Closeup image of crayons in different colours.

How to remove pen stains and crayon marks from clothes

Pens, crayons, and paper are a source of endless entertainment for your little ones. But it’s hard not to dread that inevitable moment when the pen travels off the page and right onto their clean clothes. Luckily, removing pen stains, crayon stains, and even permanent marker can be a cinch. Here’s what you need to do.


How to remove pen stains from clothes

The first step in any pen stain removal process is the slightly stressful attempt to figure out what type of ink you’re actually dealing with. If you’re lucky, it’s a water-based felt tip. If not, skip down the page a little – we still have you covered.

Here’s how to get out a pen stain that’s water-based: 

  1. Gently blot the stain using a fresh cloth, soaking up any ink that’s still wet. 
  2. Pre-treat the stain with a small amount of Surf excel Liquid – or use our handy Surf excel Bar
  3. Follow the guidelines on the garment’s care label to wash it as normal. 

Not been so lucky? Here’s how to remove pen marks from a permanent marker: 

  1. As before, gently dab the stain with a clean cloth.
  2. Use a solvent (hairspray or rubbing alcohol would be fine) to pre-treat the stain. Be sure to test your chosen product on a tiny, hidden area of the garment first. 
  3. Wash the pre-treated garment straight away – don’t leave the solvent on for too long!

Top tip: When it comes to pen stain removal, it’s always a good idea to let the garment dry naturally. The heat of a tumble dryer can help set pen stains permanently. 

Are you hoping to get rid of another type of pen stain? Check out our article on removing highlighter and writing ink stains here.    


How to get crayon stains out of clothes 

Now that you know how to remove pen stains from clothes, it’s time to move on to the equally-inevitable crayon stains. Crayons are wax-based, making the stain removal process completely different. Here’s the secret: 

  • To remove fresh crayon stains: Pre-treat the stain with a dab of Surf excel Liquid. Wash the garment at the hottest temperature recommended on the care label, then check to see if the stain is gone before allowing the item to air dry.
  • To remove dried-up, ground-in crayon stains: A little bit of elbow grease is needed here.

Start by putting the stained item in the freezer (put it in a plastic bag first). After a couple of hours have passed, rescue it from the cold and use a very dull knife to carefully scrape off as much as the frozen crayon you can. 

Next, lay the item out flat, put a paper towel over the stain, and heat up the area using an iron – make sure you set it on a low heat. The wax should melt and sink into the towel, at which point you can pre-treat the stain on your garment with Surf excel and wash as normal. 

There you go! Now that you know how to remove pen marks and crayon stains from your little one’s clothes, you can join in with their creative projects, rather than worrying about any stains.

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