Is It Possible to Wash Fabric Markers? Update 06/2022

Fabric markers can be used to add detailed detail to hand-drawn art or might be given to a kindergartener for a colorful project. Before you or your children spend hours refining your fabric art, you’ll probably want to know how long it will last. Is it true that fabric markers may be washed away?

Because they use permanent ink or dye, fabric markers do not wash away. Fabric pens work similarly to Sharpies, however they normally come in a wider spectrum of colors. Most fabric markers are labeled “waterproof” to signify that they can withstand being washed.

We’ll look at different markers, how to use them, and which ones are appropriate for your project in this article.

Do Fabric Markers Wash Off

What is a Fabric Marker?

Fabric markers are pens that contain permanent ink or dye that won’t wash out of fabric. These pens let you draw precise, smooth detail on a variety of surfaces. They come in a variety of colors and styles, and you can get them with fine and wide tips, as well as brush tips for added artistic flair, just like Sharpies.

Fabric pens are a fun and easy way to add color to your clothes, bags, and home without the mess that dyes and paints can cause. You may use fabric pens for quick touch-up chores like filling in a faded section of text on your favorite t-shirt because they are such a fine drawing tool.

To use a fabric pen, place the textile object you wish to adorn on a flat, single layer of material and draw on it. Then, much like on paper, uncap your marker and draw your design!

Types of Fabric Markers

When most people talk about fabric markers, they’re talking about permanent markers. However, washable fabric pens are also available, so let’s take a closer look at these two types of tools and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Permanent Markers

Washable markers employ a different ink or color than permanent markers. Water does not dissolve this ink. It’s because of this that you can safely wash your cloth art.

Sharpies, one of the most popular types of permanent markers, are certainly recognizable to you. Do you recall doodling a Sharpie design on your hand during a tedious school class? That design must have taken a long time to wash off.

Sharpies employ ink that is similar to (but not identical to) cloth markers and does not dissolve in water. Sharpies can be used on cloth as well because of this, albeit they don’t come in as many colors and forms as fabric markers.

Why would you want to use a fabric pen that is permanent? Cloth markers are ideal for a variety of crafts, including t-shirt design, rubber-stamping fabric, and creating unique journal covers.

Fabric pens can be used to create a permanent, vibrant piece of art on almost any type of textile!


The best part about using permanent fabric markers is that you can wash the textile object you painted later without losing the beautiful art you created! We’ll go over how to wash cloth art a little later, but the most important thing to remember is that these pens create lasting images.

Fabric markers also provide the accuracy and control that some art endeavors require. Many various mediums can be used to embellish cloth, but each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Fabric paints, for example, are excellent for covering big areas but not for fine detail work. Fabric pens shine in this situation!

In comparison to paints or dyes, fabric pens are also a less messy option. As a result, this tool is ideal for any art project involving children!


Permanent fabric markers, like any other artistic medium, have their own set of drawbacks.

First, whatever you create is permanent once you touch the tip of the pen to the material. Before you begin, you should carefully consider your design and possibly draw it out in pencil to help you avoid making any irreversible mistakes in your project. With diligence and a particular hidden ingredient, which we’ll discuss later, you can remove an error.

Second, most fabric pens aren’t as effective on darker fabrics. Consider drawing on a piece of black construction paper with a forest-green pen; the green ink won’t show up against the black paper, will it? Fabric pens, as a result, stand out the most against lighter-colored materials.

Finally, the quality of your tools has an impact on the quality of your ultimate product, as it does with most things. Fabric pens aren’t all made equal; some produce better art than others.

Wash-Out Fabric Marker

Wash-out fabric markers use ink that dissolves in warm water when the cloth is cleaned. A design produced with these pens should be completely erased after one washing machine cycle with warm water.

Why do you need wash-out fabric markers when most fabric pens have the advantage of not washing out?

Some textile art creations, on the other hand, will never need to be washed. Tapestries on the wall, for example, should never be exposed to water. You might find it easier to utilize washable markers for those projects because they are easier to clean up and repair mistakes with.

Washable fabric markers are also great for marking patterns and sewing directions while working on a project because those helpful lines will disappear after the project is washed!


Fabric pens that are water-soluble are a great option for a variety of crafts.

For example, you might want to explore utilizing washable markers with your children. You won’t have to worry about any “accidental” patterns drawn on whatever your kids are wearing on that particular day! (Or, for that matter, on the walls, floor, or tablecloth!)

Washable fabric pens are also useful for scribbling helpful instructions while working on a project. These pens are frequently used by sewers to mark the fabric while cutting out pattern pieces for sewing projects. This is a simple way to mark where darts, pleats, or buttons should be placed.

You may also draw an embroidery design with washable fabric pens. Then you’ll be able to see where you should embroider your pattern. You can wash away the inked design once it’s finished, leaving only the stitching!


While washable fabric pens are ideal for some tasks, most fabric art projects, especially those involving clothing, require ink that will not wash away. You don’t want to spend hours designing a stunning geometric pattern on your pants just to have it disappear in the wash!

Do Fabric Markers Wash Off?

Permanent fabric markers do not wash out, to put it simply. The ink in these pens is not soluble in water. This means that water won’t dissolve the ink and won’t be able to get it off the surface.

If you’re curious in how permanent markers work, here’s some science: the ink in permanent markers is made up of a resin, a colorant, and a solvent.

In these pens, the colorant is usually a very finely powdered pigment that gives the ink its brilliant color. The pigment is carried by a liquid called a solvent, which is commonly alcohol. Finally, when you write or draw with the pen, the resin is a polymer that bonds the color pigment to the surface.

The resin used in ink is the main distinction between washable and non-washable markers. The resin in Permanent Link does not dissolve in water.

Here’s the secret cleaning element I mentioned earlier: rubbing alcohol can destroy permanent ink if you ever need to scrub it off yourself, your artwork, or your child!

To ensure that the ink remains brilliant and colorful after washing, most fabric pen makers recommend performing a few extra measures. Continue reading to learn more about this!

How Long Do Fabric Markers Take to Dry?

Before moving, touching, or heat-setting the fabric, most fabric marker designs require at least 30 minutes of resting time. Allowing these designs to rest for 24 hours before washing is a good idea.

Because the manufacturer’s instructions may differ from pen to pen, you should always follow them. Some fabric pens, for example, propose ironing the finished artwork to heat-set the ink before washing the fabric, while others recommend air drying.

How Long Do Fabric Markers Last?

The lifespan of a fabric marker is determined by numerous factors. First, the pen will last longer if the cap is tightened after each use. Second, the marker only lasts until the ink runs out, so its lifespan is determined by how much ink is initially placed inside the plastic cartridge.

Manufacturers will sometimes use wording like “you can color 15 t-shirts before the ink runs out” to imply how long their brand of marker will last.

The more you use it, the shorter it will last, just like any other pen. You might have a collection of fabric markers in your craft room that you use only once or twice a year. They’ll probably last a long time!

However, if you use your markers every day, they will quickly run out of ink.

Fabric pens will ultimately run out of ink, but their patterns will last forever. Even after many washings, they should not fade or wash out.

How Can You Get Washable Marker Out of Fabric?

Most washable markers use ink that can be removed from most types of textile after a single warm-water wash cycle in the washing machine. This is something that many manufacturers are proud of, and they emphasize it in their product descriptions.

In order to treat a problematic washable marker stain, follow the procedures below.

  1. Using hot water, rinse the fabric. Then throw it in the washer on its own–you don’t want the ink to ruin your other clothes!
  2. Remove the item from the wash after the first rinse cycle and soak it in Clorox for one hour.
  3. Return the item to the washer and start the cycle again.

Washable marker stains should be easier to remove with these methods. However, most fabric pens are permanent, and the ink will not wash out. If you need to erase permanent ink from the cloth, blot it with a rubbing alcohol-soaked paper towel. If you splatter ink on yourself or your drawing surface while working, this will come in handy!

How to Keep Fabric Markers From Bleeding

Fabric markers should never leak in the wash due to their permanent ink. However, they are prone to bleeding when in use.

To begin with, the loosely woven material can snag on pen nibs, causing the pen to stutter, catch, and blot your design. Loosely woven materials are likewise more likely to spread ink. To avoid this type of leakage, some artists propose using gel pens to edge your design.

Any bleeding in your pattern will be reduced if you choose a smooth, tightly woven material. Instead of snagging on every other thread, your pen will glide across the surface.

Ironing your material before you start will help prevent any lumps from catching your pen. (However, check to see if the fabric is iron-friendly first!)

You’ll also want to keep the overall picture in mind as you touch the fabric with your pen. Instead of hesitating with the pen lying on the material and causing blots, make a full stroke of the pen at once.

How to Use Fabric Markers

Permanent fabric markers

A fabric marker can draw pretty much whatever you can write on paper with a pen on fabric. These ideas and suggestions can help you get some ideas!

  1. Before drawing on your cloth, wash, dry, and iron it (as long as the material you chose is safe to iron, which you should check first).
  2. Before using your marker, shake it to ensure that the ink has soaked the pen nib, unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise.
  3. If at all feasible, arrange your cloth so that it produces a flat sketching surface. If you’re going to draw on a pillow or plush animal, make an effort to keep it motionless!

Once you’ve mastered that, think of some creative ways to use your fabric pens.

For precise work, such as lettering, many artists utilize fabric pens. Depending on your ability level, you may wish to start by writing in pencil. Brush-tip fabric markers can also be used to lend a fun hand-lettered look to this!

Fabric markers work well with stamps and stencils as well. To produce a mess-free stamped design, color over the surface of a rubber stamp with your marker, then press the stamp to the cloth. When using a stencil, keep the pen erect to avoid it slipping beneath the stencil and blurring the edge of your design.

It’s always a good idea to heat-set your cloth before washing it to guarantee that the quality of your pattern doesn’t deteriorate. This can be accomplished by softly ironing it or putting it in the dryer for a few minutes. Allowing your artwork to sit for 24 hours before washing is also recommended by some artists.

How to Use Fabric Markers on T-Shirts

In general, a t-shirt can be drawn on just like any other cloth surface. But, because t-shirts are such a popular canvas for fabric-marker painting, here are a few techniques just for them!

Because t-shirts have two layers (the front and back), you’ll want to keep any ink from leaking through to the reverse layer. Before you start drawing, iron freezer paper to the inside of the shirt to avoid bleed-through. When you’re through, the paper will easily peel away.

You can also insert a piece of cardboard between the layers if you’re in a hurry, however this will shift about as you’re drawing.

T-shirt fabric can be scratchy and loosely woven, causing pens to get caught in the weave. Some artists recommend outlining your designs on t-shirts using special gel pens to avoid bleeding among the coarser threads of the weave.

How Do You Wash Clothes After Using Fabric Markers?

likely to occur. Fabric marker patterns are completely safe to wash.

Most importantly, read the manufacturer’s directions before washing your fabric-marked apparel. These are usually seen on the pen’s packaging. If you can’t find it, try searching for the brand online to see if you can discover directions.

Allowing a finished product to sit for at least 24 hours is recommended by most brands. After 24 hours, many (but not all) manufacturers advocate heat-setting the ink.

Turn your iron to medium-low heat without steam to heat-set your design. Iron the item gently on the wrong side for 3-5 minutes (but you should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions!).

If your item isn’t flat enough to iron, such as a sneaker or plush animal, instead of ironing it, put it in the dryer for ten minutes to heat set it.

For the initial wash, some artists recommend washing the object in cool water or even hand-washing it. Most manufacturers, however, advise that the ink can be washed with warm water.

All of this is to say that your design should be permanent as soon as you sketch it on the fabric, but it never hurts to be cautious!

What to Look for When Buying Fabric Markers

How can you know which marker will work best for your project? Here are a few important qualities to think about.

  • Assorted Colors Some arts and craft stores sell single fabric pens, although these pens are usually sold in a set. Before making a purchase, think about the diversity and types of colors included in the set.
  • The quality of the ink This one is a little difficult because, of course, every seller wants you to believe that the ink in their pens is top-notch! Your best bet is to try out a few different kinds and pick one that has a smooth but not too runny ink.
  • The Drying Procedure (air dry or heat set). If the markers require heat-setting, the manufacturer’s instructions should state so.
  • Pen Tip Size and Style. You’ll need a very fine-tipped fabric marker if you want to draw elaborate mandalas all over your white shoelaces! Before you buy a pen, think about the size and form of the tips.

Best Fabric Markers

Here are a few examples of products to give you an idea of what’s available on the market.

Permanent Markers

ALL Permanent Fabric Markers Pens (Crafts 4)

Crafts 4 All Fabric Markers for Clothes - Pack of 12 No Fade, Dual Tip Permanent Fabric Pens - No Bleed, Machine Washable Shoe Markers for Fabric Decorating - Laundry Marker, Erases Stains Easily

This bundle of 12 professional-grade pens works well on fabrics.

Each pen’s dual tips allow for larger or finer pen strokes, making it ideal for calligraphy and intricate drawing.

These tried-and-true pens won’t bleed in the washing machine.

The ink is non-toxic and suitable for use by children.

Fabric Markers that are Non-Toxic and Machine Washable

Best Fabric Markers (Pack of 24 Pens) Non-Toxic - Set of 24 Individual Colors - No Duplicates - Bullet Tip - Machine Washable Paint - Perfect for Writing on Clothes, Clothing, Jeans, Pants, and Shirts

This budget-friendly choice comes with a set of 24 bullet-point-tip pens. The hues span from rainbow to neon, giving you a wide selection of options to choose from!

The ink in these pens is nontoxic, permanent, and washable.

These colorful drawing tools aren’t best suited to highly detailed work due to the bullet tips, but the range of colors make it an excellent beginner bundle.

Temporary Fabric Markers

Wash-Out Fabric Marker by Eatsleepdoodle

Eatsleepdoodle Original Doodle Wash-Out Fabric Marker Set (Pack of 10) Double-Ended Felt Tip Markers: Classic Colors

This collection of 12 double-tipped pens can be used on a variety of materials, including fabric and paper. Only one machine cycle is required to remove the ink!

This set has been tested to Toy Standard, which means that everything included is safe for kids; it does not present a choking hazard and the ink is nontoxic.

These pens are great for kids!

Magic Pens from Splat Planet

Splat Planet Color in Zoo, Safari and Jungle Animals T-Shirt with 10 Non-Toxic Washable Magic Pens - Color in and Wash Out and Color in Again T-Shirt… (Age 5-6) White

A color-in t-shirt and a set of markers are included in this entertaining Splat Planet Magic kit!

This fantastic gift idea allows children to recolor the t-shirt after each wash.

Ten rainbow-colored, washable, non-toxic pens are included in the package, which are ideal for small hands.



Fabric markers are an excellent method to add a personal touch to a favorite t-shirt or to create your own work of art. Fabric pens work similarly to paper pens, however they can be permanently embedded in cloth to make them washable.

Artists can use these flexible tools to add precise detail to cloth art. They’re so simple to use that they’re a terrific way for kids to learn about painting.

What type of fabric art do you create? Do you have a favorite fabric pen brand? Please let us know in the comments section below!


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