, and place of work. So sometimes, a kid does not have to be involved for one to run into the challenge of figuring out how to get rid of those exasperating stains. It can happen accidentally, and you’re left to decide whether to discard or salvage that beautiful dress.

Why are Stains from Permanent Markers So Difficult to Remove?

Unlike other ballpoint and felt-tip pens that use water-based inks, permanent markers often use inks that are oil-based or alcohol-based. And this is the specific factor responsible for the difficulty in cleaning up their stains from any surface, including clothing materials.

This is because the oil and alcohol carriers in permanent markers are water resistant; hence, the bond formed between the carrier and the clothing cannot be broken by water.

So the hack is to use agents that can break down the oils and alcohols in the ink, allowing you to treat the discoloration by washing just like you would any other stain. As you will soon discover, alcohol is an excellent solvent for breaking down oil and other alcohol bonds.

5 Methods to Effectively Remove Permanent Marker Stains On Clothes

Fortunately, many everyday household items can be used to treat and get rid of the stains from permanent markers successfully. Below are some of the best methods to do so.


Hairsprays are the most common item in almost every household that is suitable for removing ink and permanent markers from clothes. However, many of the most recent brands are ineffective due to the industry trend of reducing the alcohol volume in hair sprays.

Since alcohol is what actually gets the job done here, the higher the alcohol content of the hair spray, the better. Hence, you should avoid using hair sprays labeled ‘alcohol-free’ to clean permanent marker stains.

The steps below show you how to use hair sprays to eliminate permanent marker stains.

  • Place the clothing on a flat, hard surface and place a clean cloth or towel under the stained area. This will aid in the absorption of the treatment measures and any ink that may be released.
  • Soak a piece of cotton wool in hairspray and press it firmly against the stained spot on the affected cloth.
  • If it works, the stain should transfer from the clothing to the soaked cotton wool.
  • Repeatedly dab the stain with the cotton wool changing it when it gets too dirty until the stain is completely removed.
  • You can then wash the cloth like any other piece of material you have.
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It is important to note that hairsprays should not be used on wool and leather fabrics as alcohol can damage the material’s surface.

Hand Sanitizer

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Hand sanitizer, like hairspray, is an effective ink stain remover due to its high alcohol content. You will likely have it somewhere in your home or maybe even carry one around with you, especially since the 2020 pandemic had every household owning bottles of hand sanitizers. They make for an easily accessible remedy for any permanent marker mishap.

Moreover, because hand sanitizers are made for your skin, it is often a milder alternative than other alcohol-based options. This makes it suitable for more delicate ultra-sensitive fabrics. Below is how to use hand sanitizer to handle ink stains on clothing

  • Apply the hand sanitizer in quantity approximately to a coin size to the affected spot.
  • Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Smear the gel in a circular motion with a brush or a piece of cloth.
  • Then wipe with a clean towel and repeat as many times as it takes to get the stain out.
  • Then you can rinse the cloth with clean water and wash it according to the recommended method.

Rubbing Alcohol

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Regular plain alcohol can also work wonders when getting rid of those permanent marker blemishes. This is because it is a superb degreaser, capable of breaking down oily stains better than many other cleaning agents.

Rubbing alcohol is a solution of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and 30 percent water or a highly concentrated solution of ethyl.

A very common form of rubbing alcohol is methylated spirits, which are readily available in almost every first-aid box and can be easily bought at any local pharmacy. Stick to the following steps to use alcohol to blot out permanent marker stains

  • Place the stain flat on the ground on top of some paper towels.
  • Dip a cloth or sponge in the rubbing alcohol and dab around the stain first.
  • Then apply the sponge directly to the stain. You should notice the ink transferring to the paper towel underneath the stain.
  • Change the paper towel frequently to allow the paper to absorb the color.
  • After removing the stain, rinse thoroughly and wash the clothing as directed on the tag.

White Vinegar

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White vinegar, also known as spirit vinegar, is one of the most effective natural stain removers that can be found in practically every home.

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It is a milder approach for textiles that cannot tolerate alcohol, such as leather and wool. The acetic acid in vinegar is weak, so it removes stains without damaging your fabric.

There are two major ways to use white vinegar to remove permanent marker stains. You can do a pre-treatment by soaking the affected clothing in a vinegar solution for as long as necessary or applying the vinegar directly to the affected spot.

Stain-treating pastes can also be made from spirit vinegar by adding baking soda to a mixture of water and vinegar. Vinegar can be used to treat permanent marker stains with the following steps.

  • Wet a cotton ball or cloth with white vinegar
  • Dab the stain with the wet cotton ball and wait a few minutes.
  • Clean the area repeatedly with the cotton, changing it as required until the stain is gone.
  • Then wash the garment according to the instructions on the tag.

You can also add vinegar to the wash to give the clothes cleaner and brighter colors. It also helps eliminate the mildew smell on clothes.


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Unlike other stain removers, Amodex is a soap, not a solvent, so it can sit on the affected spot for as long as possible without damaging the material. It is a versatile cleaner that removes stubborn grease stains like chocolate, sauce, makeup, and even permanent markers.

Amodex is safe and effective for diverse fabric types, including silk, nylon, and rayon, and it works best on fresh on treated stains. It is also effective for treating weeks-long stains, provided nothing else has been applied to the stain.

The Amodex is so good it is recommended by major ink manufacturers like PaperMate®, Newell Rubbermaid®, Sharpie® Montblanc®, and others.

The guidelines for using Amodex are as follows

  • Do not wet the stained area on the cloth before applying Amodex.
  • Place a paper towel under the stain to absorb the ink and avoid a transfer.
  • Ensure to shake the bottle of Amodex very well before use.
  • Apply the Amodex to the stain spot.
  • Allow enough time for the product to settle into the fabric.
  • Use a stiff brush or your fingernail to massage it in thoroughly. Do this continuously until the stain is almost imperceptible.
  • Then rinse and launder the clothes appropriately.

Other Tips for Dealing With Permanent Marker Stains

Below are other practices that you should be aware of and adopt to make your stain removal process a piece of cake and ensure the desired result

  1. Regardless of the method you choose to employ to treat your permanent marker stains, the earlier you treat it, the better the chance of an absolutely clean and easier.
  2. Test the solvent on a small inconspicuous area of the clothing to confirm it doesn’t damage the fabric or its coloration. Some materials are ultrasensitive and should be treated with care.
  3. Try not to wipe or scrape the stain, as this may cause the ink to spread and soak deeper into the fabric; instead, dab lightly.
  4. Avoid using alcohol or alcohol-containing solvents and solutions for treating stains on wool, silk, rayon, and acetate fabrics.
  5. Ensure to wash stained clothes separately from other clothes to prevent any sort of ink transfer.o
  6. Only put the garment in the dryer if you notice after washing that the stain is completely gone.

How to Prevent Marker Stains From Getting On Your Clothes

Yes, you have gotten the solution to fixing the permanent marker stains on your favorite shirt but wouldn’t it be great if there were never any stains and you didn’t need to stress too much?

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We bet that it would be. So, in the following section, we will share better ways to prevent permanent marker stains from getting on your clothes.

Keep Permanent Markers Away from Children

If you have children or have ever been near children, you would know that they are a big ball of energy and are most times very big on trying new things, especially if these things include colorful markers sitting pretty on a table, chair, or their favorite corner in the house.

The children can decide one day to pick up the colorful markers and create designs of their own, and your shirt could be redesigned in their quest to try fun stuff out.

So, rather than leave permanent markers anywhere, be strategic with them by keeping them in a safe corner that says “out of reach, kids are not allowed here”.

Always Keep the Cover of the Permanent Marker Locked

Imagine working on your work table, and as soon as you get up and stretch to collect something, you immediately know that the marker you left open has done its work by staining your shirt or dress. Now, if the marker were properly covered, there would be no stains on your clothing at all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Baking Soda Get Rid of Permanent Marker Stains from Clothes?

As a common household ingredient, baking soda can remove permanent marker stains from clothes. All that’s required of you is to pour a small amount of baking soda, and the spot immediately after the staining and allow it to sit for some minutes before scrubbing the stain out.

Do Permanent Marker Stains Fade Over Time?

Yes, with regular washing, permanent marker stains fade away over time. White vinegar, hand sanitizers, and alcohol are all faster ways to eliminate permanent marker stains.

Are Sharpie and Permanent Markers the Same?

No, sharpie and permanent markers are not the same. Sharpie is a brand of markers that are mainly permanent types, while permanent markers are markers whose strokes are permanent.

Final Words

Fortunately for all of us who happen to spend time around Permanent markers, taking a stain does not have to be an automatic ticket to the garbage chute for your dress.

Permanent markers can be eliminated with the proper means. Plus, most of the methods are readily available household items, so you may not have to spend any extra cost to purchase new cleaning agents.

Whatever method you choose to use in removing your permanent marker stains, remember it is best to treat them promptly and carefully.

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