How to Remove Graphite and Pencil Lead Stains

By: Editors of Consumer Guide  | 

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead stains­.
Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead stains­.
Dale Wilson/Getty Images

­Pencils are great because they allow you to go back and make changes to what you've written. The marks they leave on surfaces other than paper can be a different story. Follow these tips to erase graphite and pencil lead stains.

The first step in removing graphite and pencil lead stains is to identify the stained material.­­­

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­Below are the most common types of materials that can become graphite-stained, with steps on how to remove graphite and pencil lead stains from each:

  • Non-washable fabrics such as Acetate, Burlap, Carpet (synthetic or wool), Rayon, Silk, Triacetate or Wool
  • Washable fabrics such as Acrylic Fabric, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester or Spandex
  • Hard surfaces such as Acrylic Plastic, Aluminum, Asphalt, Bamboo, Cane, Ceramic Glass/Tile, Cork, Ivory, Linoleum, Marble, Paint (gloss), Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Porcelain Dishes, Porcelain Fixtures, Stainless Steel, Vinyl Clothing, Vinyl Tile or Vinyl Wallcovering
  • Stone surfaces such as Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Slate or Terrazzo
  • Grout
  • Leather or suede
  • Paint (flat) or wallpaper
  • Silver
  • Wood

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Non-washable Fibers

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead stains from Acetate, Burlap, Fiberglass, Rayon, Rope, Silk, Triacetate, or Wool:

  • Use a soft eraser to remove the excess stain, being careful not to distort the fabric.
  • Spray on a dry-cleaning solvent and apply a dry spotter.
  • Rub in the dry spotter with an absorbent pad moistened with dry spotter.
  • Cover the stain with a pad, also dampened with dry spotter, and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Spray again with the dry-cleaning solvent and allow to dry. If any stain remains, sponge area with water and apply a wet spotter plus a few drops of ammonia (do not use ammonia on silk and wool).
  • Tamp (the method of bringing a brush down with light strokes on stained durable fabrics and materials) or scrape (the method of using a dull tool to gently lift off excess solid or caked-on stains) the area to loosen the stain.
  • Flush (the method of applying stain remover to loosen staining material and residue from stain removers) with water and repeat if necessary.
  • Allow fabric to air dry.

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Washable Fabrics

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil stains from Acrylic Fabric, Cotton, Linen, Modacrylic, Nylon, Olefin, Polyester or Spandex:

  • Use a soft eraser to remove any excess stain.
  • Rub a little liquid detergent into the stain and add a few drops of ammonia.
  • Tamp gently, then flush with water to remove all traces of ammonia.
  • Launder as soon as possible.

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Hard Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead from Acrylic Plastic, Aluminum, Asphalt, Bamboo, Cane, Ceramic Glass/Tile, Cork, Ivory, Linoleum, Marble, Paint (gloss), Plexiglas, Polyurethane, Porcelain Dishes, Porcelain Fixtures, Stainless Steel, Vinyl Clothing, Vinyl Tile, Vinyl Wallcovering:

  • Remove any excess marks with a soft eraser.
  • Wipe the surface with a cloth or sponge dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • Rinse well with water and wipe dry.

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Stone Surfaces

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead from Bluestone, Brick, Concrete, Flagstone, Granite, Limestone, Slate, Terrazzo:

  • Wash the stain with a solution of washing soda and water.
  • Scrub with a cloth or soft-bristled brush.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clear water and allow to dry.

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Grout

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead from grout:

  • Wipe the surface with a cloth dipped in warm sudsy water.
  • If any stain remains, dip a wet toothbrush into baking soda or powdered cleanser and gently scrub the spot.
  • Rinse well and wipe dry with a soft cloth.

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Leather or Suede

Follow these steps to remove graphite or pencil lead from leather or suede:

  • Mix a solution of mild soap in lukewarm water. Swish to create a great volume of suds.
  • Apply only the foam with a sponge. Wipe with a clean dry cloth.
  • On leather only, follow with cleaners such as Tannery Vintage Leather Cleaner & Conditioner or Fiebing's Saddle Soap.

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Paint or Wallpaper

Follow these steps to remove graphite or pencil lead from paint or wallpaper:

  • Use a suede stone or a soft eraser to remove as many marks as possible.
  • With a clean cloth dampened with clear water, wipe the surface with overlapping strokes.
  • Gently pat dry with another soft cloth.

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Silver

Follow these steps to remove graphite or pencil lead from silver:

  • Wash as soon as possible in hot sudsy water.
  • Rinse in hot water and dry immediately with a soft cloth to prevent tarnish.

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Wood

Follow these steps to remove graphite and pencil lead from wood:

  • Use a soft eraser to remove any excess marks.
  • Mix dishwashing detergent in hot water and swish to make a great volume of suds. Dip a cloth in only the foam and apply to the stain.
  • Rinse with a clean cloth dampened with clear water.
  • Polish or wax as soon as possible.

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Originally Published: Mar 27, 2006

Remove Pencil FAQS

How do you remove pencil marks?
The easiest way to remove pencil marks from surfaces is by using a pencil eraser. You can also use an all purpose cleaner or baby wipes. Depending on the surface, a liquid detergent could also be used to remove the marks made by a pencil.
How do you remove pencil marks from plywood?
Regardless of the thickness of the plywood, all you have to do is dab a soft cloth or cotton in denatured alcohol and wipe off the stains. The alcohol helps evaporate the graphite, which removes the stain.
Will a Magic Eraser remove pencil marks from a wall?
A Magic Eraser is just the thing you need to remove pencil marks not only from walls, but also from many other surfaces where it would be difficult to remove the pencil marks with a normal eraser.
Will pencil marks wash out?
Since pencil marks are made of lead and graphite, there is no ink involved, which makes it even easier to remove pencil stains from surfaces.
How do you remove pencil marks without an eraser?
If you want to remove a pencil mark but do not have an eraser on you, you can also use rubber bands. However, not all rubber bands work in the same way so you will have to use the right ones.

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