How to remove permanent marker from clothes

By | July 14, 2016

Removing permanent marker stains

Permanent markers has special ink that is formulated to stick strongly on whatever surface it is applied on. Even on clothes, they create a very strong and persistent mark that is generally impossible to remove with regular detergent or soap.

Regular detergents contain alkaline substances, enzymes and surfactants, all of which have no effect on permanent marker stains.

But surprisingly they are not that permanent as they appear to be. Special chemicals can lift off the stain almost instantly. Its about chemical science.

Things that can clean permanent markers include paint thinners like turpentine, alcohol, organic solvents like acetone (nail polish remover) etc.

1. Rubbing alcohol

The first thing to try is rubbing alcohol. Alcohol can dissolve the chemicals present in permanent marker, lifting out the stain.

Spray rubbing alcohol on the stain and sponge it. The stain should loosen out and absorb into the sponge. Keep doing till all of the stain has been removed.

Once the stain has been completely lifted, rinse with water and launder as usual with detergent.

2. Hair Spray

Hair Spray contains a lot of alcohol and works same way as rubbing alcohol. Spray it on the stain and dab with wet sponge or cotton balls.

Try keeping a wet towel below the stained clothe and press against it. This will cause the stain to be absorbed into the towel and away from the fabric.

Apart from hair spray, aftershave lotion also contains a lot of alcohol and you can try that too.
After the stain has been removed, launder as usual.

3. Nail Polish remover

Try a non-acetone nail polish remover. Apply a little on the stain and gently dab with a cotton ball, or rub very gently with finger in a circular motion. Keep doing till the stain is completely removed.

Acetone based nail polish remover can also do the trick. In fact acetone works better in removing permanent marker stains, but there is a downside. Before applying acetone, make sure the fabric does not contain any acetate or triacetate. Acetone will melt fabrics made of acetate. Read the fabric label very carefully. If you are not sure, then better skip nail polish remover.

4. Commercial stain cleaners

There are plenty of commercial stain removers that can lift permanent markers from fabrics. Products like Oxi Clean can get rid of almost any kind of stain including markers.

Extra tips and advice

Permanent marker can also be dissolved using petroleum based thinners or lubricants like WD-40 or heavy oils like turpentine. You can try applying very little of it on the stain and see how it work.

Before using any of the cleaning agents on the stain, you should first try it on some hidden part of the fabric to ensure that it will not cause damage to the fabric or its color. Only after that should you use it on the stain.

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