Setting Permanent Marker on Clothes

Whether you are assigning or decorating clothing, sometimes you want that marker not to be washed away. This guide is about setting permanent marker on clothes.

February 13, 2011 Flag

Do you have a child or teen's birthday coming up? How about a church youth group? Here is something we did that youth of all ages enjoy. We bought a package of colored Sharpies. They come in a set of 24 and might be a wee bit on the expensive side, but are worth it for the different shades of colors you get.

Have the young ones, and young at heart bring a t-shirt, pair of jeans, or anything else they have permission to decorate. Place a stiff piece of cardboard in between the front and back sides of the clothing. Lay out the markers on the table and let them go to it.


I have found that after they air for about an hour it helps to heat set the clothing in the dryer for about 10 to 20 minutes. Airing helps get rid of the lingering odored from the Sharpies.

By McCollonough from Nashville, TN

February 14, 20110 found this helpful

Great Idea! Can you tell me if they run once you wash an item? I am making an apron for my grand daughter and will use this idea to make the detailed lines if they don't run when washed. Thanks for your help!

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February 16, 20110 found this helpful

My daughter did that to a pair of her jeans when she was in high school. She used a black sharpie to draw some pictures on a good pair of jeans.After I got over the initial horror of her 'ruining' a good pair of pants, I thought it looked kind of neat. She ended up covering nearly every inch with drawings & writings. She got a lot of compliments on them too, from teens and adults! She wore them for years, those jeans fell apart before the marker wore off! It did fade of course (never ran),but never disappeared, so sometimes she'd just re-draw over her favorite stuff.

I imagine it would really look good with all the colored sharpies, maybe I'll get her back & let her twins do the same to a pair of their jeans with my huge collection of colored sharpies! LOL!

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February 17, 20110 found this helpful

That is a great idea I usually use Fabric paint!

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February 13, 20160 found this helpful

There are "fabric painting pens" that you can use also! I have used them and they are permanent ! I got them at Walmart.

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Anonymous Flag
October 24, 20160 found this helpful

July 12, 2005 Flag
1 found this helpful

How do you SET Sharpie Ink into clothes (primarily cotton or cotton blend t-shirts and also dennim pants/jeans).

I work at a Scout camp and at the end of each week all the staff and kids sign each other's camp shirts (or Jeans - mom's GOTTA love that! LOL). Anyway, last year, my daughter wore her t-shirt a lot and all the sharpie "permenant" ink came out in the wash - isolated case of NOT wanting it to come out, but I can't find anywhere to tell me how to make sure it DOESN'T come out!

Scouter James

August 27, 20050 found this helpful

I would iron it (as someone else suggested) and then soak it in cold strong saltwater (just as you do when dying a garment). Afterwards wash in cold water only.

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October 9, 20070 found this helpful

Someone told me that you could soak the article of clothing in vinegar before washing it.

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June 16, 20080 found this helpful

Someone told me to put it in the dryer first.

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July 9, 20131 found this helpful

Here are the exact full proof way on how to set ink into clothes. Items needed- Salt, Iron, White Cloth. These instructions included in the link are very simply. ***Always wash in cold water as less as possible or dry clean. You must place the item of clothing with ink on it onto ironing board. Place the white cloth over the area where you'd like the ink to to set, Iron over the cloth on med-high heat setting. After waiting 24 hours after ironing every area. Place 1/2 cup salt into washer with cold water, no detergent. Wash item. Then dry in dryer.

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September 1, 20160 found this helpful

May 22, 2012 Flag
0 found this helpful

This is the last week of school for me and I'm gonna have people sign my jeans, but if I wash them the Sharpie will come out. I need to know to get the ink to set so that it will be there for a while and not wash out after the 1st or 6th wash. I can't get out to get some special fabric ones, so help please!

By Kitty H.

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May 23, 20120 found this helpful

What a great idea!

Have you thought about going over the Sharpie signatures with fabric paint after your friends sign the jeans?

You can buy it at stores in the US like Michael's HobbyLobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and other craft stores. You used to be able to buy it at WalMart but most of the stores have really cut back on their craft departments.

Read the labels and directions carefully-several companies make a machine washable line of fabric paints, the paints come in gorgeous colours, some even sparkle and 'puff'.

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May 24, 20120 found this helpful

I don't know what kind of sharpies you use, but I have gotten accidental marks on my clothing that have NEVER washed out after numerous washing.

I had been using the brand name Sharpie (the expensive ones. I know you can get knock offs that have that name). I do use Sharpies to mark names on t-shirt necks that have stayed also. Sometimes alcohol will get some of the ink out, so stay away from that.

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Anonymous Flag
May 24, 20120 found this helpful

You can also hand stitch/embroider the signatures. I have a linen tablecloth from long, long ago that quests would sign and were embroidered over each signature. It looks really cool and you can use whatever color embroidery thread you would like for each signature. Yes, it's time consuming but it's worth it and a piece of artwork that cannot be washed away no matter what and will defintely last for your lifetime and beyond :-)

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September 10, 2006 Flag
0 found this helpful

I've drawn on my pants with Permanent Marker and I LOVE the designs I did. How do I preserve it?

Serena from WPB, FL

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September 11, 20060 found this helpful

Hand wash in cold with VERY mild soap, hang to dry.

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September 12, 20060 found this helpful

If the designs begin to fade too much.... trace over them again w/ the permanent markers, or maybe you will enjoyu the faded look also, for a while.

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September 12, 20060 found this helpful

If it is the design you love and not the color, draw over it with a bleach pen and you will have a white version. If you want both design and color, then I agree with previous posts, gentle washing and repeat as necessary. A sharpie marker should stay in fairly well.

TC in MO

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September 16, 20060 found this helpful

why not go over the designs with fabric paint?

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June 1, 20080 found this helpful

May 26, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

I made a homemade t-shirt with different colors of permanent Sharpie marker, and would like to know how to wash it without smearing the marker and ruining the t-shirt?


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May 27, 20050 found this helpful

i would wash it on permenant press with Woolite

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June 9, 20050 found this helpful

Before washing, place it in a dishpan or bucket with 1 part white vinegar to 5 parts water for an hour to set the colors. Rinse thoroughly in cold water, then wash by itself, on permanent press cycle, cold water.

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February 24, 20143 found this helpful

(Submitted via email)

The vinegar mixture made the marker run all over the shirt. Do not do this!


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October 19, 20160 found this helpful

The vinegar did the same to a t shiry, colors ran.

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