How to Remove Chalk Stains From Clothing, Carpet, and Upholstery

garment stained with chalk

​The Spruce / Michele Lee

Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 90 mins

Drawing with sidewalk chalk can be a fun outdoor activity but boy, does it seem to get everywhere. Add small children to the mix, and you can end up with clothes that appear more chalk than fabric. Also, because chalk tends to spread to whatever it touches, it can lead to stains on fabric, carpet, and upholstery. Luckily, there are some easy ways to get rid of chalk—even multicolored chalk—stains. Always make sure the stain is completely removed before placing washed clothes in the dryer; dryer heat can set in chalk stains and make them worse. Also, resist the temptation to blot a fresh chalk stain with water, as this could cause the stain to smear.

Stain type Mineral-based
Detergent type Regular
Water temperature Hot
Cycle type Normal

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Clean white towels
  • Drying rack

Materials

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Stain remover (gel or spray) or dishwashing liquid
  • Laundry detergent

Instructions

materials for chalk stain removal
The Spruce / Michele Lee

Before You Begin

One of the first things to do when clothing becomes stained with chalk is to shake the item or lightly brush off the loose chalk dust, preferably outside. Shaking or brushing the item inside could spread the chalk to other surfaces, such as upholstered furniture or carpet. For most clothes, if no chalk is visible, you can now try washing on a normal cycle. Before drying, make sure to double-check to make sure all of the chalk has truly been removed.

Remove Chalk Stains From Clothing

  1. Blot With Rubbing Alcohol

    Lay the clothing item on a clean white towel. Dip another clean white towel in rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. Keep blotting until no more color comes away. Rinse clothing thoroughly.

    pretreating a chalk stain
    The Spruce / Michele Lee

    Tip

    Rubbing alcohol can remove the color from fabrics. Always test a tiny spot of rubbing alcohol on an interior seam of clothing to make sure the item is colorfast.

  2. Pretreat

    If any hint of the stain remains, apply liquid laundry detergent, a bit of dishwashing liquid, or stain remover directly to the area. Try a gel or liquid stain remover to thoroughly penetrate through the chalk stain. Wait at least 15 minutes before washing the clothing.

    pretreating a chalk stain
    The Spruce / Michele Lee
  3. Wash in Hot Water

    Wash your item in the hottest temperature the fabric will allow or according to care label instructions.

    care label on a garment
    ​The Spruce / Michele Lee
  4. Air-Dry

    Allow the clothing to air-dry until you're sure the stain is gone. Drying in the dryer may set the stain and make it permanent or extremely difficult to remove. If after air-drying you still see a stain, repeat the steps above. Once you are sure the stain is gone, it is safe to place the item in the dryer the next time you wash it.

    garment air drying on a rack
    ​The Spruce / Michele Lee 

How to Remove Chalk Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

If that brightly colored chalk finds its way from the sidewalk to your sofa or carpet, act quickly so the chalk doesn't spread or become deeply embedded in the fabric or carpet fibers.

rug stained with chalk
​The Spruce / Michele Lee 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Dry cleaning solvent (Optional)

Tools

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Sponge or clean white cloth
  • White paper towels
  1. Vacuum up Loose Chalk

    Using the brush attachment on a regular vacuum cleaner or a hand-held vacuum, pick up as much of the loose chalk as you can.

    vacuuming up loose chalk on a rug
    The Spruce / Michele Lee
  2. Blot With Dishwashing Liquid

    Mix 2 cups of cold water and 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid and use a sponge or a clean cloth to saturate the stain with the solution. Blot with a dry cloth until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat this step as needed to lift the stain.

    blotting the chalk stain with dishwashing liquid
    ​The Spruce / Michele Lee
  3. Use Dry Cleaning Solvent

    If any hint of chalk stain remains, try using a dry-cleaning solvent on the area. Follow the instructions on the product label.

  4. Blot and Dry

    Blot the area again with cold water and allow it to dry. For carpet, place layers of white paper towel over the spot, use a heavy glass or ceramic object to weigh the paper towel down and let it sit overnight. Vacuum the carpet the next day to restore its texture.

    allowing dry cleaning solvent to sit
    ​The Spruce / Michele Lee 

If a chalk stain remains after several attempts to remove it from clothing, you may want to take the item to a professional dry cleaner. For persistent stains on carpet or upholstery, professional cleaning may also be required. Use the guide for advice on removing other types of stains.