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How to Remove Permanent Marker from Shoes?

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

how to remove permanen marker from shoes

Is your hope for brand-new-looking shoes fading because of a single marker stain? Well, I’d like to tell you that I feel your pain and even got used to this unfortunate event. Luckily, I discovered a way to solve this problem.

This article will show you how to remove permanent marker from shoes using dishwashing soap, vinegar, water, or rubbing alcohol.

Making your shoes brand-new looking again is easy-peasy. Plus, you don’t need to spend a single dime. So, let us get to it!

Things You Need


First off, you will need to combine a few things and make a solution that you can dab on the surface of your shoe. Without further ado, let me introduce the basic home ingredients that you can get to start eliminating those stubborn marker stains.

  • White Vinegar
  • Dishwasher Soap
  • 2 cups of Cool water
  • Rubbing alcohol

The ingredients listed above work well for fabric shoes. But what if your shoe is not made of fabric? Fret not. The second alternative focuses on leather-made shoes. Check out these things below that you can find easily at home.

  • Warm Water
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Leather Conditioner (optional)

I am sure you would be surprised if I tell you that the two main ingredients for making a lemon pie and your personal hygiene tools can also be used to effectively remove unwanted marker stains on your favorite shoe.

For the third alternative that I would gladly share with you, these are the only things that you would need:

  • Baking Soda
  • Lemon juice
  • Toothpaste

Overall, I prefer the first set of ingredients because it comes with broad coverage. Aside from fabric, the four ingredients on the first alternative can also be used on nylon, polyester, and acrylic-made shoes.

Since I have laid out all possible alternatives that worked well for my shoes, it is about time to figure out what works best for you. I will tell you all the detailed processes, which are all simple and easy to understand.

Stain Removal Process for Alternative 1


Step 1: Mix all the ingredients

Combine one tablespoon or 14.8mL of white vinegar, one tablespoon or 14.8mL of dishwasher soap, and two cups of cool water. For this step, you can use a large spoon to properly mix all the ingredients.

Step 2: Test the Solution on a Small Spot of your Shoe

The next thing to do is to use a clean piece of clothing to test the solution on a small part of the shoe. When no soft clothing is available, a simple rag will do.

Put the solution on the cloth and apply it to the shoe’s surface. After that, let your shoe absorb the said solution by allowing it to set for a minute or so.

Afterwards, you can blot the area with a damp and clean piece of cloth to get rid of the solution. Carefully observe the results and look for any signs of discoloration, deposit, or stains caused by the homemade solution.

When this method does not work for you, and unwanted effects start to bloom out, you can proceed to the second or third alternative. But if there are no adverse effects, you can proceed to the third step.

Step 3: Apply the Solution to the Shoe in Problem

When doing this process, you can use either a clean sponge, clothing, or rag. Afterward, you should let the solution sit for 30 minutes. But, take note that you should dab the area with an added solution every five minutes while setting the solution.

Step 4: Rinse with Cold Water

After the solution has been set completely, you can now run another clean cloth in cold water. This wet cloth will be used to eliminate the solution by wiping it clean or sponging the area thoroughly.

If necessary, you can run the sponge again in cold water until the stain is removed. If visible stains still remain, this is where rubbing alcohol comes to the rescue.

Rubbing alcohol is also used to remove marker stains. This is a stand-alone solution and is ideal when you are in a hurry because you can instantly pour some and start rubbing the stain off with a clean towel.

Put just the right amount of rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth to splotch the shoe stain. Repeat the sponge and blot method until the stains are removed and the shoe surface is dried out.

Stain Removal Process for Alternative 2

This time, let’s tackle shoes that are made out of leather. This one involves a different stain removal process. But I guarantee you that it will be as easy as the first alternative.

Step 1: Put Sunscreen on a Clean Cloth

The first step is to squeeze and put a pea-sized quantity of sunscreen on clean clothing or rag. For this part, it would be ideal to use a white towel to accurately determine if the sunscreen is removing the leather’s stain.

Step 2: Rub the shoe stain in little, circular motions.

This part is one of the simplest yet crucial steps to follow. I highly recommend applying the gentlest pressure of your hand during rubbing to avoid discoloration. Rubbing the solution in gentle circular motions also helps retain the quality of the shoe.

If your shoe comes with a large marker stain, it would be best if you can work on small sections at a time. It is important to constantly add sunscreen during the application if needed. Have a little patience, and I can assure you that the stain will be gone in no time.

Step 3: Rinse with soap and warm water.

After a short time of constant rubbing, the marker stain is probably removed. You can then proceed to clean the spot using warm water and a bar of mild soap. Always remember to use a clean piece of clothing or rag when cleaning and drying the area.

Suppose there is slight damage caused by rubbing, use some leather conditioner to restore or repair the affected area. Plus, this also helps shield the material from future damage.

While the first two alternatives are great at removing marker stains, I still have to introduce the third one. And it amazingly works as well! Check this out.

Stain Removal Process for Alternative 3

Step 1: Clean the Shoe with Toothpaste

Start to lessen the stain by cleaning it with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Put on a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your shoe and gently scrub it off. By this time, some parts, if not all of the stain, will be scrubbed off.

Step 2: Add Baking Soda

Scoop up some baking soda using the same toothbrush and rub it on the affected area of your shoe. This will boost the stain removal process by 50%. However, you will notice that it will come to a bluish color after the baking soda’s application.

Step 3: Drop Some Lemon Juice

To remove the creamy bluish color on the shoe, add a few drops of lemon juice and start scrubbing again.

But for more convenience, I prefer to scrub the sliced lemon directly onto the shoe’s surface. You can wipe off the excess using a dry towel.

If you want to have a reference while doing your work, you can use this good video guide.

For more tricks, check out our list of Pro Tips to make your work easier:

  1. It is a good habit to know your shoe’s material first. Is it made of leather or not? By knowing this, you can easily decide which method is ideal for removing your shoe stains.
  2. Choosing a piece of cloth or rag that you no longer use is highly advisable.
  3. When testing the solution on your shoe, it is best to apply it to a hidden part of the shoe’s surface to avoid any unwanted outcomes.
  4. If you want to play safe like me, you can also test the homemade solution on an old shoe rather than applying it to the actual shoe. I do this all the time to avoid unwanted results on my affected shoe.
  5. When using sunscreen, I highly recommend using white-colored creams rather than tan-colored or yellow-tinted sunscreen sprays. This will help you avoid extra staining caused by the sunscreen.


Pretty easy, right? All the tips and alternatives I have laid out are effective. That is why I’m really enthusiastic about sharing my knowledge, especially since my permanent markers often slip off of my hand and onto my shoe.

Try out which method works for you, and share your experiences with us in the comment box.

Enjoyed the article? You can help us by sharing the article with your friends. It would really mean a lot! Furthermore, read our latest guide about the top-rated marker for autographs and a list of the most favorite markers for kids.

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