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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Sharpie® Stain

By Dr. Laundry January 18, 2012

Q: Have a stain from a Sharpie®, how do I remove it?

A:  Sharpie® pens are generally permanent, so it may be difficult to get the stain out.  That said, if you start by pre-treating the stain with a little bit of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to begin breaking up the ink, you will increase your chances of success.  Just squirt a little onto the stain and rub it in.  Usually the stain will spread out into the hand sanitizer – after a few minutes, rinse the stain, and then pre-treat it again depending on what color and type of fabric the item is:


  • For white items (but not wool, silk, mohair, leather, spandex, and linen):  rub the stain with Clorox® Bleach Pen Gel and then wash immediately in the hottest water recommended on the item’s care label using detergent + 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach.  Air dry the item, but do not put it in a hot dryer!  This is very important since a stain like this can require repeating the treatment to remove it fully, so you want to avoid heat-setting the stain in a hot dryer.

  • For colored items:  apply liquid Clorox2® Stain Remover and Color Booster directly to the stain and rub in.  Wait 5 minutes and then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label using detergent and more Clorox2®.  Air dry the item and check for success; repeat the treatment as needed for complete removal.


With the school season back in full swing – do any other readers have difficult pen, marker or highlighter stains that need to be removed?