How to Remove Pencil Marks From Cotton Material

Updated March 23, 2017

Cotton is generally a forgiving fabric when it comes to stains, but some are more stubborn than others. Whether your child managed to get pencil marks on some clothing or your quilting marks will not budge, pencil stains can be frustrating to remove. Pencil marks show up more readily on lighter-coloured cotton, but you would be surprised how well they show on black fabrics as well. Few people are aware that although pencils are not permanent, the marks can set permanently in cotton if you do not remove them properly. With a small amount of extra attention, you can remove pencil marks before they set permanently.

Erase the pencil marks carefully with a white art eraser. Darker erasers may stain the fabric permanently, so if you do not have a white eraser use the lightest one you can find.

Mix 1/4 cup water, 3/4 cup rubbing alcohol and a few drops of mild dish soap together.

Dip an old, soft-bristled toothbrush into the cleaning solution and gently scrub at the pencil marks. Be careful not to scrub too hard, because you can break the cotton fibres. Repeat with additional cleaning solution if the marks are still present.

Wash the cotton fabric as usual in cold water.


If you do not have rubbing alcohol, you can use a mixture of 3 tbsp ammonia in 1 qt. of water. Scrub with the toothbrush in the same manner.


Heat can set pencil marks permanently, so be sure to check the fabric carefully before you place the fabric into a dryer. Also check the fabric before you iron it.

Things You'll Need

  • White art eraser
  • 3/4 cup rubbing alcohol
  • Mild dish soap
  • Old soft-bristled toothbrush
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Cricket Webber began writing for fun as a young adult and started writing professionally in 2010. She is based in the deep South. Webber specializes in articles on greener living. Her work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in education from Converse College.