How to Remove Permanent Marker From Cloth

Updated April 17, 2017

Permanent markers are useful for certain tasks, but if the label says "permanent," it holds true. Removing permanent marker from cloth or fabric can be difficult if you do not use the right stain remover. Most laundry products will not work on permanent maker stains, especially the vibrant, dark colours such as red, blue and black.

Treat the permanent marker spot as soon as possible. Place the cloth onto a old towel or rag and test the fabric by applying a small amount of acetone to a hidden area to make sure the colour is not affected by the chemical. If the colour is not affected, pour some acetone directly on the marker.

Rub the acetone into the cloth by blotting with a clean rag or gently brushing the stained area with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Work the acetone into the cloth and over the stain until the permanent marker disappears.

Rinse the cloth or fabric in lukewarm or cold water to wash out the permanent marker colour.

Repeat the process if there are still traces of marker present.

Spray a pre-spot treatment on the area where the marker was present. Wash the fabric as directed.


Rinse the acetone out of the fabric immediately after treating the stain in order to make sure the colour in the fabric does not fade or change. If acetone is not working, then you can try some rubbing alcohol to treat the permanent marker stain. Permanent marker on cloth has also been removed successfully with hairspray. Spray the hairspray liberally on the stained area and blot with a towel or rag until the permanent marker lifts off of the fabric. Fabric upholstery can be cleaned with a liquid hand dishwashing detergent, vinegar and water mixture. Just blot the solution onto the upholstery with a clean towel and continue blotting until the marker disappears. If the first solution does not work, try adding rubbing alcohol.


Always use caution when working with harsh chemicals. Keep the acetone, rubbing alcohol and hair spay out of the reach of children.

Things You'll Need

  • Old towel or rag
  • Acetone (fingernail polish remover)
  • Pre-spot treatment
  • Detergent
  • Soft-bristled toothbrush
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About the Author

Milenna Russell has a Bachelor's degree in mass communications from the University of Utah. She has been a freelance writer since 2004 and writes for several web-content sites including Lifetips, Ehow and Associated Content.