How to Remove White Out Stains From Clothes, Carpet, and Hard Surfaces

Correction Fluid
By David Plater UK / Getty Images

"White Out" has become a generic household term for correction fluid. And whether you're using Wite-Out brand or any other type of quick-drying correction fluid, stains can be a problem. Often, they start as a drip or small spill and end up as a bigger problem because it's hard to remove white out without spreading it. The trick to containing and removing the stain is applying an appropriate detergent or stain remover that dissolves the fluid while working from the outside of the stain toward the center to prevent it from spreading.

Because white out dries in seconds, it's difficult to respond to the stain before the fluid dries, and usually this is a good thing. A drop that lands on clothing or other soft or fibrous material easily spreads when it's wet, so it's better to let the stain dry before attacking it. On hard, smooth surfaces, try removing some of the wet fluid without spreading it, using a cotton swab or a pointed utensil to lift the fluid straight up from the surface.

Stain Type Similar to paint
Detergent Type Standard laundry detergent
Wash Temperature Warm

Before You Begin

A variety of cleaners and stain removers are effective on correction fluid, but many of them can also remove color from fabric and other materials. That's why it's important to test any stain remover in an inconspicuous area to make sure it's safe to use on the material.

Once you apply a remover to the dried white out, it will begin to dissolve into a slurry similar to diluted white paint. This is why you should always work from the outside to the center of the stain, to keep the slurry contained as much as possible while you lift it from the surface.

Generally, you have to be more careful with fabric and other soft materials than with hard surfaces. Lubricants like WD-40 work on fabric and carpet, but they're petroleum-based and can leave an oily stain on the material. Acetone can dissolve fabrics containing acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic. Always spot-test first to be sure.

How to Remove White Out Stains From Clothing

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes plus washing time

What You'll Need

  • Cotton swab
  • Adhesive remover or solvent
  • Laundry stain remover
  • Laundry detergent
  1. Apply a Solvent

    Dip a cotton swab into a commercial adhesive remover (such as Motsenbocker's Lift Off) or a household solvent, like rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover (with acetone). Dab the white out stain with the swab, working from the outside of the stain toward the center.

  2. Reapply the Solvent

    Let the treated stain sit for 1 minute, or as directed by the manufacturer, then dab again with a swab and the remover until the white out is dissolved and the stain is mostly gone.

  3. Rinse the Fabric

    Rinse the fabric under warm water. If solid pieces of white out remain, repeat the dabbing process with the remover and swab, then rinse again with warm water.

  4. Pretreat the Stain

    Apply your favorite laundry stain remover to the stained area and let it sit for 15 minutes or as directed.

  5. Wash and Dry

Wash the clothing in warm water, using your regular detergent. Confirm that the white out stain is completely gone before drying the clothing. If there's any doubt, air dry the item, then check again for the stain. Air drying won't set the stain (if any remains) like the heat of the clothes dryer will.

How to Remove White Out Stains From Hard Surfaces

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 minutes

What You'll Need

Supplies:

  • Adhesive remover

Tools:

  • Plastic scraper
  • Rags
  1. Scrape It Off

    Scrape up the dried white out with a plastic scraper or old credit card. Don't use metal tools, which can scratch or gouge the surface.

  2. Hit It With Solvent

    Apply a commercial adhesive remover (such as Motsenbocker's Lift Off) directly to the white out and let it sit for about 1 minute or as directed by the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can use WD-40, rubbing alcohol, or nail polish remover (with acetone), as long as it won't damage or stain the surface.

  3. Wipe It Up

    Wipe up the white out and remover with a clean rag, working from the outside of the stain toward the center. Repeat the same process as needed until the stain is gone.

  4. Clean the Surface

Clean the surface with water or a suitable detergent, wiping with a clean rag. WD-40 and some other products leave an oily residue that should be removed.

How to Remove White Out Stains From Carpet

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes plus drying time

What You'll Need

Supplies:

  • Rubbing alcohol or other solvent

Tools:

  • Spoon
  • Vacuum
  • White cloths
  1. Scrape and Vacuum

    Scrape or scoop up any wet or loose white out, using a spoon. Be sure to work from the outer edges of the stain toward the center, to prevent spreading the stain. Vacuum up all loosened dry material.

  2. Apply a Solvent

    Dampen a clean white cloth with rubbing alcohol, dry cleaning solvent, or a citrus-based stain lifter. Carefully blot the stain with the cloth to remove the white out. You can also twist the carpet strands between your fingers (using the cloth). Repeat with fresh alcohol and a clean area of the cloth until the stain is gone. Do not over-wet the carpet or pour alcohol or other solvent directly onto the stain because it can damage the carpet backing.

  3. Blot to Rinse

    Remove the alcohol by blotting with a clean cloth dampened with plain water or club soda. Water or club soda won't damage the carpet or backing, but it's best not to saturate the carpet; patiently blot instead.

  4. Vacuum to Fluff

Vacuum the carpet to fluff the fibers, and let the carpet dry completely before walking on it.

Try Some Dish Soap

If traces of white out remain after treating the carpet with alcohol or other solvent, try blotting with a solution of 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap and 2 cups of warm water. Let the solution work for 5 minutes, then rinse by blotting with plain water or club soda.

White out is essentially a type of paint. It sticks to most surfaces and is quite stable when dry, but it can be broken down with a number of solutions. When stains are resistant, such as when the white out gets into carpet fibers or textured surfaces, approach the stain with patience. Apply a remover or solvent that is safe for the stained material, and pick away at the stain to break it down and remove tiny bits at a time. Eventually, the stain will get smaller and smaller until it vanishes. Just keep working at it carefully so you don't damage the underlying surface or material.