How To Remove Biro & Permanent Marker From Clothes

Surprisingly, few of us know how to remove permanent marker or biro from clothes.

Most of us resign our pen-stained clothing to the bin with no hope that it can be salvaged. Luckily with a few household items you can save your clothes and the money you would have spent replacing them.

Whether you’re the parent of a mini-Picasso who has expressed their creativity on their clothes, an office worker who carries a ballpoint pen in their pocket, or an organised person that always has a pen (or all three!) – you have probably experienced a mishap at some point in your life.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to treat your ink-induced woes to restore your clothing or any other fabric item.

First, we’ll tackle how to remove biro from clothes before looking at how to remove permanent marker stains. 

How To Get Biro Out Of Clothes

Eliminating biro stains from clothes, or any other fabric item is easier than most people think.

In most cases, you won’t even have to go further than your bathroom cupboard to get everything you need to remove the biro stain. 

What you need to remove biro from clothes

  • check
    Cotton pads​​​​
  • check
    Hairspray (not an alcohol-free spray)

For this method to work, you need to use a hairspray that contains alcohol. If you have an alcohol-free hairspray, you may have better results with rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol can often be found in home first aid kits, but you can improvise with alcohol-based antibacterial hand gel.

An old flannel or towel can be used in place of the cotton pads. As the stain may be transferred onto the flannel or towel, make sure you use one that you don’t mind getting damaged. 

Instructions for removing biro from clothes

Step 1 – Cotton Pad

Get a cotton pad (one that you wipe your face with will do the trick) and hold it behind the ink mark.

If the mark is large, you may need to use several pads to cover the area.

Step 2 – Hairspray

Liberally apply the hairspray on top of the biro mark(s). You may find that the mark gets a bit darker initially but don’t panic!

You need a nice thick layer for it too work so make sure you do this in a well-ventilated space.

Step 3 – Rub

Lightly rub the ink mark(s) with another cotton pad. Be careful not to rub the mark too vigorously.

Step 4 – Wash

Immediately put the item of clothing into the washing machine and run on the hottest wash possible.

Make sure to check the label on the garment to ensure you are washing it at a safe temperature for the fabric.

Here is good video showing how to get out ink stains.

How To Remove Permanent Marker From Clothes

Have you ever tried to remove a permanent marker? Removing permanent marker from clothes is notoriously tricky as (the clue is in the name) they are made to mark things permanently!

Many pens are water-based, but permanent markers are usually oil or alcohol-based.

This is perfect for marking items permanently as it makes the ink very adhesive so it sticks firmly to the item being marked. 

This is great when everything goes to plan but less great when you get it on your clothes.

What you need to remove marker from clothes

  • check
    A microfiber cloth
  • check
    Rubbing alcohol
  • check
    Stain removing laundry detergent

You can use another cloth if you don’t have a microfiber one to hand. Stay away from using paper kitchen towels or toilet roll as this can make the problem worse by leaving flecks of paper behind.

Methylated spirits can be used in place of rubbing alcohol. Like with removing biro, hairspray and alcohol-based antibacterial hand gel can be used as well.

For best results, we recommend sticking with rubbing alcohol whenever possible. 

Instructions for removing marker from clothes

Step 1 – Blot the stain

As soon as possible, blot the stain with the microfiber cloth to get up any excess ink.

It’s important that you don’t rub the mark as you’ll end up smudging the pen and making the problem worse.

Step 2 – Test the fabric

Test the rubbing alcohol on an inconspicuous area of the item.

For clothing, this may be the underside of a collar or the inside of a sleeve cuff. Gently apply a small amount of the rubbing alcohol to see if it discolours the fabric.

If the rubbing alcohol does discolour or damage your fabric, you may want to consider taking the item to a dry cleaner.

If you have been unfortunate enough to get permanent marker on a delicate fabric such as silk, a dry cleaner may be a safer port of call than risking rubbing alcohol.

Step 3 – Apply the rubbing alcohol


To break down the oil-based or alcohol-based bonds in the permanent marker ink, you need to liberally apply the rubbing alcohol. You want the area to be soaked
through and quite wet.

Leave the rubbing alcohol to do its magic for about 15 minutes.

Step 4- Wash


Place the stained items in the washing machine.

Add a laundry detergent that has been specifically designed to break down tough stains and then wash at the highest temperature that is safe for the fabric.

Avoid putting any other items in the wash. This may seem wasteful but you don’t want to risk transferring the ink to any other garments.

Rubbing alcohol is great for getting permanent marker off of just about anything, as this video shows!


As we all encounter an ink stain at some point in our lives, we hope you’ve found this guide useful.

If you know someone who could benefit from knowing how to remove biro and permanent marker stains from fabric, then please feel free to share this guide with them.

You can also find ways to remove other common stains here.