How to remove permanent marker stains from clothing and other fabrics

Permanent markers are quite useful when it comes to labeling boxes, marking objects or even tie dyeing clothes. You can always rely on the markers, they will provide you with permanent, durable colour. However, permanent markers may get on places we did not really plan on. Keep in mind that they may get literally everywhere if you are not careful.

Usually, when you stain a shirt with a permanent marker you throw it away. We would like to put an end to this. As impossible as it seems there are ways in which you can treat your stained garments and rid them of those terrible stains. In this article we will share some of the best methods you can use to remove permanent ink stains. Even if you don’t manage to completely remove them, you can find tips on how to hide them at the bottom of this page.

It is, in fact, not so hard to get rid of permanent marker stains from fabrics. It is important, however, to catch the stain while it is still fresh. In order to do that efficiently, you will need to take a few steps. First, you will have to apply a solution that will break down the alcohol and oil in the ink. That is the pre-treatment and if the stain you are dealing with is very tiny you can skip it (always consider that step because it will help with removing the stain).
Some important things to pay extra attention to are:
Use a heavy-duty detergent, or another strong product. Make sure it has enzymes
Always wash the garments with cool water. ( use the coldest cycle for your washing machine
Use oxy bleach and a normal washing machine cycle in order to properly clean the clothing

N.B. Always check the care label, especially when you are hesitating on what to do when cleaning stained fabric. If there are any specific instructions, make sure to follow them. That way you will avoid damage to your clothes.

We will share some of the most common and efficient treatments for permanent marker stains.

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • This is one of the best, most efficient and easiest methods for cleaning clothes. Always test on a hidden seam. Rubbing alcohol will break up the alcohol and oils that make the stain stick. Treat the clothing with alcohol, then wash it in your washing machine.
    Place some paper towels underneath the clothing, That will prevent ink from spreading and bleeding everywhere.
    Get a clean cloth or a sponge and pour a generous amount of alcohol on it. You can also use a cotton ball but make sure to replace it as soon as it soaks up enough ink.
    Start from the outside of the stain and work towards the center. Use dabbing motions and take it slow. You will immediately be able to see ink transferring to the cloth.
    When you remove most of it, place the garment in the washing machine and run a cycle with your usual detergent.

  • Hairspray
  • This is an old school method that might actually not work today. The reason for that is that in the past, hairspray used to contain a lot of alcohol. Nowadays, that is not the case. Always check the ingredients before using this method. If your hairspray does indeed contain a lot of alcohol, use it and you will achieve great results. The good thing about using hairspray is that you can also clean polyester and other synthetic fabrics that usually hold the stain really well.
    Again, put a protective layer under the garment you will be cleaning. You will protect the rest of the clothing from getting stained.
    Apply hairspray thoroughly. Make sure you soak the area of the stain. Let it sit for 10 minutes or more (depending on the stain).
    Rinse the wet spot under running water. If the stain does not go away, repeat the whole process until you manage to remove it.
    When there is no more ink residue and stains, wash your garment in the washing machine.

  • Milk
  • Yes, you heard right. Milk is not only for your coffee, it is quite powerful when it comes to removing ink stains from clothing as well. Place the garment in question in a bowl. Pour milk on top of it until the whole stained area is covered. Let it sit overnight. If the stain is still there, replace the milk with fresh one and leave it once more.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • The way in which hydrogen peroxide works is very similar to the way that bleach works. It will make the stain colourless, rather than remove it. It is particularly good for permanent ink stains. The reason behind that is that hydrogen peroxide has the ability to break up the bonds between dye particles and solvents. This will end up making the stain colourless.
    Place a protective layer behind your clothing. That will prevent the stain from soaking into other areas of the garment.
    Soak a clean cloth with hydrogen peroxide and start wiping the stain from the outside towards the center. Repeat this until the stain disappears.
    Let the peroxide soak in for 10-15 minutes, then rinse the garment. If there is no ink residue left, put it in your washing machine. Otherwise, repeat the process or leave the hydrogen peroxide on for longer.

In case you got permanent ink on your skin, alcohol will be the solution you want. If it’s an especially stubborn stain, use some elbow grease in order to remove it completely. If you accidentally stained your leather couch or handbag with permanent ink, use distilled white vinegar and dab the area gently until the stain is gone. If your worst nightmare came true and you got some permanent ink on your carpet, use milk and cornstarch to form a paste. Apply to the stained carpeted area and let it sit for several hours. When dry, brush it away and vacuum. Wipe away with a cloth soaked in alcohol in order to completely remove all ink.