Does Felt Tip Pen Come Out Of Clothing?

If your child comes home with a giant streak of colorful pen on a new outfit, don’t despair. If you act quickly, felt tip pen ink can be successfully removed from clothing, and your little Picasso will be ready to create another masterpiece in no time.

Felt tip pen ink does come out of clothing if treated quickly. Non-permanent felt tip pens are usually water-based, and ink can be removed by pretreating the spot. Permanent felt tip pens are more of a challenge, but they can be removed using an alcohol-based solvent like hairspray.

No matter what type of felt tip pen has marked your clothing, time is of the essence. If you know what to do, you will be able to immediately take action when you notice a mark. The odds are good that you will be able to remove it altogether if you get to it before it sets in.

Does Felt Tip Pen Come Out Of Clothing?

Unlike regular pen ink or permanent markers, colorful felt tip pens are designed to be used by kids, so the ink is water-based. If the mark is fresh, it won’t be difficult to remove, but washing it without treating it is likely to set the stain.

On the other hand, the ink of permanent felt tip pens is made to stay put, so it will be a little more complicated to remove. However, if you know what strategy to use, even the blackest marker will be no match for your laundry science skills.

No matter what type of felt tip pen ink is on the clothing, there are two very important things that you need to do first:

  • Treat the mark as soon as you see it. Once it is completely dry, it will be more challenging to remove.
  • Do not rub the felt tip pen mark on the fabric. This is important. Rubbing will thin it out and spread it around. You need to lift the stain by dabbing it so the mark doesn’t get bigger.

Once the felt tip pen mark has been laundered and dried, it will be near impossible to remove, so don’t delay in pretreating it.

As soon as you notice a mark on clothing that has been made by a felt tip pen, determine what type of pen it was. Your plan of action must be based accordingly.

How To Remove Water Based Felt Tip Pen From Clothing

Water-based felt tip pens are popular tools in classrooms and include colorful sets that are sure to inspire creativity. However, the ink transfers readily from the tips onto any surface that it makes contact with, including clothing.

Fortunately, water-based color felt tip pens are usually a snap to remove so long as the mark is pretreated before the garment is laundered. Do not be tempted to simply pop it in the wash because doing so is more likely to set the ink and cause a permanent stain on the fabric.

You can use two methods to pretreat a mark from a water-based felt tip pen. One is to immerse the spot in cold milk. Use a saucer or shallow bowl and let the marker spotted section lay in the milk for several minutes before dabbing it with a sponge or cloth. Then launder the item in a hot wash cycle using a detergent.

The milk method usually works, but if it doesn’t, and you can still see the mark when you remove the garment from the machine, do not let it get dry. Then saturate the spot with a laundry stain remover – the aerosol ones work well. After allowing it to penetrate, follow up and cover the mark with a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent that you should rub in.

Send the garment for another spin through the washing machine, and hopefully, the mark will have vanished. If it is still present, it may be time to concede that the felt tip pen used may well have been a permanent marker.

How To Remove Felt Tipped Permanent Marker From Clothing

Fortunately, there is a simple trick to removing permanent marker ink from almost any fabric or even carpet. The secret is hairspray.

Hairspray is such a useful cleaning solution that it should be a part of every household cleaning kit. You can use any inexpensive brand of hairspray to lift felt pen marks. So how does hairspray work to lift these impossible stains?

Permanent pens are oil or alcohol-based, so using ordinary cleaning agents won’t remove them. These agents are specifically included to help the ink stick to a surface permanently. Because they are water-resistant, you won’t have much luck removing them using regular detergent.

That is where hairspray comes in. The handy alcohol-based spray acts as a solvent that can break down the oils and alcohols found in the marker pen ink. Once the color protective coating has been removed, removing the color will be easier.

This is what you need to do to remove permanent felt tip pen marks from clothing:

  • Do not immerse the stain in water.
  • Put a clean absorbent cloth behind the stain so that the mark doesn’t push through to another area of the garment when you apply pressure.
  • Spray the mark with a liberal amount of hairspray. The area must be soaked in hairspray, so spray it on thickly.
  • Leave it for at least fifteen minutes so it can break down the bond between the ink and the setting agent. 
  • Then start blotting the mark with a clean cloth to lift the ink. Note, do not rub the spot. Dab it repeatedly with clean sections of cloth
  • The ink will begin to transfer from the garment onto the cloth you are using to dab.
  • You can turn the fabric over and apply hairspray, and dab from the other side.
  • Slowly but surely, the permanent felt tip marker stain will lift out of the fabric and transfer onto the cloth that you are using to blot.
  • Once most of the stain has been lifted out, put it in the washing machine at the highest heat setting recommended for the garment. Use a laundry detergent formulated for stain removal.

If you have tried everything above and there are still traces of the stain, do not allow the garment to dry. Then repeat the process.

Hairspray will also effectively lift felt tip marker stains from carpets and other fabrics like sofas or cushions. The hairspray brand is not important. In fact, the cheaper, the better, so having a large can as part of your cleaning arsenal may come in very handy.

Other agents that will break down permanent felt tip pen marker stains are methylated spirits, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, or rubbing alcohol. However, it is essential to check the colorfastness of the garment that you are treating in an inconspicuous spot before using one of these agents, or you could cause more damage than the felt marker.


Felt tip pen does come out of clothing so long as it hasn’t been there too long. Once the garment is laundered and dried, the stain will have set in and be almost impossible to remove. Removing new marks is quite simple, especially if you know if the ink was water-based or permanent.

Water-based ink marks can be pretreated and quickly washed out. You will need to dissolve the color-set bonds of permanent ink, which can be done using an agent like hairspray to treat the stain before washing the garment on a hot wash setting.

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