Just because you or your kid had a slip-up with a permanent marker doesn't mean the affected piece of clothing or household item is doomed for the trash heap. In fact, a few common household products are true superstars at getting rid of pesky ink stains. The main thing to know is, as with most types of stains, time is of the essence! Your odds of total stain elimination skyrocket if the item is treated soon after the offense takes place with one of the following helpful remedies.
Prior to applying any of these cleaning hacks, test the substance on a part of the clothing that's inconspicuous, just in case the fabric is ultra-sensitive. Here are some time-tested ways to remove permanent marker from clothes.
Hairspray is a commonly used tool to remove ink and permanent marker from clothing, although some of its effectiveness has waned over the years. Many brands have changed their formulations to reduce or eliminate alcohol, so read the label before plunking down payment. Any hairspray that's labeled "alcohol-free" is not going to get the job done. The best brands for this purpose are the cheap, aerosol ones high in alcohol content, which is what actually gets the stain out.
Keep in mind, hairspray is not suitable for a permanent marker stain on all surfaces. It generally works best for stains in polyester or poly-blend clothes and most cotton or denim fabrics. It should never be used on leather or wool [source: Groth].
To use hairspray to get permanent marker mishaps out of clothing, follow these simple steps:
- Place the garment on a flat, hard surface with a clean cloth or towel underneath the stained part of the clothing. This will help to absorb the treatment measures and any ink that comes out.
- Soak a cotton ball with hairspray, then press it firmly against the stain.
- Repeatedly blot the stain with the cotton ball as needed. If it works, you should notice the stain transferring from the garment to the cotton ball.
- Continue as long as is necessary, replacing the cotton ball when it gets dirty. Once the stain is fully removed, wash the garment as indicated on the label.
Run-of-the-mill rubbing alcohol is another extremely effective way to remove marker stains. This is because it's an excellent degreaser, able to break down oily stains better than many other cleaners. If you have a handy bottle of 70/30 rubbing alcohol (that is, 70 percent isopropyl alcohol and 30 percent water), it could be just the solvent you're looking for to get rid of tough marker stains [source: Ecolink]. To use:
- Place the stain face down on top of some paper towels.
- Dip a cloth or sponge in rubbing alcohol and dab first around the stain, then directly on it. You should see the ink transfer to the paper towel underneath the stain.
- Change the paper towel often so that the paper can absorb the color.
- After the stain is removed, wash the clothing as directed in the washing machine.
The high alcohol content of hand sanitizer makes it an effective ink stain remover, much in the same way that rubbing alcohol and hairspray are. It's likely you have a bottle in your pocket or purse, making it an easy way to spot-clean something. Here's how to use it [source: Prahl]:
- Apply hand sanitizer (about the size of a dime) to the stain.
- Rub the gel in, using a circular motion.
- Blot with a clean towel, then repeat as needed.
- Rinse the piece with clean water, then launder as the tag specifies.
This is a gentler method for fabrics (like leather) that can't handle alcohol:
- Apply white vinegar to a cotton ball or cloth.
- Dab the stain and wait five minutes.
- Blot the area, replacing the cloth as needed until all the stain is removed.
- Launder the garment per the tag's instructions.
Of course, more items are susceptible to permanent markers besides clothes. Keep reading to find out how to get permanent marker out of common household items.