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

Get Wite-Out Out of Your Fabrics

correction fluid stains
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Correction fluid may seem as old-fashioned as a manual typewriter, but it was once an office staple. It will not work on computer screens, but it is still used to cover a multitude of goofs on white surfaces. Unfortunately, getting the stains out of clothes, carpet, or upholstery is not easy, but it can be done with some supplies you likely have at home or can get at a hardware store or supermarket.

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

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

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes to 2 hours (depending on the severity of stain)

Before You Begin

Test any detergents or cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area first to ensure that it does not discolor the fabric.

At all costs, do not dry the clothes in a clothes dryer until the stain is entirely gone.

If the garment is labeled as dry clean only, lift away any solids with a dull edge like a credit card (no rubbing) and head to the cleaner as soon as possible; point out and identify the stain for your professional cleaner.

You can also attempt to remove the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent. Follow the product instructions and always work from the outside edge of the stain toward to center to keep it from spreading. 

If you are using a home dry cleaning kit, be sure to treat the stain with the provided stain remover before putting the garment in the dryer bag.

If the upholstery is silk or vintage, contact a professional cleaner.

What You'll Need

Supplies

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

Tools

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

How to Remove Correction Fluid Stains From Clothes

  1. Scrape Away the Solid Residue

    If a drop of correction fluid lands on your clothes, do not rub. That will only drive the pigments deeper into the fabric fibers. 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 5 minutes. The correction fluid should begin to break down and release small white flecks.

  3. Rinse the Area

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

  4. Air Dry

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

  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. 

    Acetone vs. Acetate

    Do not use nail polish remover (or acetone) on synthetic fabrics like acetate, triacetate, or mod-acrylic fabrics; nail polish remover will dissolve these fabrics or burn a hole in an area that you spot treat.

  6. Dab With Acetone

    For other types of fabric, if any trace of the stain remains, place a white paper towel under the correction fluid stain and 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 with a stain remover and launder as usual.

Remove Correction Fluid Stains from Carpet and Upholstery

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

Another difference with upholstery is that you need to take extra care not to overwet the fabric; 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 bigger. Always test the acetone or dry cleaning solvent on a hidden spot to make sure that the fabric does not change color or start dissolving.

  1. Scrape Away Solid Residue

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

  2. Dab on Rubbing Alcohol or Nail Polish Remover

    Use an eyedropper or cotton swab to apply a few drops of rubbing alcohol or fingernail polish remover to a small area of he stain.

  3. Blot Stain

    Have a clean, white cloth or paper towel ready to blot immediately. Keep repeating the steps until no more stain is visible or can be removed. 

  4. Blot 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 and vacuum to lift carpet fibers.

If the stain remains on 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.