Will Pencil Wash Out Of Fabric? A Detailed Guide

We’ve all been there – you’re busy drawing or writing and accidentally make a mark on your clothes. You look down and see a grey smudge left behind from your pencil. Now what? Does pencil wash out of fabric or will that stain be there forever?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, pencil can be washed out of most types of fabric if treated properly and soon after the stain occurs. But the faster you act, the better your results will be.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting pencil stains out of fabric. We’ll discuss how to remove pencil marks from different materials, when to act, what homemade remedies work best, and when to call in the professionals for dry cleaning.

What Type of Fabric Do You Have?

Before attempting to wash pencil marks out of fabric, it’s important to determine the type of fabric you’re dealing with. Different fabrics may require different cleaning methods to effectively remove pencil marks without causing damage. Here are the three main categories of fabrics:

Natural Fibers

Common natural fibers include cotton, linen, silk, and wool. These fabrics are derived from natural sources such as plants or animals. Pencil marks on natural fiber fabrics can often be removed using simple home remedies.

For example, a mixture of mild soap and water can be used to gently scrub the affected area. It’s important to always test the cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration or damage.

If the pencil marks persist, professional dry cleaning may be necessary.

Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers, such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic, are man-made and are known for their durability and resistance to stains. Pencil marks on synthetic fiber fabrics can often be easily removed with a damp cloth or sponge.

Simply moisten the cloth or sponge with water and gently blot the pencil marks until they fade away. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive scrubbing, as this can damage the fabric. If the pencil marks are stubborn, a mild detergent diluted in water can be used.

Again, testing on a small area is recommended to ensure the fabric doesn’t get damaged.

Delicate/Specialty Fabrics

Delicate or specialty fabrics, such as silk satin, velvet, or leather, require extra care when it comes to stain removal. Pencil marks on these fabrics should be treated with caution to avoid causing irreparable damage.

It’s best to consult a professional cleaner who specializes in handling delicate fabrics. They will have the expertise and knowledge to safely and effectively remove pencil marks without compromising the fabric’s integrity.

Attempting to clean these fabrics at home can result in permanent damage or discoloration.

Remember, it’s always important to read and follow the care instructions provided by the fabric manufacturer. If in doubt, seek professional advice to avoid any potential damage to your fabric.

Act Fast for Best Results

Accidents happen, and sometimes we find ourselves with pencil marks on our favorite fabrics. Whether it’s a child’s drawing mishap or an unfortunate incident while taking notes, it’s important to act fast to increase the chances of successfully removing pencil marks from fabric.

1. Blot, Don’t Rub

When you notice a pencil mark on fabric, resist the urge to immediately start rubbing it. This can cause the lead to smear and further penetrate the fibers, making it more difficult to remove. Instead, gently blot the area with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb any excess graphite.

2. Pre-Treat the Stain

Before washing the fabric, it’s a good idea to pre-treat the stain. Apply a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent directly to the affected area. Gently rub the soap into the fabric using your fingers or a soft brush, working from the outside of the stain towards the center.

Let the soap sit on the stain for a few minutes to loosen the graphite.

3. Wash with Care

After pre-treating the stain, it’s time to wash the fabric. Check the care label on the garment to determine the appropriate washing method. In most cases, machine washing on a gentle cycle with cold water is safe for removing pencil marks.

Use a mild detergent and avoid using bleach or harsh chemicals, as they can damage the fabric.

Pro tip: Adding a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle can help break down stubborn pencil marks and brighten the fabric.

4. Air Dry and Inspect

Once the fabric has been washed, avoid using a dryer as heat can set the stain. Instead, air dry the garment or lay it flat on a clean towel to dry. After the fabric is dry, inspect the area to see if the pencil mark has been completely removed.

If there is still a faint mark, repeat the pre-treatment and washing process.

Remember: It’s always best to test any cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before treating the entire stain.

By acting fast and following these steps, you increase the chances of successfully removing pencil marks from fabric. However, keep in mind that not all stains can be completely removed, especially if they have been set or if the fabric is delicate.

If you’re unsure or dealing with a valuable item, it’s recommended to consult a professional cleaner for advice.

Home Remedies to Try

If you find yourself with a pencil stain on your favorite fabric, don’t panic! There are several home remedies you can try to remove the stain and salvage your garment. Here are some effective methods:

Soap and Water

One of the simplest and most common methods to remove pencil stains from fabric is to use soap and water. Start by dampening the stained area with water. Then, apply a small amount of mild soap or liquid detergent directly to the stain.

Gently rub the fabric together to create a lather, and then rinse with cold water. Repeat this process until the stain is gone. Pat the fabric dry with a clean towel and let it air dry completely.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is known for its stain-fighting properties and can be used to remove pencil stains from fabric. Start by dampening the stained area with water. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda directly onto the stain and gently rub it in with your fingers or a soft brush.

Let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then rinse with cold water. Repeat if necessary, and then wash the fabric as usual.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural bleaching agent and can help remove pencil stains from fabric. Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Gently rub the fabric together to work the lemon juice into the stain. Rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary.

Be cautious when using lemon juice on colored fabrics, as it may cause discoloration.


Hairspray can also be effective in removing pencil stains from fabric. Spray a small amount of hairspray directly onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to lift the ink. Rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary.

Wash the fabric as usual after treating the stain.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another common household item that can be used to remove pencil stains from fabric. Dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently dab the stained area. Blot the stain to lift the ink, being careful not to rub it further into the fabric.

Rinse with cold water and repeat if necessary. Wash the fabric as usual after treating the stain.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to test any home remedy on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying it to the stain. This will help ensure that the remedy does not cause any damage or discoloration to the fabric.

If the stain persists or the fabric is delicate, it’s best to consult a professional cleaner.

When to Consider Professional Dry Cleaning

While pencil marks on fabric can often be removed with a few simple steps, there are certain situations where it is best to leave the task to the professionals. Here are a few scenarios when you should consider taking your stained garment to a professional dry cleaner:

1. Delicate or Expensive Fabrics

If the fabric is delicate or expensive, it is always a good idea to let professionals handle the cleaning process. Fabrics such as silk, satin, cashmere, or wool require special care to avoid any damage or discoloration.

Professional dry cleaners have the necessary expertise and equipment to safely remove pencil marks from these types of fabrics without causing any harm.

2. Stubborn or Deep Stains

If you have tried removing the pencil mark yourself but it stubbornly refuses to budge, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Pencil marks that have been pressed into the fabric or have penetrated deep into the fibers can be more challenging to remove.

Professional dry cleaners have access to stronger cleaning agents and techniques that can effectively tackle these stubborn stains.

3. Time Constraints

If you are short on time and need the garment cleaned quickly, taking it to a professional dry cleaner is a wise choice. These experts are experienced in providing fast and efficient service, ensuring that your garment is ready for use in no time.

Additionally, professional dry cleaners can handle multiple garments at once, saving you valuable time and effort.

4. Special Garments or Accessories

If the stained item is a special garment or accessory with intricate details, such as beading, sequins, or embroidery, it is best to leave the cleaning process to professionals. These delicate embellishments require careful handling to ensure they are not damaged during the stain removal process.

Professional dry cleaners are trained to handle such items delicately and restore them to their original condition.

Remember, each situation is unique, and it’s important to assess the condition of the fabric and the severity of the stain before deciding whether to attempt stain removal yourself or seek professional help.

If in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult with a professional dry cleaner who can provide the necessary guidance and expertise.

How to Avoid Pencil Stains in the Future

Use Pens Instead

If you’re concerned about pencil stains on your fabric, one simple solution is to switch to using pens instead. Pens, especially those with waterproof ink, are less likely to leave visible marks on fabric.

They provide a clean and precise line without the risk of smudging or smearing that pencils often have. So, the next time you’re working on a project that involves fabric, consider using pens to avoid any potential pencil stains.

Cover Up When Drawing

Another effective way to prevent pencil stains on your fabric is to cover it up while you’re drawing or sketching. You can use a piece of scrap paper or a protective layer, like a plastic sheet or a cutting mat, to create a barrier between the fabric and the pencil.

This will help minimize the chances of the pencil lead transferring onto the fabric and leaving a stain. Remember to secure the cover firmly in place to ensure it doesn’t shift or move while you’re working.

Store Pencils Properly

Proper pencil storage is important not only for preserving the quality of your pencils but also for preventing any accidental stains on fabric. When pencils are stored loose in a bag or a drawer, they can easily come into contact with fabric surfaces and leave marks.

To avoid this, consider using a pencil case or a dedicated storage container with individual compartments for each pencil. This will keep your pencils organized and protected, reducing the risk of them staining your fabric.

By following these simple tips, you can avoid pencil stains on your fabric and enjoy a worry-free creative process. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your fabrics from unwanted marks and stains.

So, whether you choose to use pens instead, cover up while drawing, or store your pencils properly, you’ll be able to create without the fear of pencil stains.


In most cases, pencil stains can be removed from fabric if you use the right techniques. Quick action is key, along with trying gentle home remedies first before taking items to the dry cleaner. With some effort and the methods described here, you can likely get pesky pencil marks out of clothing and upholstery.

Just be sure to take preventative steps in the future to avoid those annoying grey smudges!

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