How to Get Sharpie Out of Clothes: A Comprehensive Guide


We’ve all been there – that sudden moment of panic when you realize that a sharpie has leaked onto your shirt or pants. Sharpie stains are notorious for being tough to remove and can leave a permanent mark on clothes if not treated quickly. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to get Sharpie out of clothes, offering solutions from prevention to DIY remedies and expert tips.

The “Magic” Solution

One of the most effective and widely-used solutions for removing Sharpie stains from clothes is rubbing alcohol. The key is to act quickly and apply rubbing alcohol to the stain as soon as possible. Here’s how to do it:

  • Place the clothing item on a flat surface with a clean cloth underneath the stain, so it does not transfer to other parts of the garment.
  • Pour rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth. Alternatively, soak the stained area in a bowl of rubbing alcohol.
  • Rub the stain gently in a circular motion until it dissolves, being careful not to damage the fabric.
  • Wash the garment in the washing machine with mild detergent and cold water.
  • Check the stain before drying the clothing on a low-heat cycle. If the stain has not disappeared, repeat the process until it does.

It is important to note that rubbing alcohol may damage some fabrics, so it’s best to try this method on a small, hidden area of the clothing item first. If the fabric is delicate, do not use this method, as it will cause further damage to the garment.

To prevent a Sharpie stain from becoming permanent, try not to rub the area too vigorously, as it may spread the ink further into the fabric. Instead, use dabbing motions with a clean cloth to absorb the ink.

The Scientific Approach

Understanding the science behind Sharpie stains can help you choose the right product to remove them. Sharpie ink is oil-based and contains a chemical called xylene, which gives the ink its permanence. There are several household items that can break down the ink and help remove the stain:

  • Nail polish remover containing acetone: Soak the stain in a small amount of nail polish remover, and then blot the area with a clean cloth.
  • Hairspray: Apply hairspray to the stain and let it soak in for five to ten minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
  • Toothpaste: Use a small amount of non-gel toothpaste on the stain rubbing it in with your finger then rinse clean.
  • Milk: Apply a small amount of milk and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before washing the garment with cold water.

The Prevention Method

Preventing Sharpie stains can be as simple as storing Sharpies appropriately. When not in use, keep Sharpies in an upright position with the cap securely fastened. Avoid storing Sharpies near clothing or other easily stained materials to prevent accidental marks. It’s also crucial to discourage kids from using Sharpies on clothes, and to teach them to only use them on paper or other surfaces. If Sharpie marks are still a concern, consider purchasing clothes with darker colors or prints that can help camouflage any accidental marks.

DIY Remedies

If you don’t have rubbing alcohol or other household items available, there are still several DIY remedies that can be effective in removing Sharpie stains:

  • Vinegar: Apply a small amount of vinegar to the stained area and rub with a clean cloth.
  • Baking soda: Make a paste using baking soda and water, apply to the stain and let it sit for 30 minutes before washing.
  • Lemon juice: Apply lemon juice to the stain and let it sit for 5 – 10 minutes before washing the garment.
  • Commercial ink removers: Purchase a product specifically formulated to remove ink stains; these can be found at most grocery or cleaning supply stores. Follow the product instructions for best results.

Expert Tips and Tricks

Experts recommend treating Sharpie stains as soon as they happen to avoid permanent damage to clothes. For optimal results, try using a specialized laundry detergent formulated to remove ink stains. The following brands are widely recommended:

  • Zout Laundry Stain Remover
  • OxiClean Max Force Laundry Stain Remover
  • Fels Naptha Laundry Bar Soap

Some laundry detergents are created with specific fabrics in mind, so be sure to read the label and choose one that is appropriate for the clothing item you are trying to treat.


Sharpie stains on clothes can be frustrating, but with the right approach, they can be effectively removed. Whether using rubbing alcohol, household items, or DIY remedies, acting quickly and safely is key to achieving optimal results. Remember to always test a small, hidden area before trying any stain removal technique and avoid using any method that will cause further damage to the garment. By following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you’ll be able to once again enjoy your favorite clothing items without fear of Sharpie stains.

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