A back to school edition of our popular
On the Spot
stain removal tips

On the Spot Stain Removal: Classroom Edition- How to remove stains from ink, markers, glue, crayons, and pencils using items from your pantry

Ink/Marker: Ink can be trickyHere are 3 options, from gentlest to harshest, to try.

  • Option #1: Apply toothpaste on both sides of the stain.  Wash the spot after the toothpaste has dried.
  • Option #2: Put paper towels under the spot to absorb the ink.  Outline area with petroleum jelly –(stops ink from running any further).  Spray hairspray (non-oily, alcohol based) on ink.  Dab with paper towel.
  • Option #3: Put paper towels under the spot to absorb the ink.  Pour rubbing alcohol on a rag or cotton ball, dab on the ink then wipe with a soft rag or paper towel.   This will work similar to the hair spray method listed above, as both are alcohol based.  But rubbing alcohol is a much harsher substance, I would not recommend using on delicate fabrics.

I’ve also heard soaking ink/marker stains in milk will help lift the spot.  Haven’t tried it but it seems worth a shot for delicate fabrics.

Chalk: Does anyone actually still use chalk in the classroom?

  • Brush off as much as possible then wash as usual.  Most chalk should come out in the wash, but if a spot remains try treating with a mixture of 1 tablespoon dish soap diluted in 2 cups of water.

Glue: Do not use hot water or put item in the dryer until glue is completely removed!

  • If glue has dried, soak in room temperature water at least overnight.  Most school glue is washable and once softened can be run through a regular wash cycle.


  • Use an eraser to loosen the mark.  Then soak in room temperature water.  If stain persists, add a drop of dish washing detergent plus 2 teaspoons rubbing alcohol to 1 cup water and gently dab on stain with a cotton ball.  You may need to rub stain between fingers.  Wash as usual.


  • Mix equal parts baking soda and laundry detergent to form a paste.  Apply to stain on both sides of fabric.  Then soak affected area in the hottest water possible for 30 minutes.  Wash as usual.  This should also work for melted crayon.

Had a messy day on the playground?
Check out On the Spot: Tackling Playground Stains