Getting Pen Marks Out of Fleece Clothing

Ink spot on white shirt

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It's hard not to panic when you see an ink stain on your favorite fleece jacket or sweatsuit. But the truth is, ink stains on fleece are relatively easy to lift. There are several combinations of effective tactics that you can use to get ink stains out. The key is to find which one does the job best. Start with the easiest approach and then work your way through the options until the ink -- and your worries -- are gone.

Soap and Water

Attend to the stain as you notice it. Wet a white paper towel or sponge and gently dab the stain to remove the initial layer of ink. Be careful not to rub the stain, as it will smear and likely become larger. You can also put a small dab of dishwashing soap on the paper towel and gently blot the stain. The ink will begin transferring onto the towel, but may not all get out this way.


Spray a small amount of an alcohol-based hairspray onto the ink stain. For an even spray, stay about 2 inches away from the fleece. Wait 10 seconds for the liquid to penetrate the ink. Blot the ink with a dry white paper towel and then gently rub in a circular motion. Move the paper towel often so that a clean area continues to touch the spot. When most of the ink lifts, saturate the area again with hairspray and keep blotting and rubbing gently until the fleece is completely clean. After the fleece dries, launder as usual in warm water.

Liquid Laundry Detergent

If some ink is left over from the hairspray application, wet a soft, clean cloth, apply a dab of neutral laundry detergent and wait five minutes for the detergent to penetrate the fleece. Use a dabbing and gentle rubbing motion, continuously moving the cloth so that the ink doesn't transfer back to the fleece once lifted. Place the fleece under a dribble of warm water and use the cloth to help spot rinse the detergent. Follow up with a pre-wash stain-removal product and launder the fleece as usual. Allow to air dry -- putting it in the dryer can set any leftover stains.

Household Remedies

If any ink remains, mix equal parts of ammonia, lemon juice and cold water in a spray bottle. Squirt the solution several times onto the leftover ink smudge. Apply a gentle blotting and rubbing in a circular motion with a clean cloth. Keep adding spray until you see the ink dissipate. Read the washing instructions on your fleece item and launder using a mild detergent. You can also try a variety of additional household items, including nail polish remover, baking soda, store-bought stain sticks or gels, and milk. If you use milk, soak the area with whole-fat milk, leaving the milk on the fleece overnight.