highlighter stain on clothes

How to Get Highlighter Out of Clothes

Unless you wanted to highlight a particularly cool part of your new shirt, we’re sure having highlighter ink on your clothes isn’t something you planned to deal with today.

Before you throw away a perfectly good shirt, though, we may have a solution to help you remove the mark forever.

While removing highlighter stains from clothes can be a bit challenging, with the right approach, it is possible to minimise or eliminate the stain altogether.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get highlighter stains out of clothes.


1. Act Quickly

It’s important with a stain like this that you act as quickly as you can. The sooner you address the stain, the better your chances of removing it completely.

If possible, treat the stain immediately after noticing it. If this isn’t possible, deal with it the same day. The longer you leave a stain like this, the harder it is to remove.


2. Blot the Stain

blot ink stain with paper towel

Blotting the stain straight away can help to remove the excess ink. It likely won’t remove all of the stain but will do a good job of removing some of it.

All you need is some paper towels or a clean cloth. Just dab the stain gently with the paper towel to encourage it to transfer to this.

Avoid rubbing the stain if you can; this will just spread it around.


3. Pre-Treat the Stain

pretreat stain with liquid detergent or washing up liquid

The moment you get a chance, apply your favourite stain remover to the stained area.

If you don’t have a stain remover on hand, you can use liquid detergent or washing-up liquid and apply this directly to the stain.

Always look at the tag on the clothing to ensure that it is safe to apply the stain remover you are using.

Applying the stain remover is nice and simple. You can use your fingers to gently rub it into the fabric or a soft brush. Leave this to soak in while you fill a bowl with cold water.


4. Let It Soak

hand washing clothes in the sink

Fill a bowl or the sink with cold water and fully submerge the piece of clothing (ensuring the stained area is completely submerged).

Allow the piece of clothing to soak in the water for at least half an hour. For very bad stains, you can add some more detergent or stain remover to the water.

The idea here is that the stain remover and the water will reactive the highlighter and make it easier to remove in the next steps.

If you skip this step, there is a chance that the highlighter won’t activate until halfway through the washing stage, making it harder to remove.


5. Give the Clothes a Wash

taking out laundry from washing machine

After soaking for a while, give the clothing a wash in the washing machine. Use the highest settings that you can use on the fabric without damaging it.

The heat plays an important role in removing the stain. You can add more stain remover and detergent to the fabric before the washing cycle if needed.

Before you leave the clothing to dry, it is a good idea to check it. If the stain is still clearly visible, you’ll need to repeat the pre-treatment and the washing steps until the stain has gone.

This is particularly important if you intend to use a tumble dryer to dry the clothing. The heat from the drying cycle can set the highlighter stain, making it much harder to remove later on.

If you don’t have any more time to deal with the stain today, you can either leave it to soak in stain remover or air dry it overnight.

air drying black shirt

Air drying won’t set the stain into the fabric, and you’ll be able to continue the stain removal the next day.

Once you have removed all of the highlighter stain, you can dry as normal.

Some highlighters may contain more stubborn pigments that could leave behind a faint mark even after treatment.

In such cases, multiple attempts might be necessary to completely remove the stain, but following these steps will increase your chances of success.