How to Remove a Highlighter Stain on Clothes

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Highlighters are useful tools when you're studying or trying to remember something or just making something look pretty but when they go awry, they make a mess. If you're wondering how to remove a highlighter stain on clothes, you know what it's like when DIY goes south.

A highlighter stain can sneakily find its way onto shirts, pants, and other clothing items when you may be engrossed in reading or studying. Colors like fluorescent pink, green, yellow, and orange may seem tough to get out but it is possible to remove a highlighter stain on clothes with a few simple ingredients and some vigorous washing.

How to Get Highlighter Out of Clothes

There are several different methods that can work when you need to know how to get highlighter out of clothes. Act quickly and many times, you will able to get rid of the stain and save your clothes.

Do not simply toss clothing into the washer and dryer and expect that this will be enough to get the highlighter out. Most of the time, this will only make the stain harder to remove.

Prep the Stain

As with all stains, speed is of utmost importance. Treat the stain as soon as you spot it.

Gently swab a fresh highlighter stain with paper napkins or a clean white cloth to blot any excess and prevent it from soaking deeper into the fabric. Blot, do not rub.

Then, apply a laundry pre-treatment stain solution. You can find stain treatment at any grocery store and many pharmacies.

Follow the directions on the label. Most of the time, you will be told to blot the stain with the treatment and allow it to sit for several minutes before you wash the clothing.

Washing the Stain

After pre-treating the stain, run the clothing through a standard wash cycle on cold water to see if you can get the stain to come out. With a stain treater and if you act quickly enough, this might be enough to get rid of the stain.

Before you put the stained clothing in the dryer, check the item carefully to see if all traces of the highlighter have been washed out. If they have, run the clothing through the dryer as normal and count yourself lucky.

If the marks haven’t been washed out, you will need to perform additional stain treatment to get rid of the highlighter.

Extra Wash

If the highlighter stain doesn’t go away after being treated with the pre-treatment solution, use plain laundry detergent and water and gently rub over the stain with your hands. Rub the detergent into the stain in a circular motion, working it into the fabric.

Avoid using any type of bar soap to rub the stain, since most bar soaps tend to cause stains to set. Do not scrub it, as scrubbing will cause the stain to seep further into the fibers of certain fabrics.

Rinse and rub again. This process may have to be repeated several times to get the stain out.

If you don't see any improvement to the stain using this method, you're going to need to take some extra steps and try some more aggressive stain removal techniques. There are lots of everyday household ingredients you can use to remove stains like this out of clothing.

DIY Stain Treatment

If washing the highlighter stain with laundry detergent doesn’t work, try other methods for getting highlighter out of clothes.

Want to know how to get highlighter out of clothes? Use rubbing alcohol.

First, do a quick test by rubbing the alcohol on a seam or hidden part of the clothing to make sure it doesn’t react or cause the color to fade. Alcohol is great for getting stains out of clothing but sometimes, it can remove all color from a garment so be sure to test it first.

Next, place the stained clothing on a clean white towel and pour the rubbing alcohol slowly right on the stain, soaking it all the way through. Blot the stain with another clean towel and keep pouring and blotting while moving the stained clothing to clean parts of the towel to prevent the stain from seeping back in.

Nail polish remover (non-acetone variety) may also be used in the same way as rubbing alcohol, if you haven’t got any rubbing alcohol on hand. Do remember to test it on the fabric as well.

In a pinch, hairspray can also be sprayed onto the highlighter stain and then blotted gently with a clean towel. There is a lot of alcohol content in hairspray, especially the most affordable (cheaper) varieties.

Kitchen Pantry Stain Removal

There are lots of things around the house you can use to remove a stubborn highlighter stain. Go look in your kitchen if you want to how know to get highlighter out of clothing, because you don’t always need the specialized stain removal formulas.

  • Vinegar

Vinegar is truly an all-purpose around-the-house cleaner. Vinegar has natural acids in it that can break down items that stain clothing.

Mix one part vinegar with two parts water and soak the stained area of clothing in this solution overnight. Rinse it thoroughly for several minutes with warm water after you wake up to remove the vinegar.

With luck, you will see the highlighter stain coming out of the fabric along with the vinegar.

  • Baking Soda

Another amazing all-purpose cleaning choice, baking soda can be sprinkled directly on the stain. Mix baking soda with water to form a paste and apply it in a thick layer on the stain.

You don’t have to rub the baking soda paste in but you do want to slather it on quite liberally, thickly covering the stain.

Let this dry completely and brush off the baking soda with your hands. Rinse the remaining baking soda from the fabric with cold water.

You might need to rinse the material for several minutes, allowing the water to run through it, to get out the baking soda.

  • Lemon Juice

Mix lemon juice with an equal amount of water and apply it right onto the stain, saturating the stain completely. Let this sit on the stain for 15 minutes before rinsing it thoroughly.

Lemon juice has natural acids in it that can break down stains. However, it can also affect dye and may remove color from clothing along with the stain.

Test lemon juice on a piece of fabric that won’t be noticed to see how ti reacts with the dye in the clothing.

  • Toothpaste

Get some toothpaste, actual paste and not gel, and gently rub it right into the stain. Let this sit on the stain for 30 minutes.

Wipe off the dried toothpaste with a paper towel and rinse away the residue. Work carefully because you don’t want to run the toothpaste into the fabric, simply remove it from the material.

Soaking and Rinsing

To remove the last of a faded highlighter stain, soak the clothing in salt water for a couple of hours after your stain treatments and wash the clothing in the machine again. Use cold water and if possible, extend the soak cycle to let the clothing sit in the water for an extra amount of time.

Drying the Clothes

When you've tried everything else and the stain still remains, line dry the stained item in the sunlight to naturally bleach out any remnants of the stain.

Choose a bright, sunny day and hang the clothing where it will get a great deal of sun exposure.

Remove a Highlighter Stain on Clothes

Have a highlighter stain on clothes? Getting highlighter out of clothes isn't easy but it is sometimes possible.

Use DIY stain removal techniques to get the highlighter out of your clothing. You don't have to live with highlighter stains on clothes when you know the right techniques.

Try different stain removal methods and wash the garment several times. Often, this will at least fade the stain enough so that it is harder to see.

Highlighter Stain FAQs

Does highlighter wash out of clothes?

Highlighter marks can wash out of clothes if you use the right techniques, though for some stains this won't work right away. All fabrics act differently and react to stains in different ways.

How do you remove highlighter bleeding?

Highlighters can bleed out and that's what makes highlighter marks difficult to remove. Even with paper, rubbing alcohol can be used to remove highlighter marks that have bled.

Rubbing alcohol and other stain removers will also work on highlighter marks that have made their way onto clothing.

What erases highlighter?

Several household substances that you probably already have on hand can be used to remove highlighter marks that you don't want to see. Lemon juice, baking soda, and even toothpaste can be used to get highlighter out of clothes.

Sometimes, even ordinary stain removers will work to remove these fluorescent marks from your clothes. Just remember that some stain treatments can remove all the color from a piece of clothing, right along with the highlighter stain.

This is why you don’t want to reach for bleach if you have a stain unless the item happens to be white already, as bleach will definitely remove all color from an item of clothing.

Can highlighter stains come out?

Removing highlighter from clothes is possible in some cases, though it depends on how long the stain has been there and the type of fabric that is stained. You can know how to remove dried highlighter from clothes and still be unsuccessful at completely getting rid of the stain.

Are highlighter stains permanent?

Most highlighter stains on clothes can be removed but sometimes, these stains are permanent. The only way to know is to try to remove the stain.

If you can't get highlighter out of clothes, don't despair. This is but another test of your DIY skills.

What else can you do with the clothing? Should you bleach the entire item, or patch it creatively to cover the stain?

If you tap into your DIY abilities, you might find that something of the clothing can be salvaged or reworked so you don't have to completely abandon the garment.

Does Sharpie come out of clothes?

Want to know how to get Sharpie out of clothes? You can actually use many of the same methods that work to remove highlighter marks from clothes to get rid of Sharpie stains.

Gently dab the stain with rubbing alcohol and this will help to remove the ink.

Antibacterial hand soap can also be effective at removing this ink. Rub the soap into the fabric and rinse it thoroughly and this should lighten the stain noticeably.

If you know how to remove highlighter from clothes, you can Sharpie, ink, and other marker stains out of your clothing using the same methods.

Does OxiClean remove Sharpie stains?

OxiClean is a name-brand stain removal formula that is designed to remove ink and marker stains from clothing, along with other stains. Ink and marker stains are quite common in clothing, so many universal stain removal products like this one are made to get rid of ink of all kinds.

There are other options when you're wondering how to get Sharpie out of clothes, such as using alcohol if you haven't got a stain remover handy.

Can you get permanent marker out of clothes after drying?

Sometimes, even dried stains that have been set in by the dryer can be removed. Try rubbing alcohol, lemon juice, and other stain removers to get the stain out.

Soak the fabric and treat it a few times and in some cases, you will be able to at least lighten the stain even after it has been through the dryer.

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