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How to Erase Highlighters?

how to erase highlighter

Why do you need to know how to erase highlighter marks? If your line of work requires reviewing huge piles of paperwork, like an accountant or a teacher, you might be using a highlighter a lot of times. The highlighter tip, though, usually leaves marks on places you did not intend it to, like your clothes.

This article will teach you several methods to remove highlighter stains from your clothes, and even paper. You might be surprised at how easy that last part is.

Using Rubbing Alcohol

Since we are still technically living through a global pandemic, you surely should have a bottle or two of rubbing alcohol lying around the house. This product does more than just keep your hands clean as it is also one of the best ways how to erase highlighter stains.

What to Prepare:

  • Rubbing alcohol (90% solution if you have it)
  • A couple of paper towels
  • A couple of cotton balls

Step 1: Place a Paper Towel Under the Stain

If you are cleaning a shirt, you wouldn’t want the stain to transfer to the other side. Placing a paper towel underneath the stain will prevent the ink from simply transferring from the front of the shirt to the back.

Step 2: Blot the Area with Rubbing Alcohol

If the stain is quite small, take a cotton ball, soak it in some rubbing alcohol, and dab it on the stain. Dabbing will prevent the ink from spreading all over the fabric. However, once the paper towel on the other side has absorbed most of the ink, you can start to rub the stain more vigorously to get the remaining ink out of the fabric.

Step 3: Check if There is Still some Ink Left

Since highlighter ink is fluorescent, you might think that you’ve gotten it out on your first try. However, check the stain under a strong light just to be sure that you have removed it completely. If there is still a bit left, repeat the previous step.

Step 4: Wash the Garment Normally

After you spot treat the fabric stain, you can wash the garment like you normally would. After a normal wash cycle, inspect the location of the stain again to make sure that you’ve got all the ink out, and if you are satisfied then toss it in the dryer.

Using Baking Powder and Vinegar

The acid in white vinegar helps dissolve the ink and lift it out of the fabric. That alone is great for minor stains. However, if you combine it with baking soda, the fizzy chemical reaction will further remove any traces of the stain.

What to Prepare:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar

Step 1: Test on a Hidden Spot First

Check if the vinegar you are using is too strong for the fabric. Place a drop of vinegar on any concealed part of the stained garment. I usually test new stain removal products at the hem or under the collar. If the fabric does not have any adverse reaction (color fading), you can continue.

Step 2: Treat the Stain with Vinegar First

If the highlighter stain is not that big, you can try using just the vinegar first. Place a paper towel underneath the stain to catch the ink and vinegar coming out the other side. This will prevent the stain from simply transferring to the other side of the garment.

Pour some vinegar on a cotton ball and proceed to blot the stain. Once it removes a considerable amount of ink, continue scrubbing until more of it comes out.

Step 3: Apply Baking Soda

If the vinegar was not enough, sprinkle enough baking soda on the garment to cover the stain. Afterward, pour a bit of vinegar over the baking soda. Wait until the fizzing settles, and then rinse the garment under cold running water.

Step 4: Repeat if Necessary

If you see that there is still a bit of highlighter ink left, repeat step 4 as many times as necessary. Once satisfied with the results, wash the garment as you normally would.

Using Hand Sanitizer

how to erase highlighter from paper

If you are still in the office and you don’t have any rubbing alcohol, but you do have a bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag, you can use that. Here’s how:

Step 1: Apply the Hand Sanitizer Directly to The Stain

Directly put a dab of hand sanitizer on the ink stain. Don’t rub it just yet. Wait for the alcohol in the hand sanitizer to work its magic. Because hand sanitizer is thicker than rubbing alcohol, it won’t dry up as quickly. This means it can loosen the ink better.

Step 2: Rub the Stained Area

Using a paper towel or a bit of tissue, rub the stained area to remove the dissolved ink. Using a paper towel is advisable because it can absorb the ink stain rather than spread it all over the fabric.

Step 3: Repeat if Necessary

If there is still a bit of stain left, repeat steps 1 and 2 until the ink stain is barely visible or completely gone. Use another clean paper towel to pick up any leftover hand sanitizer so the fabric can dry up quickly.

Using Salt

I was also surprised that this works, not just for removing ink stains, but also for blood and grease

What You Need to Prepare:

  • A tablespoon of salt (granulated)
  • A couple of drops of water

Step 1: Mix Salt and Water to Make a Paste

Take a tablespoon of salt and mix it with a couple of drops of water. Stir until it turns into a paste.

Step 2: Apply the Paste to the Stain

Put enough of the salt paste to cover the stain. Let it sit for around ten to twenty minutes, or until the salt dries, whichever comes first.

Step 3: Rinse the Salt Away Using Cold tap Water

Put the fabric under the tap and rinse the salt off the stained area. It should have completely disappeared. Wash the garment like you would normally do to remove any subtle traces of the stain.

Helpful Tips

  • Use regular table salt – Aside from removing stains, putting ½ of regular table salt per laundry load will keep the colors of your clothes from bleeding. This is great for when you’re washing brand new clothes
  • Speaking of salt, you should never use it on garments that are dry clean only
  • Use acetone to clean stains – Most of the time, old highlighter stains are almost impossible to remove. However, you can use acetone. Be extra cautious when doing so, though. Keep in mind that acetone is a potent solvent and it might damage the fabric of your clothes


Highlighter ink stains might not be quite as noticeable compared to the regular colors of ink. However, it can still be quite a pain to stare at the stained spot because you just know that it is there.

The good news is that if you know how to erase highlighter from your clothes, upholstery, and other fabrics, you will discover that it is quite easy. The tips mentioned above are only just some of the things that have worked for me and they might just work for you, too.

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