Whether you are in the office writing some important documents and you’re smartly dressed in your crisp white shirt, or you’ve just put on your new dress before a celebration and you sit down to write a card – you look down and to your horror there it is, an ink stain from a leaking pen or a line of marker that has mysteriously appeared on your clothes.
It happens to the best of us. Well, lucky for you, this article has a list of some household remedies that you can use to get Biro and permanent marker out of your clothes.
What you need to know
Before you start, test the chosen stain removing method on a piece of fabric similar to your clothing to see if it works. Alternatively, test the desired method on the part of your clothes that will not be visible.
For this, you will need a towel or paper towels along with a container for soaking your clothes. A note of caution – do not use your favourite towel. The size of the dish depends on how big the stain is.
After treating the stain, wash your item separately to prevent any transfer onto other clothes. Use a detergent and follow the clothing label’s washing instructions. If the stain is not completely gone, then you can try the method again. It is recommended that you air-dry the clothes after treating and washing them.
Some commercial products are helpful to remove biro and permanent marker stains. The key ingredient in commercial products is alcohol. However, if you do not have a commercial product to remove biro or permanent marker, you can look at the list below. There is a wide variety of methods, and one of them will work for you.
So, with this information, let’s get into it!
How to remove Biro from clothes
Use Rubbing Alcohol or Hand Sanitiser
When using alcohol, the key ingredient to look for is isopropyl. If you do not have rubbing alcohol, you can also use hand sanitiser with a high alcohol level. Take care not to use sanitiser with colouring or scent. You can use this method on most fabrics except silk, rayon, and wool.
- Rub the alcohol or sanitiser onto the stain and let it soak for about 10 minutes
- Use a small amount of detergent, and using your fingers, tap it onto the stain. Use a liquid detergent, but be mindful that the detergent could stain the rest of your garment
- Wash the clothing in a separate wash. Preferably, set your washing machine to a hot wash. However, read the label to see if you can wash it at a higher temperature
- Air dry your item. Before you air dry, make sure the stain is gone
Use Salted Butter
Salted butter is something that most people have in their homes and is an excellent method for removing a stain. This method may sound bizarre, but it works. The oil makes the stain softer, and in combination with the salt and sunlight, the stain lifts easier. However, this method is not suitable for satin or silk.
- Put some butter on the stain and use a cloth to rub in the butter. Rub in a circular motion from the outside inwards, but make sure the butter does not spread anywhere else
- Place the piece of clothing in sunlight for about two days
- Use a small amount of detergent on the stain and rub. Wash it separately and set the machine to a hot wash. Again, look at the label to ensure your item can go through a hot wash
- Air dry the item. If the stain is not completely gone, repeat the steps until your clothing item comes out stain-free
Use White Vinegar and Milk
You will need one part vinegar to two parts milk. Make sure to use a large bowl for the mixture. This method is suitable for most fabrics, but it is recommended for removing stains from wool items.
- Put the clothing piece in a big enough container to ensure the stain can be covered completely. Next, pour over the milk and then add the vinegar
- Soak the piece of clothing overnight
- Remove the clothing item from the container. If the stain is still visible, rub the fabric together to remove it completely
- Wash the piece of clothing to remove the smell of vinegar and milk. If the stain is not entirely gone, you can repeat the steps above
Use Nail Polish Remover
Since this method can cause damage, nail polish remover should be the last resort. So, be sure to test this method on the part of the clothing that is not easily visible. If it looks safe to use on the item, use the exact instructions as the rubbing alcohol method.
Something to note about this method – once the ink starts to lift, make sure you use a clean part of the towel to avoid re-staining.
Removing biro from silk or satin
To remove biro from silk or satin, you can use a mixture of vinegar and water. This method is easy with only two main steps.
- Mix equal amounts of vinegar and water in a container
- Soak the item of clothing and gently scrub the stain using a toothbrush with soft bristles. Repeat the two steps until the stain disappears and wash your item as you usually would
Removing biro from leather
To get Biro out of leather, you can use baby wipes, hairspray, and rubbing alcohol. If you are using baby wipes, rub gently on the leather garment until the stain comes off.
To remove the stain with hairspray, spray directly onto the area and gently rub with a cotton bud.
Rubbing alcohol also works, but since alcohol dries out leather, be sure to condition your garment afterwards.
How to remove Permanent Marker from clothes
Use Rubbing Alcohol or Hand Sanitiser
Follow the same steps as you would when removing biro stains. Be sure to remember that the key ingredient to look for is isopropyl when you use this method. Also, keep in mind you can use this method on most fabrics except silk, rayon, and wool.
Use Toothpaste and Lemon Juice
Toothpaste and lemon juice are best for permanent marker stains, and they work well for Sharpie stains too. However, be sure not to use gel toothpaste.
- Mix some toothpaste with a few drops of lemon juice
- Smear the mixture onto the stain and be sure to cover the stain completely
- Use some arm strength and rub the mixture into the stain. Once you have done some vigorous rubbing, leave the mixture on the stain
- Wash off the toothpaste mixture using cold water
Use Baking Soda and Toothpaste
Baking soda is an excellent method to remove permanent marker stains from clothes. This method is ideal if you do not have lemon juice.
- Mix some bicarbonate of soda and toothpaste to form a paste
- Spread the paste evenly over the stain and rub using circular motions. Be sure to be gentle
- Let sit for anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour
- Wash the item separately in a washing machine, like you usually would
- Once the stain is completely gone, air dry the item
Permanent Marker on leather
When the marker stain occurs, be sure to treat the stain as soon as possible. You can use hairspray in an aerosol can, sunscreen, or distilled vinegar.
To remove the stain with hairspray, be sure to spray directly on the mark and blot lightly using a clean cloth.
To remove the stain using sunscreen or distilled vinegar, blot lightly on the area using a clean cloth.
Q1. What is the best method to remove biro from clothing?
Rubbing alcohol is one of the best methods, but it is not something everyone has in their homes. You can substitute with hand sanitiser that has a high alcohol content and no colour or scent. Make sure to read the clothing label and test the method to ensure no damage occurs.
Q2. I don’t have access to rubbing alcohol. What is a good alternative to remove permanent markers from my clothes?
Toothpaste and lemon juice can be an excellent alternative.
Q3. Can I use vodka to remove biro and permanent marker?
No, you cannot use any form of drinking alcohol. Only alcohol that contains isopropyl can effectively remove Biro and permanent marker stains. So, be sure to look for this key ingredient.
Q4. Can I use milk on its own to remove biro from clothes?
Yes, you can. This method is useful when you have a biro stain on coloured clothing items. Soak the clothes in a bowl filled with milk, enough to cover the stain. Leave it overnight and wash as you usually would.
With these methods, you are equipped to face any biro or permanent marker stain your child, clumsy self, or unforeseen events throw at you.
You will no longer be left thinking that biro and permanent marker stains are the reason you can’t put on your favourite clothes.
Meet our reviewer
Jimmy Pearce is our resident expert on domestic cleaning appliances. Having managed a large electrical retail store for over 10 years and with a family that includes 3 kids, there is little Jimmy doesn’t know or hasn’t seen when it comes to domestic cleaning. When he’s not spending time with the family or reviewing domestic appliances, Jimmy is often found in his man cave jamming on his bass guitar.