Highlighter pens sitting on a table.

How to remove highlighter stains and ink stains

Whether it’s your teenager blotting their sleeves with highlighters during revision, or your little one getting carried away with the pens while drawing, a parent’s life is never free of ink stains. That’s the bad news. The good news is that – even though these marks may look dramatic – removing ink from clothes can be simple. 

Here’s how to get your child’s clothes looking clean and fresh again, so that they can get back to drawing (or highlighting) up a storm.

How to remove ink stains

Ink stains may seem stubborn at first, but everyday pen ink is usually water-soluble. If that’s the case, the solution is simple. Follow these steps to remove ink stains from your clothes:

  1. Carefully dab the stain using a clean cloth or a paper towel to soak up any wet ink.
  2. Rub in a small amount of OMO Ultimate Liquid using the bottom of the dosing ball. You could also use a soft, old (but clean!) toothbrush. Remember to be gentle – as much as you hate that stain, you don’t want to take it out on an innocent t-shirt.
  3. Wash as usual. The recommendations on the care label will tell you which machine setting to use if you’re not sure. If the stain is still visible after the wash, repeat the process before letting the garment dry.

Hint: When removing ink from clothes, it’s always best to let the stained clothes air-dry. If you’ve missed any lingering stains, the heat from a tumble dryer may set them in the fabric and make them much trickier to remove. 

How to remove highlighter stains

If you’re looking to remove highlighter stains, or other pigment-based stains that aren’t water-soluble, you might have to work a little harder. First, try the method we mentioned above. If you have no luck, try using a solvent. You’ll probably have a suitable one at home already: hand sanitiser, rubbing alcohol or hair spray should do nicely. 

Remember to always test these methods on a less conspicuous part of the garment before treating a larger area, just to make sure you get the results you want. Here’s how to remove highlighter stains:

  1. Spray or dab some of the solvent onto the stain, blotting it with a clean, white cloth. Be gentle – you don’t want to rub the stain deeper into the fabric. Continue until you’ve removed as much of the highlighter or ink as you can.
  2. Next, let the garment soak in a tub of cold, salty water for a couple of hours – a mix of tap water and regular table salt is fine. This handy solution should help to draw the ink out of the fabric.
  3. Wash as usual, following the recommendations on the care label. Remember to take a look at the stained area to see whether the stain has vanished completely before it dries; if it hasn’t, repeat the process.

These methods should help you get rid of those (practically inevitable) highlighter and ink stains on your children’s clothes. For other creativity-induced stains, check out our articles on how to remove dried clay stains and how to remove felt pen and crayon stains.