Removing permanent marker ink from your clothing can seem like quite the disaster, especially on light-colored clothing. But you shouldn’t have to throw out your favorite beige shirt simply because it got stained with a little permanent ink.

Permanent ink is not all that permanent. It can be dissolved by a host of solvents. Before you start racking your brains, rest assured that the solution may be as simple as your hand sanitizer or hair spray. Similar methods are used to remove permanent marker ink from dry-erase boards.


before and after using rubbing alcohol

That being said, getting permanent ink stains out of clothing is not child’s play. Different brands of markers may have different formulations of permanent ink. The success of the cleaning agent will depend on the chemical formulation of the ink as well as how well the ink adheres to different fabrics.

While you can spend a good amount of money to buy specialized ink removers, spot cleaning can be done at home with some simple agents before laundering the clothing as usual.

When using any solvent-based cleaner, place paper towels underneath and on top of the fabric. Solvents reactivate the ink, which dissolves and starts spreading with the solvent. The paper towels will absorb the solvent as well as the ink.


So, go ahead and give these four methods a try to remove permanent marker from your clothing.

Method 1: Use Hair Spray

before and after using hair spray

Solvents constitute more than half of the generic hair spray formulations. This makes hair spray one of the handiest cleaning agents to tackle accidental permanent marker stains.

Be sure to use an alcohol-based hair spray. Alcohol-free hair sprays might keep your hair from drying out, but they won’t remove permanent marker stains from your clothing.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use hair spray to remove permanent marker from clothes

  • Hair spray, alcohol-based (acts as a solvent)
  • Paper towels

Step 1. Spray hair spray on the ink stain

spray hair spray on the ink

  • Place a folded paper towel under the permanent marker stain.
  • Spritz hair spray on the stain, saturating it completely.

Step 2. Blot the stain with paper towels

blot the stain with paper towel

  • Place a folded paper towel over the stain and press down firmly.
  • Lift the paper towel to assess the progress.
  • A single attempt will not remove the ink. Repeat spraying and blotting until the stain is completely removed.
  • Replace soiled paper towels with clean ones as needed, so you’re not pressing an ink-soaked paper towel onto the clothing you are trying to clean.
  • Launder the clothing as usual when you’ve removed as much of the stain as you can.

final remove permanent marker with hair spray

Method 2: Use Rubbing Alcohol

before and after using rubbing alcohol


Isopropyl alcohol, also called rubbing alcohol, is another solvent that you can use to reactivate the permanent marker ink and remove it from your clothing.

Rubbing alcohol is a multipurpose cleaning agent and quite easy to get your hands on. You can get it from your local drug store or even online. Undiluted rubbing alcohol should be used for best results.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from clothes

  • Rubbing alcohol (acts as a solvent)
  • Paper towels

Step 1. Pour rubbing alcohol on the stain

pour rubbing alcohol on the cloth

  • Put a folded paper towel directly underneath the stain.
  • Pour a little rubbing alcohol on the stain.

Step 2. Blot the stain with paper towels

blot the stain with paper towel

  • As the ink starts dissolving and spreading, cover it with a folded paper towel and press down firmly to absorb the ink.
  • Examine the progress and repeat the process until the entire stain is removed.
  • Keep using clean paper towels over and under the stained area, so you’re not pressing ink-stained paper towels onto the fabric.
  • Once the stain is mostly gone, wash and dry the clothing as you would normally do.

final remove permanent marker from cloth with rubbing alcohol

Method 3: Use Baking Soda

bedore and after using baking soda

You can also try baking soda to get rid of permanent marker stains as it is an efficient cleaning agent. Baking soda itself is an abrasive cleaning agent and you’ll need to do some hard scrubbing for this. So use this method only if the stained clothing is made of sturdy fabric, as delicate fabric may get damaged with a baking soda scrub.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need to use baking soda to remove permanent marker from clothes

  • Baking soda (stain remover and abrasive cleaning agent)
  • Water
  • Cleaning brush

Step 1. Make a baking soda paste

make a baking soda paste

  • Put some baking soda into a small bowl and add a little water to it.
  • Mix it into a thin, lump-free paste.

Step 2. Treat the stain with the paste

apply the paste on the stain

  • Cover the permanent marker stain with a thick layer of the baking soda paste.
  • Let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Step 3. Scrub out the stain

scrub out the stain

  • Scrub the stain with any cleaning brush you have handy.
  • You may need to put in a little work, but keep scrubbing for a considerable while.
  • Put the clothing into the wash as usual to get any remaining stain out.

final remove permanent marker with baking soda

Method 4: Use Hand Sanitizer

before and after using hand sanitizer

Reach for that bottle of hand sanitizer to get permanent ink out of your clothing. If you’ve ever removed your nail polish with hand sanitizer, you know that it’s quite multipurpose. Although if you use a bottle of alcohol-free hand sanitizer, you may be out of luck. Only an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can act as a solvent to dissolve the permanent ink.

Single-Step Method: Treat the ink stain with hand sanitizer

apply hand sanitizer on the stain and blot with paper towel

  • Squirt a little hand sanitizer on the permanent marker stain.
  • Blot the stain with paper towel which will absorb the solvent along with the ink.
  • Repeat as needed until you get most of the stain out.
  • Wash and dry the clothing as usual after spot treating the stain with hand sanitizer.

final remove permanent marker with hand sanitizer



  • Always do a patch test in an inconspicuous area before using any method to remove permanent ink stains from your clothing. If there is any discoloring and damage, try another method.
  • Clothing labeled as ‘dry clean only’ should not be laundered at home.
  • While working with the solvents, keep them away from your face, especially your eyes and nose.

Summary of How to Remove Permanent Marker from Clothes

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Clothes Summary

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