How to Get Magic Marker Stains out of Clothes

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Things You'll Need

  • Cold water

  • Hairspray

  • Rubbing alcohol

  • Cloth or rag

  • Clear nail polish remover

They call them "permanent markers" for a reason: clothing stains resulting from a permanent or magic marker can be some of the hardest stains to remove. Don't say goodbye to your favorite shirt yet, though. While some permanent marker stains may never come out, there are some at-home remedies you can try to salvage your stained clothing. Remember to act as soon as possible on the stain; if you can get to the stain before it dries, you greatly increase your chance of success.

Step 1

Rinse the clothing in cold water from the back of the stain to the front to wash out some of the ink stain.

Step 2

Saturate the stain with hair spray. Let the hairspray sit for about a minute to work on the stain, and then rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Step 3

Soak a plain white cloth in rubbing alcohol, and dab the alcohol onto the stain. Apply alcohol until the stain is saturated. Let the alcohol stand for at least thirty minutes so that it has time to work on the stain. Rinse thoroughly with cold water.

Step 4

Soak a plain white cloth in clear nail polish remover, and apply to the stain. Let stand for at least ten minutes, and then rinse thoroughly. Repeat as needed until the stain is removed.


Always spot-test chemicals such as acetone (nail polish remover) or any specialized cleaner you try to use on an unseen part of the garment to be sure it will not cause color fading or more staining.


When working with large amounts of aerosols such as hair spray, be sure to work in a well-ventilated area.


Samantha Volz

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.