How to get dry erase marker out of clothes

 It is very frustrating on the first week of school when your child comes home with whiteboard marker stains all over their brand-new uniform. This post shows you how to get dry erase marker out of clothes using ingredients you probably already have at home.

Dry-erase markers are now being used more often because schools are phasing out the old-fashioned chalkboards and replacing them with dry-erase boards. Sometimes you can throw the jumper or shirt in the wash as soon as the kids get home, and the stain will come out. However, it may be more difficult to dislodge if you have a stubborn stain or clothing that has accidentally been put through the dryer. 

girl using dry erase marker pen

Before proceeding, please test the method of choice in an inconspicuous area. Use a tiny part of the garment that is not easily visible:

  • For shirts, test around the armpit area.
  • Apply a small amount of product to the fabric.
  • Allow the product to sit for a while to check for adverse effects.
  • If there are none, you can proceed with the chosen cleaning method from the list below. 

The difference between dry erase and permanent markers.

Permanent markers are designed to stick to certain porous surfaces, so they are made using an acrylic polymer (like acrylic paints) 

Dry-erase markers are designed to be slippy and slidey for non-porous surfaces, so they are made with an oily silicone polymer and are alcohol-based. 

Is Dry Erase Marker Permanent on Clothing?

Removing dry-erase markers from fabric depends on how quickly you tackle the stain. A dry-erase marker is more difficult to remove if you do not treat it straight away or with the proper solvents. Putting the garment through the dryer will make the stain more challenging to remove 

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Why Water will Not Remove Dry Erase Marker Stains

The polymers and solvents in a dry-erase marker are not water-soluble and do not dissolve when soaked in water, making it easier for them to cling to fabric fibers. So, unfortunately, they cannot be removed by just rubbing them with a wet cloth or washing the garment as usual. 

If you want to remove dry-erase marks from clothing, you need something to dissolve the polymers and the solvents, such as:

How to Get Dry Erase Marker Off Clothes

teacher leaning against a dry wipe board in a white blouse

 Alcohol (IPA)

Alcohol will dissolve the pigment in the dyes and help to remove the stain from your clothing. Better known as rubbing alcohol, the higher the concentration of alcohol, the more effective it will be at dissolving the dyes, polymers, and solvents. If you choose this method, you must be patient as you must repeat the technique quite a few times until all the dye has gone.  

  1. Place a clean white paper towel on a flat surface.
  2. Apply the rubbing alcohol on the stain using a cotton bud or a small sponge. Do not rub at the stain, or the dye will transfer to other parts of the garment.
  3. The towel will absorb the stain, so keep moving it underneath to find a clean part to rest your garment on.
  4. Repeat the process until the dry-erase marker stain is no longer visible.
  5. Rinse the garment with clean, warm water.
  6. Launder the fabric normally.
  7. You can give the garment a final vinegar and water rinse if the stain is particularly stubborn. 

Hairspray and hand sanitizer

There are many suggestions to use hairspray or hand sanitizer, which makes perfect sense as they are both alcohol-based. Use the same method above that you would for rubbing alcohol (IPA)

Hand sanitizers usually have approximately 60% alcohol content, which makes it a convenient way to remove dry-erase marker stains from clothes when you’re out or at school in an emergency.

Undiluted hairspray usually contains approximately 50% alcohol. However, many modern brands no longer use alcohol as the main ingredient, so please check the ingredients before using it.

How to get dry-erase marker stains out of clothes without using rubbing alcohol.

Here are some cheap and easy ways to remove those annoying whiteboard marker stains without alcohol.

Murphy’s Oil

Murphy’s oil gets the best results when removing dry-erase markers from clothes. However, it is difficult to get in the UK, but you can purchase it from Amazon here.

Murphy’s soap is oil-based rather than water-based, so it is good at removing dry-erase ink from clothes!

The smell is quite strong, so if you have breathing problems, you may like to wear a mask.

  1. Fold up a clean white absorbent paper towel to lay the garment on. This will help to soak up the stain and any excess murphy’s soap.
  2. Dip a soft brush or an old toothbrush into Murphy Oil.
  3. Apply it to the stain. 
  4. Let the soap sit for a few minutes. 
  5. Gently rub the stain from the outside of the stain to the center with the toothbrush until suds form.
  6. Be careful not to oversoak the stain as it may spread it.  
  7. Keep adding a small amount of Murphy’s Oil if you need to.
  8. Gently rub until the stain fades.
  9. Use clean water and dishwashing solution and gently blot the stain using a sponge until it is completely removed.
  10. Rinse the garment under cool running water to remove any residue.
  11. Wash as directed on the garment label.

Carpet stain remover 

Before using any chemicals, please test first in an inconspicuous area of the clothing. 

  1. Apply a carpet stain remover like this one onto the stain. 
  2. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Rinse the garment with clean cold Water 
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Wash the garment as you would normally, following the washing instructions on the laundry label.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide is one of the ingredients in many oxygen-based stain removers such as vanish and OxiClean. It can help to get a dry marker stain and expo markers out of clothes. 

Hydrogen peroxide changes the chemical structure of the stains and makes them clear or white instead of colored. When using hydrogen peroxide on colored clothing, you should take great care as it may have the same bleaching effect on your garment, so always do a patch test first.

  1. Put the garment in your washing machine.
  2. Select a cold wash cycle.
  3. Use your usual laundry detergent.
  4. Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the prewash section of your detergent drawer.
  5. Wash as usual.
  6. Repeat if required. 
  7. Dry once the stain is not visible. 

Laundry Detergent.

If the stain is fresh and hasn’t yet been laundered or tumble dried, you may find that if you apply laundry detergent neat, directly to the stain, and agitate it with a stiff brush, the stain may fade a little. However, you may need to repeat this process quite a few times before you notice a difference. 

  1. Dampen the garment with clean water.
  2. Cover the stain with a small amount of neat laundry detergent.
  3. Using a stiff brush, rub the stain gently until some suds form.
  4. Keep gently agitating the stain until it fades. 
  5. Rinse well with cool running water.
  6. Launder the garment according to the manufacturer’s label. 

Oxygen-based stain remover.

Products like OxiClean or Vanish alter the molecular structure of the color pigments, which gives the impression that the color has bleached away.

  1. Soak your garment in a water and oxygen bleach solution for a couple of hours.
  2. Rinse the stain under clean, cool water.
  3. Put your garment in the washing machine
  4. Add laundry detergent. 
  5. Add the oxygen stain remover. To find out how much you need, read this post.
  6. During the washing cycle, pause the machine and let the clothes soak for approximately one hour before the rinse cycle. This will gives the stain remover time to work.
  7. Allow the cycle to finish, then dry as usual. 

Toothpaste and baking soda

It’s debatable how effective this combination is, and while it is abrasive, you may find that it takes a lot of work, and you might see no difference. You may also find that it may make the garment pill and bobble as it may damage the fibers, so you should take care before undertaking these steps.

  1. Dampen the stain with cold water.
  2. Dot some toothpaste over the stained area. 
  3. Add approximately half a teaspoon of baking soda to make it more abrasive and like a poultice consistency. 
  4. Rub into the stain. 
  5. Allow the poultice to sit for a few hours or overnight.
  6. Wipe away the poultice or paste.
  7. Rinse the stain under running water. 
  8. Wash as usual.

How to Remove Dry Erase Marker stains from washed Clothes 

child in white school shirt using a whiteboard  marker pen

 As we’ve explained before, it gets much harder to remove dry-erase marker stains from clothes after washing and drying them, so a lot of care and hard work will be needed to remove the stain, and you may need to repeat the method a few times until the stain fades.

The most effective methods to remove a stubborn dry-erase marker stain are:

How to Get dry erase Marker stains Out of Clothes After Drying

Dry-erase marker stains are more permanently set after drying in the tumble dryer. The best methods for getting dried marker stains out of your garment are:

How to Remove Dry Erase Marker from a Fabric Couch

  1. Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the stain using a cotton bud.
  2. Avoid spreading the dye by working outside the stain to the center.
  3. Blot the stain gently until it starts to fade. 
  4. Blot with cold water to rinse.  

How to get dry-erase marker out of white clothes

You may have more success using either hydrogen peroxide or an oxygen-based stain remover like Vanish on white clothes, as they break down the pigments in the dye and make the stain appear white or clear, so it helps to camouflage the stain on the white shirt.

Important to Remember!

  • Treat the stain straight away.
  • Use the correct solvent.
  • Do not wash or dry the stain before you have treated it

Final Thoughts

While it’s very irritating that our kids come home covered in dry-erase marker, the clothes may look as good as new if we treat the stain as soon as possible. Please leave us a note in the comments for any comments, queries, or concerns.

 blue dry erase marker pen


Does dry cleaning remove a permanent marker?

To find out how dry cleaners remove permanent marker stains, read this post

I’m a teacher. Do you have any tips for how to get expo marker out of clothes at school?

Hand sanitizer is a good thing to carry for emergencies as the alcohol content will help to remove the marker stains at work. Remember to rub the stain with a plain white towel or paper towel so you don’t transfer dye from the towel to the stain.

Can a Magic Eraser clean dry-erase boards of old markings and stains?

If you have a stained whiteboard, it can sometimes be fixed by writing over the stain with a fresh whiteboard marker, letting it sit, then using whiteboard spray cleaner to wipe it off. Magic erasers will probably scratch the surface and permanently damage the whiteboard.

Help, can you tell me how to get dry-erase marker out of the carpet? 

Carpet stain remover is probably your best bet for removing dry-erase marker stains from the carpet.

How to get dry erase marker pen out of a fabric chair

Follow the instructions above for getting dry-erase marker out of fabric chairs and sofas.

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