How to Get Permanent Marker Out of Clothes

Published On: Tue Jul 16 2024

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It is very annoying to try to remove permanent marker stains. They are always frustrating when one is forced to deal with them. Sometimes even a small ink blot on the shirt you love so much or a simple drawing on your jeans, becomes difficult to remove. Generally, with the right ingredients and methods, you are able to wipe out any permanent marker on your clothes. In this blog, we have listed four essential ingredients that you should consider using, which are rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, hairspray, and hand sanitizer; as well as a step by step process on how you should properly follow to effectively eliminate those awkward stains.

Understanding Permanent Marker Stains

As you might have already guessed, these markers are meant to be permanent, quite literally. These markers are composed of pigments and solvents that allow the ink to stick to the surface or writing medium and preferably not to be washed out. This makes permanent markers very suitable for writing on almost any type of surface but very hard to wipe off fabrics.

Effective Ingredients for Removing Permanent Marker Stains

Rubbing Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol more commonly referred to as rubbing alcohol is a cleaning solution. Alcohol is effective in breaking the ink resulting from high alcohol content to facilitate removal of the ink from the fabric. Rubbing alcohol is more effective as it contains properties that make it a solvent, thus the ink of the marker is dissolved and does not stick on the fabric fivers.

Applying Rubbing Alcohol

  •  Starting with the pilling side, place the garment face down on a clean towel with the stained area being on top. Then it will blot all the excess liquid and ensure it will not spread on the fabric of the dress.

  • Take a rubbing alcohol and dip a cotton ball or a piece of cloth in it but ensure that the amount is small. As if blushing this stain, and wash beginning from the outer rim towards the central part of the spot. This serves in order to avoid worsening of the situation and spreading of the stain in the house.

  • When dabbing, you will observe that the ink begins to come off from the fabric and onto the cotton ball or the cloth that you are using. Use the clean section of the cloth or another cotton ball to absorb the ink to blot the area.

  • Some rubbing alcohol may still be present in the area after the lifting of the ink, so washing the area with water will help in removing it. This helps to avoid any leftover substance to dry on the fabric, and becomes difficult to wash out.

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White Vinegar

White vinegar is an essential item found in most households because of its cleaning and disinfecting abilities. Such a product is invented to be a harmless, chemically balanced, and biodegradable cleaning agent that replaces many conventional poisonous stimulating chemicals. White vinegar containing the acetic acid is used to dissolve the ink from permanent markers due to its properties.

Applying White Vinegar

  • Dip a cloth or a cotton pad in some white vinegar. The cloth should be wet but not soaked.

  • You only need to dab the stained area using the cloth soaked with vinegar. Do not rub since this will spread the ink further into the clothes.

  • Let the vinegar stay on the stained area for about 5 minutes. This allows the acetic acid to dissolve the particles of ink completely.

  • Wipe the area with a clean cloth and use another cloth if the initial one becomes dirty before the stain is fully wiped off.

  • Next, wash the cloth according to the directions provided on the cloth’s label.


Hairspray is both a spray that is used when taking care of hair but it can also be found in many households as a stain remover. Alcohol content is the secret because it will be needed to dissolve ink from permanent markers as the process requires. An analysis of the ingredients list for Hairspray reveals that the product contains one ingredient which is a capable solvent, alcohol. Applying it to a stain that is made with a permanent marker, the alcohol works in dissolving the ink and making it easier to wash from the fabric.

Applying Hairspray

  •  Place the garment with the stained area facing downwards on a flat surface on top of a dry towel to absorb any dripping.

  • Let it set, if you mean the hairspray, to the stained area, for roughly a minute or so. This allows the alcohol present in the hairspray to work through dissolving the ink.

  • To clean the stain, it is recommended to use some clean piece of cloth or soft cotton. The ink should get transferable from the fabric to the cloth part.

  • If this is so, then spray the hairspray again on the garments and gently rub until the stain is no more. After the stain has been thoroughly washed off, one is required to wash the garment as the label recommends.

Hand Sanitiser

Hand sanitizers, especially those made from materials containing alcohol are also a worthy option. This is due to the fact that the gel form enables the precise application so that you are coming directly on the stain. Hand sanitizer dissolves the pigments and solvents that are used in most types of ink in a manner that is similar to rubbing alcohol but its gel base does not allow the liquid to spread as quickly. Particularly, the use of this controlled application is effective in cases where one needs to get rid of specific stains.

Applying Hand Sanitiser

  • A hand sanitizer should be used to apply on the stain.

  • Rub it in, and do so in circles.

  • Wipe with a clean towel, then do so again if necessary.

  • Wash the piece with cold water and then wash it as per the instructions that you find on the tag.

Erasing marks from permanent markers does not have to be a complicated task at all. Common household materials that should be in every home include rubbing alcohol, white vinegar, hairspray, and hand sanitizer as they help to clean most stains. It is always recommended to first try the cleaning agent on a small patch and then follow all the steps. If one is patient enough, with some trying and extra effort, one can get their clothes looking as good as brand new.

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