How to Remove White-Out Stains From Clothes and Hard Surfaces

How to Remove White-Out Stains From Clothing

The Spruce / Joules Garcia

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hr, 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 20

"White-out" has become a generic household term for correction fluid. And whether you're using the 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 is to contain the fluid by working from the outside of the stain toward the center to prevent it from spreading. It is better to let the stain dry before attacking it. However, on hard, smooth surfaces, you can use a cotton swab or a pointed utensil to lift the wet fluid straight from the surface. Removing white-out stains from clothing and hard surfaces takes a bit of patience and care, but it can be done, and with materials that you might already have on hand at home.

Stain type Chemical-based
Detergent type Regular
Water temperature Warm
Cycle type Varies depending on the type of fabric 

Before You Begin

A variety of cleaners and stain removers are effective in removing correction fluid, but many of them can also remove the 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; as it will 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 such as WD-40 work on fabric, but they're petroleum-based and can leave an oily stain on the material. Always spot-test first to be sure.

Acetone can dissolve acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic fabrics. Always check the clothing's care label to see what material it is made of and how to care for it. If it is made of any of these fabrics or is dry clean only, take it to a professional dry cleaner and let them remove the stain.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

Clothing

  • Cotton Swab

Hard Surfaces

  • Plastic scraper
  • Rags

Materials

Clothing

  • Adhesive remover or solvent
  • Laundry stain remover
  • Laundry detergent

Hard Surfaces

  • Adhesive remover

Instructions

materials for removing a white out stain
The Spruce / Cielito Vivas

How to Remove White-Out From Clothing

  1. Apply a Solvent

    • Dip a cotton swab into a commercial adhesive remover (such as Motsenbocker's Lift Off) or a household solvent, such as 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.

    Warning

    Do not rub the white-out stain, or it will spread out and become a larger one. Dab only!

    dabbing a garment with a cotton swab
    The Spruce / Cielito Vivas 
  2. Reapply the Solvent

    • Let the treated stain sit for one minute, or as directed by the manufacturer.
    • Dab again with a swab and the remover until the white-out is dissolved and the stain is mostly gone.
    used cotton swabs and stain on garment
    The Spruce / Cielito Vivas 
  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.

    rinsing the affected garment under water
    The Spruce / Cielito Vivas 
  4. Pretreat the Stain

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

    treating the stain with laundry detergent
    The Spruce / Cielito Vivas 
  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.

    Warning

    Make sure the stain is gone before putting in a dryer, as the heat from the dryer will set the stain into the clothing, making it harder to get out, if not becoming a permanent stain.

    hand-washing the stained garment
    The Spruce / Cielito Vivas  

How to Remove White-Out From Hard Surfaces

If white-out gets on hard surfaces, like a countertop or floor, you can remove it with this method and these materials.

  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.

    White out scraped from wood surface with credit card

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  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 one 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.

    WD-40 sprayed on white-out to remove from wood surface

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  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.

    White-out wiped with clean rag from wood surface

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

  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.

    Wood surface cleaned with rag and detergent from residue

    The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Additional Tips for Handling a White-Out Stain

If you find traces of white-out remain after treating the carpet with alcohol or another solvent there is another option you can try to remove the stain.

  • Blot with a solution of one teaspoon of liquid dish soap and two cups of warm water.
  • Let the solution work for five minutes.
  • Rinse by blotting with plain water or club soda.