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How to Get Permanent Marker Out of Clothes: 10 Methods

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to get permanent marker out of clothes

Don’t you feel frustrated when you see your favorite clothes with permanent ink stains?

The first thing you probably do is rub it with water or a damp cloth. You tried washing it in a regular wash to no avail. The next thing you know, the permanent marker stain seemed to have stayed there forever. What a bummer!

Fortunately, there are many different ways you can try to get permanent marker off clothes. You can even find some effective solutions in your household items! So if you are wondering how to get permanent marker out of clothes without too much hassle, keep reading!

1st Method: Use Rubbing Alcohol as an Initial Remedy

Alcohol is one of the most commonly used solutions to remove permanent marker from clothes. It can work as an initial remedy to get rid of stains before washing your clothes in a regular wash.

Things You Will Need:

  • Alcohol
  • Cardboard
  • Sponge
  • Paper towel

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Place cardboard or a paper towel on the backside of the stained fabric. This prevents the stains from transferring to other parts of your clothes.
  • Using a small sponge or cotton balls, gently rub the area where the stain is located. It is much better to frequently change the sponge as it absorbs the ink. You may also use cotton balls so you can dispose of them afterward.
  • At this point, you will notice that the stain begins to transfer into your sponge as you begin rubbing the clothes.
  • After that, wash your clothes as usual. You may also check the other part of your clothes for extra stains. Toss them into the washing machine and your clothes are good to go!

2nd Method: Apply Baking Soda on Fresh Permanent Ink Stains


Baking soda has been considered an amazing multipurpose cleaning solution for any stain. Not only does it remove stains all around the house, but it is also one of the non-toxic methods for removing permanent markers from clothes.

Things You Will Need:

  • Paper towel
  • 2 tablespoons Baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Disposable cup
  • Cotton ball

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Place the paper towel behind the stain. This is to protect the unstained part of your clothes.
  • Mix two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of lemon juice in a cup. Lemon juice aids in stain removal since it is high in acid.
  • Use a cotton ball and dip it in baking soda and lemon juice paste. Rub it in carefully all over the stain and let it sit for half an hour.
  • Finally, put the garment in the washing machine with your regular detergent. This process rinses and removes the stain completely.

3rd Method: Use Vinegar as a Natural Stain Soak

Vinegar has an acidic component that can help eradicate household stains problems. With its effective cleaning power, it can get Sharpie out of clothes, too! Just keep in mind to let it sit on the stain for a while for the best results.

Things You Will Need:

  • Cardboard
  • Vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • Sponge
  • Paper towel

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Place cardboard behind the stain or paper towel to absorb the excess stain and thus, protect other parts of the clothing.
  • Damp a sponge with vinegar and rub it in gently on the stain. Let this sit for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, soak a new sponge in vinegar and dab it on the stain until it disappears. At this point, you will see that the stains will begin to fade.
  • Rinse it with water and wash out the vinegar.
  • Toss your clothing into the washing machine with your regular detergent for thorough cleaning.

4th Method: Try Removing it with Toothpaste


Although toothpaste is a common household item, you would be surprised to see it has another basic function: to get permanent marker out of fabric.

Things You Will Need:

  • Toothpaste
  • Paper towel

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Take a small amount of toothpaste and apply it to the stain. Rub it gently until the stain disappears. For stubborn stains, let the toothpaste sit for 10 to 15 minutes after rubbing it.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the paste using a paper towel. Gently remove it and check if the stain is still visible.
  • Rinse it with water or a damp cloth to remove any excess toothpaste.
  • Wash it with your regular detergent for thorough cleaning.
  • If the stains are still visible, repeat the steps.

5th Method: Choose Hand sanitizer as an Alcohol Alternative


Hand sanitizer contains alcohol that can eliminate stains. Perhaps, the only difference is that hand sanitizer has a gooey texture that you can easily apply to the stained fabric.

However, remember to use plain and clear sanitizer when getting permanent marker out of clothes. Do not use the ones with dyes and glitters. Otherwise, it might create new stains or alter the fabric’s appearance.

Things You Will Need:

  • Paper towel
  • Plain and clear hand sanitizer

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Apply some hand sanitizer on a paper towel or tissue.
  • Use it to rub the stain gently. Much better if you rub the stains toward you to prevent any ink smears.
  • Since a paper towel or tissue may easily tear, you can use more sheets to do this. Then, apply hand sanitizer again on a paper towel or tissue.
  • Continue to rub the stain gently until it disappears.
  • Use a damp paper towel or tissue to rinse the hand sanitizer. Make sure to do this carefully to prevent any ink smears.
  • Wash the clothes with your regular detergent.

6th Method: Go for Hydrogen Peroxide to Make Stains Invisible

If you use bleach on your laundry, you will have an idea of how hydrogen peroxide works. This product offers bleaching properties that can get marker out of clothes and make them invisible.

Unlike chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach is known to be color-safe. Therefore, you can use it to eradicate permanent marker ink stains on both white and lightfast-colored clothes.

Things You Will Need:

  • A thick pad
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • A cotton swab

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Similar to the previous methods, it is important to insert a thick protective pad or board underneath the clothing before you start with the process to prevent any ink transfers.
  • Although hydrogen peroxide is known to safely remove stains on colored clothes, it is best to test it first in an inconspicuous part of your clothing. Use a cotton swab to do this. Some colored clothes are not lightfast, resulting in color transfers and fading.

If the color fades or transfers, skip this process. Otherwise, proceed with the next step.

  • Pour a small amount of hydrogen peroxide on the ink stain. You can also use a clean cloth to gently rub the stain. Repeat this process several times until the color begins to fade.
  • Let the hydrogen peroxide sit for 10 to 15 minutes. This allows the fabric to absorb the bleach until the stain disappears completely.
  • Rinse it with water and check for the stains.
  • Wash your garment as usual.

7th Method: Use Chlorine Bleach for All-White Clothes

Chlorine bleach is an excellent remedy for stubborn stains on all-white clothes. Take note that this is only suitable for all-white clothes. When applied to colored garments, it can create white stains and fade. Therefore, make sure to use this very carefully, especially when you are washing both white and colored clothes at once.

To try this method, follow the directions on your bleach bottle. In most cases, you will prepare a mix of water and bleach, then soak the garment in it.

Things You Will Need:

  • Chlorine bleach
  • Gloves
  • Basin

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Since chlorine bleach is strong stain removal, you may consider wearing gloves before you proceed with this step. As it protects your skin from irritations and any harmful effects, wearing gloves can also prevent your hands from making any contact with your colored garments.
  • Afterward, prepare a solution of chlorine bleach and water in a basin. In a gallon of water, use 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach. Take note: do not soak it in concentrated chlorine bleach. Otherwise, it will damage the fabric.
  • Soak the stained garment in the solution for an hour. For stubborn stains, you can leave them overnight.
  • For spot cleaning, apply a small amount of bleach directly to the stain. Let it sit for a couple of minutes or until the stain disappears.
  • Wash the garment as usual.

8th Method: Apply Some Salt for Wet Ink Stains


Sometimes, you do not need to look further than your kitchen for a quick ink stain removal. Besides a primary cooking condiment, salt is also an alternative option to eradicate ink stains, especially wet ones. Salt contains dehydrating properties that can lift the stain off the fabric.

Things You Will Need:

  • Paper towel
  • Salt

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Apply a generous amount of salt to the stain.
  • Using a damp soft cloth or paper towel, gently rub the salt in the stain. Keep doing this until the stain disappears.
  • Then brush off the salt.
  • Wash your clothes as usual using a mild detergent.

9th Method: Try Nail Polish Remover for Any Kinds of Ink Stain

Aside from nail polish, a nail polish remover or acetone contains a liquid solvent that can eradicate paint and stains, including permanent ink stains.

Things You Will Need:

  • A soft absorbent cloth or pad
  • A cotton ball
  • Nail polish remover

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Acetone has a strong odor that can cause headaches. Thus, make sure to find a well-ventilated space when using it.
  • Before you start the process, insert an absorbent cloth or thick pad under the garment to prevent any ink transfers.
  • Pour a small amount of acetone on a cotton ball. Then, dab it on the stain gently until the ink stain comes off. Take note that you should not pour the acetone directly onto the stain. Otherwise, the ink stain will smear.
  • Once the stain is gone, wash the garment using your detergent.

10th Method: Use Hairspray to Eliminate Stains on Synthetic Fabric


Hairspray can deal with permanent marker ink stains as long as they contain alcohol. This product works best on synthetic fabric like nylon or polyester, which are quite challenging to clean when marker ink stains get into.

Things You Will Need:

  • Paper towel
  • A thick pad or board
  • Hairspray

Step-by-step Instructions:

  • Place a thick pad or board under the garment to protect the other side from ink smears or transfers.
  • Use the hairspray and spray some on the stain. Let it sit on the stain for a couple of minutes.
  • As soon as the stain disappears, rinse it with water. If the stains are still visible, repeat the process.
  • Wash the garment in your machine as usual.


Overall, there are many different methods to try on how to get permanent marker out of clothes without using too much elbow grease or spending a lot on expensive cleaners. If your usual detergent can’t do the job, there are common household items that will do the trick and keep your clothes spotlessly clean. Hope this guide helps!

Furthermore, getting marker out of each material is different, therefore you can learn the following solutions for each material:

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