How to Remove Highlighter Stains From a Couch

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Cunaplus_M.Faba/iStock/GettyImages

Your couch may be the focal point of the room, but you probably don't want to literally highlight it. A strategically placed pillow or throw blanket can provide a temporary cover for stray highlighter stains, but you can permanently remove highlighter marks from a couch once you understand what highlighters are made of as well as the material composition of your couch.


General Highlighter Stain Removal Tips

Most highlighters get their bright color from a dye compound called fluorescein. The good news is that fluorescein ink in highlighters is water soluble rather than oil-based, so you'll have a significantly better chance of getting an unwanted highlighter mark out with a gentle cleanser.


Video of the Day

However, it's imperative to know the material of the couch you're treating before you apply any type of cleanser. No matter how confident you are in how your cleanser will react to your couch, always spot test in an inconspicuous area before applying it to the highlighter stain.

Removing Highlighter From Leather

Since highlighter marks are water soluble, you should be able to swipe away any errant marks with a few household ingredients. Wet a sponge with a gentle nondetergent soap and room-temperature water. Rub the sponge into the highlighter mark with gentle pressure. Follow behind with a moist cloth to wipe away any soap suds and residue. Finish the process with a dry, soft cloth.


Keep in mind that some couches, both leather and fibrous, come with designations like "S," "W," and "S/W." "S" means avoid water-based cleansing methods, such as the one above, at all costs. This material requires the use of dry solvents or must be taken to the dry cleaner. "W" material cannot be cleaned with solvents, only water-based shampoos. And "S/W" means that both solvents and water-based cleansers may be applied. Contact the manufacturer if you're unclear about your couch's designation.


Cleaning Polyester, Wool, and Nylon

If your couch fibers are any blend of polyester, nylon, and wool, then you can use the same stain removal method that you would use on carpet, which is often composed of the same material. Begin with an ink spot remover of your choice. Apply the spot remover on a cloth and blot it into the highlighted area. Using a white cloth will allow you to see how much of the ink you're picking up and avoid color transfer. You may need to blot using medium pressure until the area is saturated with the remover.


Using a portable vacuum or your vacuum's hose attachment, vacuum over the cleansed area to pick up any color that hasn't settled. Repeat this process until the stain has fully lifted.

Lifting Highlighter From Microfiber

As always, first check the cleaning code designated to your microfiber couch. If it's an "S" and therefore should not be treated with water, then reach for the rubbing alcohol. Fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spray it directly onto the highlighter stain. To avoid any color transfer, use a white cloth to blot out the stain. Continue blotting until the stain has disappeared. Once dry, comb out any stiffness in the microfiber with a soft-bristle brush.


A microfiber couch with a "W" designation should be cleaned with a mild soap and water solution. Blot the solution into the highlighter mark with a white cloth until the area is saturated. Follow up with a clean, damp cloth to clear the suds. Repeat this process as necessary until the highlighter is gone.



Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...