How to Remove Sharpie Yellow Highlighter Ink From Cotton

by Diana Braun ; Updated September 28, 2017

It’s bound to happen sooner or later. It’s the accidental spill, not paying attention, or an arm bump and a stain appears on your clothing at the most inconvenient time. Stains come in all forms from mustard and ketchup to drinks to permanent markers and highlighters. To remove a permanent highlighter stain, a few very common household items can be applied. Attack the stain as quickly as possible and you will have your cotton clothing looking like new.

Items you will need

  • Hair spray
  • White vinegar
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Paper towels/cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Absorbent pads
Step 1

Spray hair spray on the stain to loosen the ink.

Step 2

Soak cotton garment in a solution of 1 quart warm water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and a ½ teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent for 30 minutes.

Step 3

Rinse your garment with water and allow to dry.

Step 4

Place a spare cloth or paper towel inside or underneath your garment beneath the stain to prevent ink from bleeding through the garment.

Step 5

Apply rubbing alcohol to the stain and cover with an absorbent pad that has been moistened with a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Blot the stain lightly to remove the ink.

Step 6

Change the absorbent pad as it becomes absorbed with the stain. Ensure stain and absorbent pad are moist with alcohol when removing the stain.

Step 7

Repeat steps 2 to 6 until the stain comes out.


  • Treat the highlighter stain as soon as possible. This will increase your chances of getting the stain out.

    If the stain is fresh, do not dry it right away. Drying the stain will allow it set making it difficult to remove. Keep the stain moist.

About the Author

Diana Braun began her writing career as a consultant and technical writer for a software company focusing on how-to, training, white paper, and internal process documentation. After two years, Braun left to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Since then, she has launched several startups including a t-shirt business, an online marketing and advertising t-shirt distribution business, and an entertainment site. She currently resides in South Florida.