How to Remove Correction Fluid Stains From Clothes, Upholstery, and Carpet

correction fluid stains
David Plater UK/Moment/Getty Images
Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Correction fluid may seem as old-fashioned as a manual typewriter, but it was once an office staple. It is still used to cover a multitude of goofs on paper surfaces. Unfortunately, getting the stains out of clothes, upholstery, or carpet is not easy, but it can be done.

Correction fluid comes in a wide range of opaque colors that can be used to cover ink. It is made with colored pigments (usually titanium dioxide-based to make them opaque), polymeric binders, and solvents. The solvents can easily evaporate and leave the fluid thick, gummy, and adhered to a fabric it comes in contact with.

Correction Fluid Stain
Stain type Chemical-based 
Detergent type Stain remover
Water temperature Cold

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife or plastic edge
  • White towel or cloth
  • Cotton swab
  • Washing machine (optional)
  • Eyedropper (optional for upholstery)

Materials

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cold water
  • Acetone-based nail polish remover (optional)
  • Stain remover stick, gel or spray (optional)
  • Dry-cleaning solvent (optional)

Instructions

How to Remove Correction Fluid Stains From Clothes

If a drop of correction fluid lands on your clothes, do not rub. That will only drive the pigments deeper into the fabric fibers.

Stain Removal Tips for Garments


  • Test any detergents or cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area of your garment to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.
  • If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, lift away any solids with a dull edge tool like a credit card (no rubbing) and immediately head to your dry cleaner; point out and identify the stain.
  • Try dry-cleaning solvent. Follow instructions, work from the outside edge of the stain toward to center to keep it from spreading. 
  • If using a home dry cleaning kit, treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.
  1. Lift Away the Solid Residue

    Use the edge of a plastic knife or a credit card to lift away any solids and as much of the fluid as possible.

  2. Dab Rubbing Alcohol on the Stain

    Wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol. Working from the outside edge of the correction fluid stain, dab the alcohol on the stained area of the fabric (front and back) and allow it to penetrate well for at least five minutes. The correction fluid should begin to break down and begin releasing small white flecks.

  3. Rinse the Area

    Hold the stained area under a faucet of running cold water and rinse the area well.

  4. Air-Dry

    Blot with a dry white towel and allow the fabric to air-dry completely.

    Do Not Use a Dryer

    Do not dry the clothing in a clothes dryer until the stain is entirely gone.

  5. Check Fabric Label

    If any trace of the stain remains before you proceed to the next step involving acetone, you must read the fabric content label of your garment or accessory.

    If your clothing has a fiber content of acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, do not try anything more to remove the stain at home. Take your garment or bedspread to a professional dry cleaner. No further home cleaning method to remove the correction fluid is safe for these fabrics. 

    Avoid Nail Polish Remover

    Do not use nail polish remover (or acetone) on acetate, triacetate, or mod-acrylic fabrics. Nail polish remover will dissolve these fabrics and create a hole that cannot be repaired.

  6. Dab With Acetone

    If any trace of the stain remains on other types of fabric that are not acetate, triacetate, or mod-acrylic, place a white paper towel under the correction fluid stain. Using a cotton swab, dab the stain with acetone-based nail polish remover. Keep dabbing until the stain is removed.

  7. Apply Stain Remover and Wash

    Treat the affected area with a stain remover and launder as usual.

Remove Correction Fluid Stains from Upholstery

The supplies you use to remove stains from upholstery and carpet are the same as you would use on clothing, but the method you will use is slightly different.

Stain Removal Tips for Upholstery and Carpet

  • Take extra care not to wet upholstery fabric too much so you do not saturate the cushion material underneath.
  • If the stain is small, use cotton swabs instead of a larger cloth to prevent the stain from getting larger.
  • Always test acetone or dry cleaning solvent on a hidden spot to make sure that the fabric or fibers do not change color or start dissolving.
  • If the stain is on silk or vintage upholstery or carpet, contact a professional cleaner.
  1. Lift Away Solid Residue

    Use a dull plastic edge to lift any solids up and away from the fabric or fibers. Be as careful as possible to not spread the stain even larger on the upholstery or carpet surface.

  2. Dab on Rubbing Alcohol or Nail Polish Remover

    Use an eyedropper or cotton swab to apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover to the stain on the upholstery or carpet.

  3. Blot Stain

    Have a clean, white cloth or paper towel ready to blot the fabric or fibers immediately. Keep repeating the steps until no more stain is visible or it can't be removed any further. 

  4. Rinse, Dry, and Vacuum

    When the stain is gone, sponge the area with clean water and blot dry. Allow to air-dry away from direct heat. If you are working on a carpet, after sponging the area, vacuum to lift the fibers.

  5. Final Effort: Use Dry-Cleaning Solvent

    If all else fails and the stain remains on a carpet, allow the spot to dry and then treat the area with a dry-cleaning solvent.

    Keep the room well-ventilated and sponge the stain with a bit of the solvent on a clean white cloth. Keep moving to a clean area of the cloth as the stain is absorbed into the cloth to prevent additional staining. Once the stain is removed, blot dry and vacuum.