How to Get Out Permanent-Marker Stains

Stains are frustrating — especially when dealing with something that includes "permanent" in its name. Getting out this mark was a serious challenge we couldn't resist. After searching for tried-and-tested solutions, even suggestions from Sharpie for tackling permanent-marker stains, we gave several a chance at removing the stain.

Hair Spray

Just like with removing lipstick stains, hair spray came highly recommended for treating this stain. We placed the denim and cotton heart-marked fabrics over a folded paper towel, then spritzed another folded paper towel with hair spray and gently dabbed the material. Lots and lots of the permanent marker started coming up from the fabric, but then started restaining the material, creating a big, sticky mess. Then we tried spritzing the entire piece of fabric and dabbing with a fresh piece of paper towel, but the stain still persisted.

Rubbing Alcohol

Another highly recommended solution for this challenging stain included the same process as the hair spray with rubbing alcohol instead. Once again, the mark started lifting, but the rubbing alcohol didn't really seem to do much damage to the permanent marker. We continued working the stain using fresh paper towels, but after 20 minutes (and a headache from the fumes), the fabric was left to soak in the rubbing alcohol.


While searching for solutions, the Sharpie website suggested treating stains as soon as possible by flipping and pretreating from the back of the stain. We followed the directions and let the stain soak overnight to see if it cleared the marks.


That's right, milk. Supposedly, a good soak in milk helps remove the mark from fabrics without any harsh chemicals. We placed each square of permanent-marker-stained cloth in a small dish of milk, giving it a good squeeze every few minutes. The milk did take on a darker tinge, but after 30 minutes of squeezing, there wasn't much change in the marks.

Before Washing

Before tossing the permanent-marker-stained squares in the wash, we gave each a marking with red permanent marker so we could keep track of which solution worked best. None looked like the cleaning suggestions had performed as claimed, so we were excited to see how they faired after washing.

The Results

As you can see, none of the cleaning suggestions really did the job. Bummer!

We're still on the hunt for how to get out permanent-marker stains. If you have the winning solution, please let us know in the comments below!