Permanent marker—even the words scream "This stain is never going to go away." Unfortunately, that is sometimes the case. But, there are exceptions and ways to remove that permanent marker stain from your clothing, especially if you catch the problem early.
Fresh ink stains are easier to remove, while older stains may require repeated treatments. If the garment is essential or a favorite piece, it is worth the effort to try to get permanent marker stains out. Removal takes only a few products, but lots of patience.
|Stain type||Permanent marker ink|
|Detergent type||Heavy-duty detergent with enzymes|
|Cycle type||Normal cycle depending on fabric type|
|Drying cycle||Normal cycle depending on fabric type|
|Special treatments||Use oxygen bleach|
Equipment / Tools
- Washer or large tub
- Dryer, drying rack, or clothesline
- Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
- Heavy-duty laundry detergent
- Oxygen-based bleach
- Cotton swabs
- Paper towels
How to Remove Permanent Marker From Washable Clothes
Prepare for Stain Removal
Place a thick layer of paper towels on a waterproof counter or surface. Then, place the garment on top of the towels. Use a cotton swab to dab a bit of rubbing alcohol on a hidden seam of the garment. Wait for the alcohol to dry and check for any color change.
If the fabric dye has not bled, you can proceed. If the fabric has changed color or there is dye bleeding, you should not attempt to remove the ink at home. Consult a dry cleaner, instead—sometimes it's best to call in a professional.
Treat the Stain
Place the stained area of the garment on a layer of paper towels. The towels are there to catch any ink that bleeds through the fabric.
Wet a cotton swab with isopropyl alcohol, then gently dab the stain as not to spread it further. Work from the outside of the stain to the inside to prevent spreading the ink. Or, work from one end of a line of ink to the other.
You will see then the ink transfer to the swab. As the swab becomes ink-saturated, get a new alcohol-soaked swab to prevent re-staining the garment. Keep blotting gently until all of the ink is gone.
Use an Oxygen Bleach Soak
If some traces of color remain, create a solution of oxygen bleach powder and lukewarm water in a sink or large tub. Follow the instructions on the product label to add the correct amount of bleach per gallon of water.
Submerge the garment and allow it to soak for at least four hours, overnight is better. Check the stained area. If any of the marker color still remains, mix a fresh solution and repeat the soaking process.
Wash and Dry the Garment
After soaking, wash the garment as usual and check in on the stained area. If it still shows traces of the ink, repeat all of the steps. If the ink is gone, dry in an automatic dryer, on a clothesline, or on a drying rack.
Do not dry a garment in an automatic dryer if there are still traces of the permanent marker. The high heat of the dryer will make removing the ink impossible.
Removing Permanent Marker From Dry Clean Only Fabrics
The safest method for removing permanent marker from clothes that require dry cleaning is to consult a professional cleaner as quickly as possible. However, if you want to attempt to remove the ink at home, follow the same steps with rubbing alcohol as those for washable clothes.
If the clothes can be hand-washed, you can do the oxygen-bleach soak on all fabric except silk, wool, and anything leather-trimmed. For structured garments like suit coats or embellished garments, consult a professional.
Tips for Hiding a Permanent Marker Stain
- Dye the garment a darker color. This is particularly effective for blue jeans with permanent marker stains.
- Cover the stain with an embellishment like a patch, ribbon trim, or buttons.
- For kid's clothes, allow them to use more permanent markers to create an overall design.