How to get a highlighter out of clothes?

The most popular highlighters have a creamy consistency, and they are made of an oil-based substance. This is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to remove them from your clothes. However, there are some methods on how to get highlighters out of clothes without damaging them too badly.

How to get highlighter out of clothes
How to get a highlighter out of clothes?

Blot out excess color

Treat fresh marks immediately because they are easier to remove than older ones. Lay the garment flat and blot up as much of the spill mark as possible using an absorbent cloth or paper towel. If only some of the color has come through, use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to carefully pick at any remaining pigment. This will cause it to fade faster than leaving it alone would.

Use alcohol or lemon juice

Dab either alcohol or lemon juice onto the stained area and let it dry completely before washing. If you notice that one hasn’t removed all the color, don’t worry; just repeat this process until the mark is gone.

Use ammonia

This method works best for clothes that are made from natural fibers such as cotton or linen. Mix a few drops of household ammonia in a spray bottle with water and spray on the stain. Follow by rinsing in cold water and letting the garment air-dry overnight before wearing again.

Make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide

Combine these two ingredients into a thick pastelike substance, then spread over the highlighter mark with your finger or an old toothbrush, depending on how big the stain is. Let it sit for a minute or two, and then rinse in cool water.

Make a paste of baking soda and dish detergent

Depending on the stain’s size, spread the paste over the stained area with your finger or an old toothbrush. Let it sit for five minutes, rinse well using cold water, and air dry before wearing it again. Making this type of sudsy mixture often can also help you remove other types of stains from clothes in addition to highlighter marks.

Use hydrogen peroxide and ammonia

Using one part ammonia and three parts hydrogen peroxide, make a batch of this stuff and apply it straight to fresh highlighter stains (don’t let these mixtures sit on the fabric for an extended length of time). Wring out the excess liquid and hang the garment to dry.

Use a Sharpie marker

A Sharpie marker works best when used immediately after the highlighter has caused the staining. Try squeezing some onto a cotton swab or cotton ball, then rub it over the stained area until the color starts to fade. Keep scrubbing with fresh pieces of cotton, moving on to new pieces if necessary until all of the colors is gone from clothes. If you don’t have any around your home, try checking at your local office supplies store or art supply retailer before heading out to buy one specifically for this purpose.

Use rubbing alcohol

Dip a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and rub it on the mark until it disappears. Try dipping an old toothbrush or makeup applicator brush in some alcohol and gently scrubbing the area if this doesn’t work. Continue treating the stain with different methods if necessary until you’re sure that no more color will come through.

Use cornstarch

After blotting away as much of the spilled highlighter as you can, sprinkle on some cornstarch (use enough to cover the entire stained area), then use an iron set on low heat to warm up and remove the discoloration instantly. Be careful not to burn your clothing! This method works best with cotton fabrics but may damage other materials, so be extra cautious when trying it out for yourself.

Use body powder

Apply baby powder to the stained area using a clean cloth or cotton swab, and let it sit for several minutes until the color starts to fade. Keep treating with this method until all of the highlighters come out of your clothes, and then launder them as usual.

Use hairspray

Hairspray contains chemicals that help “glue” spilled inks and other stains together to prevent them from moving any further into your clothing once they’re applied in a thick layer directly over an old spill mark. Just spray some on and let it sit overnight before washing – repeated uses will just cause more marks to appear on your clothes, so be sure not to keep adding this mixture after each cleaning.

Use rubbing alcohol and salt

Mix these two ingredients into a thick paste, then spread it over the stained area with your finger or an old toothbrush, depending on how big the stain is (use a new one if necessary). Let it sit for five minutes and rinse well using cold water – repeat if necessary until all of the highlighter coming out of clothes stops. Drying clothes in sunnier weather usually makes stains fade faster, so you might want to try that technique for stubborn marks as well.

Use baby wipes

If none of the other methods have worked to remove highlighters from clothing, use a clean cloth or cotton swab to press down firmly over the spilled ink and absorb as much of it as you can. Keep going until it’s all gone, and then rewash the clothes immediately to make sure nothing comes back later on down the line.

Use nail polish remover

Put a bit of non-acetone nail polish remover onto a cotton ball or swab, and use that to blot away at any highlighter stains that remain after trying out other methods. If this doesn’t work, try using a fresh piece of cotton before moving on to another method if necessary – acetone can damage some types of fabric, so be careful how much you use to prevent further problems like holes forming in your clothing.

Use fabric-safe bleach alternative

Try using oxygen-based bleaching products instead of chlorine ones for this one. Spray your clothes down with hydrogen peroxide before rewashing them in cold water when all of the ink has been forced out – make sure to not apply any more solution and let it sit for two hours before rinsing out all of the extra liquid and rewashing as usual.

Use hydrogen peroxide

Use a spray bottle to dispense hydrogen peroxide onto your stained clothing, and then allow it to soak in by pressing down with a clean cloth or cotton swab until it’s dry before laundering the clothes again. Be careful how much you use since this type of bleach can damage some types of fabrics.

Ask for help from professionals at the dry cleaners

Some stains are just too stubborn to get rid of on your own, so bring in any remaining highlighter marks to the dry cleaners before they become set permanently into your clothing. After all, this is their job, so they should be professionals at getting rid of any type of stain. Make sure to never iron or dry clean the clothes if they were wet since that will set anything not removed back into them, causing all kinds of new problems down the line.


There are different methods on how to get highlighter out of clothes to try, but the best way is to go with what works for you. Experiment and see which method suits your needs best.

How to get a highlighter out of clothes?
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