Oops, your kiddo just decided to create an art piece while using the couch as a table. Permanent marker ink decorates the couch cushions, but thankfully, those scribbles aren't always so permanent after all. Regular household substances, such as baking soda, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar, are often all that's needed to remove Sharpie and similar permanent marker ink from upholstery. The sooner you find and treat the marker stains, the easier they are to remove from sofa fabric.
Baking Soda Dry Scrub
Baking soda does so much more than deodorize the fridge. It's also a mild household abrasive for cleaning all sorts of messes, including permanent marker ink on the sofa. Sprinkle an ample amount of baking soda over the permanent ink on the couch and then scrub the area with an old toothbrush, a fingernail brush, or any small, nylon-bristle brush that is soft enough not to harm the upholstery material. If the sofa fabric seems delicate, test the brush on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn't snag or otherwise harm the upholstery material.
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Vacuum the baking soda to remove it from the couch. The marker stains should be lighter after the first scrub. Scrub the area again with a fresh application of baking soda and vacuum again, repeating the process until the ink vanishes. Baking soda also freshens upholstery, so feel free to sprinkle it all over during this project to make the sofa smell better, vacuuming up the powder after 30 minutes or so.
A Vinegar Treatment
Vinegar is another excellent household product for general cleaning, and it's safe enough to use on most upholstery fabrics or even a leather sofa. Pour some white vinegar onto a clean white cloth or a folded paper towel and then gently wipe the ink marks, following the direction of the marker ink. Some of the ink should transfer to the cloth or paper right away; if not, blot the ink spots a little longer with the vinegar or spray a little directly onto the ink, allowing it to sit for a few minutes. Pat the area with a dry cloth to absorb the vinegar and ink.
Rubbing Alcohol Stain Lifter
Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, removes ink from all sorts of upholstery materials. Dab the alcohol onto to the ink stain with a cotton swab, switching to a fresh swab once the ink transfers onto the cotton. This prevents the swab from spreading the ink stain on the upholstery. For larger marker stains, use a soft white cloth or durable paper towels in place of cotton swabs. Blot the treated areas with a dry cloth or paper towel after applying the alcohol to help remove any remaining ink and alcohol.
For a microfiber sofa, pretreat the spot with a dab of hydrogen peroxide first and then gently scrub it with a soft cloth while generally working in the direction of the ink rather than across it. Blot the area again with a fresh cloth and some rubbing alcohol. Press the alcohol into the ink stains, lift the cloth, and then blot again with a dry cloth to remove all the liquid from the sofa. As with any cleaning products, test the peroxide or alcohol on an inconspicuous area before applying it all over the stains to ensure the liquid doesn't damage or discolor the upholstery.