How do I get dry-erase markings off my shirts?

Sorry to all you puritans out there. The only thing this has to do with teaching is that it is a result of teaching; and I want to ask the group of people who probably know best.

Partly from my own clumsiness and partly from marker fights gone awry, I have a few streaks of dry-erase marker on my shirts. I can’t wash them off (apparently cotton fabric is the only material in the universe that dry-erase actually can’t be wiped off of); and dry cleaning doesn’t work either.

Besides an acetylene blow torch, what are my options?


Some kids deserve a good slapping, that’s all I can say.

It’s annoying that, isn’t it? The worst culprit pens are the refillable ones.

I seem to remember that somebody once suggested lighter fluid to me. I’ll have to try it.

I’m also interested to hear anyone else’s recommendations. I have a couple of shirts that are waiting to be saved from the ragpile; perfectly wearable apart from whiteboard marker blotches.

You dont, you get rid of the shirt.


a pair of scissors


a trip to a cheap clothing store.


Fair enough guys. I had a while when we had a really bad batch of pens and they messed up four of my shirts within a week.

When your father’s from Scotland and you have lived for many years in Yorkshire you tend to have a rather parsimonious attitude, but you’re right, shirts are cheap and easy to replace here.

What about the spray used to clean white boards–what’s in it, rubbing alcohol? acetone? Maybe some nail polish remover.

I don’t understand how you get it on your clothes in the first place. I mean if you’re dumb enought to have marker fights …

I’m careful, have good discipline in class and if I get a marker that leaks it goes staright in the bin. It’s years since I’ve got ink on my clothes.


The ledge under the white board can have lots of “whiteboard dust”- little colorful specks from previous wiping off of marks-especially if the board is used for several different classes throughout the day and the room isn’t regularly cleaned. I set the markers down on the ledge, then when I pick them up, I get that “dust” on my fingers. And then I incidentally touch my clothes. I did that with chalk as well, getting chalkdust on my clothes, sometimes on my face, as well! I don’t have any solutions for getting stains out though.

If I remember right… I had that problem once and a coworker recommended toothpaste. Damned if it didn’t work. It took some scrubbing but it did the job.

Thanks Jeff and RachelK; I’ll try the toothpaste first and the acetone if toothpaste doesn’t work.

CKVW, I used to have the same problem; forget about the marker dust on my hands and end up with a blue face.

Bu Lai En; I guess you haven’t tried refillable markers. They’re a great idea; cheaper and better for the environment but only one brand so far seems to be any good. The others have a tendency to splurt and drip, unavoidably staining the user’s shirt. We went through a few brands but the one we have now is generally fine as long as you don’t overfill the pens.

They’re all refillable aren’t they? I’ve tried a lot, and the ones that are the mot common seem to still be the best (which is not saying a lot). I think they’re called Sakura.


Yes, Sakura, that’s what we’re back to using. The other ones had replaceable nibs. The design was such that when you pressed in the nib, the pen was supposed to release more ink into it. The pens did indeed release ink - everywhere but into the nib, unfortunately.

There are some disposable pens available. I thought by what you’d written that you were using those, since they’re certainly clean to use, and also don’t leave as much dust residue as those Sakuras.

Bleach works fine too.

Dear Charlotte,

Spot on with your comment about bleach. However, bleach only works for light fabrics, preferrably whites.


I messed up two great shirts in the past two weeks. This has never happend before, even when my T.A. put so much ink in that it’s dripping all over the floor. But all of a sudden, two shirts - ba bye. Any ideas?

I’ve done the same before. I think your shirts are ruined.

Before throwing out those shirts - give this a try… works for me all the time - hair spray.

I used to sell clothing and often people would get ink marks on the merchandise when attempting to "put a sale price " on the tags.

Just spray the ink spots and throw the shirts in the laundry. Works well and leaves no spots.

The children I used to teach liked to draw on me (my skin, not my clothes, but of course some got on my clothing); plus there were a few games that inevitably ended up with marker marks on me.

:neutral: BLAGGHHH … I’ve gone and spilt ink on an expensive light-colored cotton dress. Anyone know how to get it out before she finds out?