How to Get Permanent Marker Off Fabric & Clothes: 9 Easy Ways

The power of Sharpie ink has done it again, I presume. Currently, sitting with the fabric piece that has the permanent marker stain? How on earth do you get rid of that?

how to get permanent marker off fabric

These markers have the ‘permanent’ written all over them for a reason. However, the labels don’t mention the hidden tricks to remove marks. Many individuals have followed these suggestions to get out of the nuisance successfully.

The guide will give you a number of techniques on how to get permanent marker off fabric & clothes without regretting a thing. So, that clothing item is not entirely doomed due to some slip-up!

Will Sharpie Wash Out of Fabric?

Sharpies are notorious for being stubbornly permanent. The brand should be proud of its brilliant everlasting quality.

You might not feel the same if you accidentally worked it on a piece of fabric, especially your favorite outfit. Can you wash it out, though?

Will Sharpie Wash Out of Fabric

The answer relies on various factors. For example, what type of fabric was it? Was the marking too deep and wide? What color Sharpie was it? How long ago was the stain made?

Many other questions come to mind but let’s get to the point. It is all about time. You heard it right. Perhaps frequent washing of the clothing will eventually force the ink to fade out (do not wash multiple times within a day, it will damage the fabric fibers).

It is Permanent, but not Sharpie?

Was it not a Sharpie, but the label says ‘permanent’ anyhow? Well, the same applies to all the permanent markers in the world.

These markers have alcohol and oil to ensure solidity. Rubbing the garment in your hands with water is not the solution here. Once again, you must be patient in tackling the stain, as it will fade away with time.

Here, the regular detergent and the usual washing machine’s wash cycle will play a major role. The consistent wash cycle targets the stain chemicals and breaks them down little by little.

Once the colorants are exposed, it is only a matter of time before the mark fades away.

How Do You Get Permanent Markers on a Fabric?

You better keep a few tricks up your sleeves for urgent missions. Maybe a friend jokingly doodled on your clothes. Or an innocent kid began drawing a kingdom on a sofa fabric, unaware of the world or your warning.

How Do You Get Permanent Markers on a Fabric

There are a plethora of examples I can mention, including my experience that involved a whole bunch of colored Sharpies and a victim of a dress that was once fully white.

So, there are ways you can successfully clean off the marker stains, assuming you act fast. Your kitchen/bathroom may have some of the items that can eliminate this challenge. I will let you know further in the section below.

What Takes Permanent Marker Out of Clothes?

Sometimes the baking soda might do the trick; on other occasions, it could be the rubbing alcohol. Even nail polish removers may do what soap and water fail to accomplish.

What Takes Permanent Marker Out of Clothes

It all depends on the substances present in these items – alcohol/acetone, etc. They are the bane to the Sharpie permanent markers.

However, you must keep an eye on the fabric piece when applying alcohol-based products to avoid damage.

Also, did you know toothpaste, vinegar, and hairspray are some of the house items that can take out permanent marker mishaps? Who knew?

How to Get Permanent Marker Off Fabric & Clothes: 9 Ways with Step-by-Step Guide

Well, enough discussion on whether or not you can get permanent Sharpie stains off the fabrics. The more time lapses after getting a marker stain, the harder it will be to remove it. So, here are the tricks, many of which I have applied personally and got positive results:

how to get marker out of clothes

Method 1: With Baking Soda

I always keep a large box of baking soda (most kitchens have one) in my kitchen cabinet because its multipurpose efficiency has astounded me on many occasions. Just a bit of its pasty substance can get any kind of stain or odor out of anywhere!

You’ll Need:

  • Few paper towels
  • A regular towel (optional)
  • A small bowl
  • Baking soda
  • Cold water.

Step by Step Guide

The instructions are super easy. You just have to prepare the fabric so the ink does not bleed anywhere else when the baking soda does its job.

  • Take those paper towels and put them between the marked area and the other side of the fabric piece.
  • You can also place a normal towel underneath the paper towels in case they get soaked.
  • Now take 1 tbsp of baking soda in the small bowl.
  • Add 1/3 cup (about 5.3 tbsp.) of cold water.
  • Mix it well to create a paste.
  • Apply it on the stained fabric; spread it well.
  • Rub the paste in a circular motion, be sure to be gentle.
  • Leave it for 15 minutes to sit in. The timing may vary up to an hour.
  • Wash it by hand or in the washing machine as you usually do.

Next Read: How to Remove Hot Glue From Fabric & Clothes

Method 2: With Rubbing Alcohol

I am quite prone to paper cuts all the time. Hence, rubbing alcohol is another staple item always present in bathroom cabinets. Let me explain how it can remove Sharpie/permanent markers.

You’ll Need:

  • Grab a few paper towels
  • A cotton swab or a sponge (depending on the stain size and fabric type)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cold water.

Step by Step Guide

It is a very easy method that delivers speedy results.

  • Put the garment someplace flat and steady, like a table/counter surface.
  • Once again, place the paper towels between the stained area and the other side of the clothing. Don’t bother with it if it is a couch or a sofa fabric.
  • Dip the cotton swab or the sponge into the solution.
  • Dab it on the stained surface – around the spot and on the spot directly.
  • Keep working on the mark till it bleeds out and soaks into the paper towel and swab/sponge.
  • You can replace the paper towels with new sheets if the previous ones are soaked.

Read Also: How to Get Slime Out of Fabric

Method 3: With WD40

The WD40 is a multipurpose product usually used for lubricating stuck parts and joints that are in constant motion. However, it is not a lubricant entirely.

It contains agents and ingredients to remove soil and prevent corrosion and water displacement. Keep in mind that WD40 is quite strong and evaporates quickly.

You’ll Need:

  • WD40 spray
  • Clean Cloth

It is better to try this method in an open area where the air vents fast. Grab a WD40 spray can and a piece of clean cloth. That is all you’ll require.

Step by Step Guide

While it is a pretty shortcut technique, the person must take precautions for safety so as not to inhale too much of the stuff.

Spray WD40 onto the Sharpie stain (don’t spray for too long). Make sure it is direct.
Wait about 5 minutes.
Take a piece of cloth and scrub on the sprayed area of the fabric. The ink should fade away soon.

Read Next: How to Remove Water Stains From Fabric & Clothes

Method 4: With Vinegar

White vinegar is another water-based solution that contains acidic properties. So, if you got lemons at home, that might work as well!

For now, let’s get on with vinegar, which helps dissolve various mineral deposits.

You’ll Need:

  • White vinegar
  • A piece of clean cloth or a cotton ball
  • Cold water.

Step by Step Guide

Is the fabric too soft? This method is the perfect solution that minimizes damage.

  • Take the cloth or the cotton ball.
  • Dip it with some vinegar.
  • Dab on the spots.
  • Wait five minutes or so.
  • Blot the stained area.
  • You might need to replace the current cotton ball or the cloth with a new one.
  • Continue blotting until the stain is gone.
  • Lastly, wash the fabric piece in the washing machine with a regular wash cycle. Or hand wash the solvent with cold water.

Read Also: How to Remove Fabric Paint From Fabric & Clothes

Method 5: Erase Marker

This kind of marker is used well after applying one of the alcohol or water-based solution to remove the permanent marker stains.

So do not grab one just yet, thinking it is all you’ll need to remove a stubborn mark completely.

You’ll Need:

  • Erase marker.

Step by Step Guide

People mostly know it by magic eraser. Many believe it is suitable for hard surfaces only, which is a misconception.

  • Dab the stained area with one of the alcohol or water-based solvent and a paper towel.
  • Continue patting it so that the ink slowly gets absorbed into the towel.
  • Now gently rub the magic eraser/erase marker on the affected area.
  • Rinse and clean the fabric. Let it dry completely.
  • If the faded stain still remains, repeat the process once more.

Method 6: Nail Polish Remover

I’ve utilized nail polish remover for more versatile cleaning tasks than removing nail polish. The acetone solvent is great for removing permanent stains of markers on clothes.

You’ll Need:

  • A nail polish remover
  • A sponge
  • A few paper towels
  • Cold water.

Step by Step Guide

You already know what to do with the paper towels. Place them between the stained cloth and its other side. Now get to work.

  • Dip the sponge in the remover/solvent.
  • Dab it gently, and work your way from around the stain first. Then target the stain directly.
  • Continue the process until the stain comes out.
  • Rinse the area with cold water.
  • Now you can wash the clothing in a normal wash cycle.

Method 7: Hand Sanitizer

Who knew hand sanitizers could be considered a great means of removing Sharpie marks aside from terminating germs? But then, it contains alcohol, so you get the gist.

You’ll Need:

  • Hand sanitizer.

Step by Step Guide

If you are worried the ink will bleed to the other side of the fabric, you can place some paper towels underneath to absorb the broken-down colorants.

  • Imagine a dime.
  • Now squirt out a dime size amount of hand sanitizer on the victimized fabric.
  • Spread the substance onto the fibers in a circular motion until the blotches no longer alarm you.

Method 8: Hairspray

Alcohol-based hairspray is another cool way to remove permanent marker stains from denim, cotton, poly-blend, or polyester fabrics.

You’ll Need:

  • Hairspray (one that’s not labeled as alcohol-free)
  • A clean towel or cloth piece
  • Cotton balls.

Step by Step Guide

Always buy the product after reading the ingredients label to avoid purchasing the wrong kind.

  • Place the towel or the cloth on a flat surface (a table or a counter).
  • Put the garment on it so the liquefied stain afterward can get absorbed by the cloth/towel underneath.
  • Take a cotton ball and soak it with hairspray.
  • Press it well directly at the stain.
  • Use this process several times to blot out the stain completely.
  • Then wash the fabric in a washing machine.

Method 9: Toothpaste

This is the master of oral hygiene. Its abrasive properties not only remove dental plaques but also eliminate stains!

You’ll Need:

  • Pea-sized white toothpaste
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • An unused toothbrush
  • Cold water.

Step by Step Guide

When you are in a hurry and the stain has to go, you can apply this technique to treat the fabric quickly.

  • Apply toothpaste to the stained area.
  • Alternatively, add a few drops of lemon juice to the paste, and mix it for better efficiency.
  • Scrub the stained portion with a toothbrush.
  • Let it sit for 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Rinse clean with cold water.
  • Use the washing machine with a regular wash cycle as a final step.

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Fabric Sofa

When a tiny food stain on a sofa fabric makes me cringe, imagine a sizable permanent marker smudge glaring at you like a tear in a black hole.

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Fabric Sofa

You have to act quickly; the longer you take, the more the ink will be absorbed by the material fibers.

Try the vinegar, toothpaste, or baking soda method since you cannot throw the fabric in the washer immediately. Keep an unused toothbrush/sponge at hand to scrub over the stain.

Always wait a few minutes for the solvent/solution to soak in and work its magic. Then clean off the residues with cold water.

Don’t lose hope if the marking is still slightly visible. You can repeat the process a few times till your couch or sofa is good as new!

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Clothes after Being Washed

An important meeting/date awaits within a couple of hours or 30 minutes. Then the permanent marker does what it does best – smear the outfit you laid out to wear. This freak of an accident always gets me in panic mode.

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Clothes after Being Washed

On the other hand, you took out the fresh laundry out of the dryer and notice one of the clothes contains old marker stain.

There are ways to get out of either situation quickly and effectively.

Grab anything that is alcohol-based. The great choices are hairspray, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol, etc. Now follow the techniques described above, and you are out of the full-on red alert.

Also, you can submerge the stained clothing into rubbing alcohol. Then take it out to cover it with salt. Pour a tiny bit of milk and rub the area as if your life depended on it. This should do the trick.

How to Get Rid of Permanent Markers on Colored Clothes

Was it a colored or black Sharpie on colored clothes? Some colored clothes may show discoloration when removing the devilish stain with alcohol-based solutions.

How to Get Rid of Permanent Markers on Colored Clothes

Still, you must remove the smidge-like spots or marks, courtesy of the permanent markers.

Try any of the methods mentioned above to rid of the stains. If you ask me, I’d suggest opting for a water-based solution, like vinegar. It is just to be safe and to avoid a visible paleness due to the lack of dyes from the fabric itself.

That would be a sore to the eyes.

How to Avoid Permanent Markers on Fabric?

Here is what I tell my sister all the time, who always manages to get Sharpie marks in most of her clothes – for the love of Sharpie, please put the cap back on the marker!

How to Avoid Permanent Markers on Fabric

Also, give the kids board/erasable markers instead of permanent ones. I learned this trick from a friend who let her children draw anywhere with a smile!

A little tip for the adults, try working with these markers on your work or study table. It will be less susceptible to falling on couches or sofas.

Furthermore, fold your sleeves higher if wearing anything long-sleeved. Close the marker with its cap right after using it so it won’t fall on your lap and make a blotchy mess.

Final Words

There’s no way to tell when or where the Sharpie might attack by falling/dropping; or by a child’s quick and active hand grabs.

All I know is that we should all be ready when it makes a permanent mark on your lovely dress or upholstered fabric. This guide on how to get permanent markers off fabric & clothes is based on many experiments accomplished by thousands of people.

Now get on that terrible stain and remove it like a pro!

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