How to Get Permanent Marker Out of Clothes

sharpie marker sharpie marker
Despite the name of the product, there are some ways to get permanent marker out of clothes and home furnishings. padnpen/Thinkstock

Just because you or your kid had a slip-up with permanent marker doesn't mean the affected piece of clothing is doomed for the trash heap. In fact, a few common household products are adept at getting rid of pesky ink stains. 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.


Hairspray is a commonly used tool to remove ink and permanent marker from clothing, although some of its effectiveness has waned over the years. The best brands for this purpose are the cheap ones high in alcohol content, which is what actually gets the stain out. Many brands have changed their formulations in recent years to reduce or eliminate alcohol. Also, hairspray generally works best for stains in polyester or poly-blend clothes. To use, 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. If possible, select a hairspray with a pump, rather than an aerosol sprayer. 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.

Rubbing alcohol

Run-of-the-mill rubbing alcohol is an extremely effective way to remove permanent marker stains, too. 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.


Milk isn't just for cereal and shakes. It's also a handy, easy way to eliminate ink and permanent marker stains from clothing. Simply place the garment in a bowl, fill it with enough milk to cover the stain and allow to soak overnight. Repeat as needed with fresh milk, then launder the stain-free garment as appropriate.

Of course, more items are susceptible to permanent markers besides clothes. Keep reading to find out how to get permanent marker stains out of common household items.