How to Get Sharpie Out of Clothing

Most of us have, at some point, found ourselves needing to remove Sharpie (or other permanent markers) stains. These stains can happen at any time despite our best efforts to be mindful and careful. If you have kids, you are most likely no stranger to permanent marker stains and the challenge they pose to remove from clothing. But how do you successfully get them out?

Below you will find a list of our quick and easy methods to remove Sharpie from clothing. We’ve chosen these methods for their effectiveness as well as their safety for you and your family.

Before starting:

Please read the following safety tips and tricks before you start the cleaning process.

  1. Some of these methods include the use of detergent. For safety reasons, cleaning should not be done around children and pets. Always clean in a well-ventilated area.
  2. If you will be using detergent, move to a location that has a window that can open to ventilate fumes.
  3. Before applying any type of substance to your clothes, carefully read both the tags and the information on the bottle to prevent damage.
  4. Always perform a test before attempting to clean the stain: apply a tiny amount of detergent or substance to a hidden part of your clothing. If it comes off fine and doesn’t stain, you can proceed.
  5. When using rubbing alcohol, it’s recommended that you dilute it: 1 part alcohol, 2 parts water.

Quick and easy ways to clean and remove sharpie marks from your clothes

Permanent marker stains are thankfully not as permanent as the name might suggest, and you can still salvage your favorite clothes.

The key to getting rid of stains is to act fast, preferably before the ink has run dry. Luckily, even dried stains are possible to clean!

Method #1: Using coconut oil to remove Sharpie

Time: 10 minutes

Required items: coconut oil, liquid dish soap, a wet cloth

This is a safe method that will be most successful if used quickly.

  1. If the stain is still wet, dab away excess Sharpie with a clean cloth.
  2. Start by mixing a small amount of coconut oil and liquid dish soap together.
  3. Apply the mixture to the stained area.
  4. Rub it into the clothing. Use vigorous movements, but not too hard – you don’t want to accidentally damage your clothes.
  5. Leave it to sit for about five minutes.
  6. Using a wet cloth, clean all of the coconut oil and dish soap.
  7. Air-dry the affected clothes.
  8. If the stain persists, please move on to our other methods.

Method #2: Using milk to remove Sharpie

Time: 20 minutes + a wash in the washing machine

Required items: a basin, large amounts of milk

This method is incredibly simple, but it will not work on every stain.

  1. Pour milk into the basin.
  2. Submerge the stain in the milk.
  3. As the permanent marker seeps from the clothing into the milk, replace the milk.
  4. You will have to repeat this several times for the stain to disappear.
  5. Once you’ve removed all or most of the stain, wash your clothing in the washing machine.

Method #3: Using hand sanitizer to remove Sharpie

Time: 10 minutes + a wash in the washing machine

Required items: alcohol-based hand sanitizer, baking powder, lemon juice, a sponge or a soft-bristle brush, cotton wad

This method is effective and easy. However, remember to first perform a stain test before you attempt this.

  1. If the Sharpie is still wet, dab it lightly with a clean cloth or a paper towel.
  2. Apply a small amount of hand sanitizer to the stain and rub it in.
  3. Let it sit for about five minutes, then dry the remains with your cotton wad.
  4. Pour some baking powder onto the stain, then add a little lemon juice.
  5. The mixture should foam, so using your sponge or soft-bristle brush, rub it into the stain.
  6. Clean with cold water. Next put it into the washing machine.

Method #4: Using rubbing alcohol to remove Sharpie

Time: 10 minutes of cleaning time + a wash in the washing machine

Required items: clean microfiber cloth, rubbing alcohol. Alternatively: alcohol-based hairspray or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Rubbing alcohol and other alcohol-based solvents are very effective at removing Sharpie stains, as they break down oils and other alcohols in permanent markers. This method will be effective on most stains. Please perform this method in a ventilated area or near an open window.

  1. If the marker stain is still wet, attempt to remove all of the excess ink by blotting it with a microfiber cloth. Gently dab – don’t scrub or wipe.
  2. Place the stain face down on a few paper towels.
  3. Apply rubbing alcohol directly to the clothing until the whole area becomes wet. Replace paper towels as needed as the Sharpie transfers from your clothing onto the paper.
  4. Leave the substance on the clothing for around 15 minutes.
  5. Warning: keep the windows open to ventilate the area, especially if you are using hairspray.
  6. If the stain is dry, apply a little more rubbing alcohol to it.
  7. While the stain is still wet, put your clothing in the washing machine. It’s recommended that you don’t mix it with other clothes to avoid any ink transfer.

What’s next?

Sharpie stains, while entirely possible to remove, are definitely not the easiest to deal with.

If, despite using our methods, you find that your clothing is still stained, consider buying a professional detergent and follow the guidelines on the label. However, if even that does not help, please consult a dry cleaner.

Even if the dry cleaner is unable to help and the stain remains, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean an end to your favorite shirt or dress.

Depending on the style of clothing, you might be able to sew something on top of the stain. Especially when it comes to your children–a little flower or a Superman logo will not just hide the stain, but it will also make your kids happy.

If you should ever have trouble with removing Sharpie stains in the future, remember to act fast. The sooner you begin the cleaning process, the higher the chance that you will be able to clean the stain completely.