How to Get Sharpie Off of Vans

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Surfers often choose Vans as their preferred footwear.
Surfers often choose Vans as their preferred footwear. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Since Paul Van Doren opened their first store in Anaheim, California in 1966, Vans has become a household name in sneakers. Marketed to the boarding and alternative sports community, Vans shoes come in an eclectic array of styles and colors. Like any piece of apparel made from cloth or rubber, they may become stained with Sharpie permanent marker. In the event that your Vans have an unfortunate run-in with a Sharpie, you can use a handful of techniques to lighten and, optimally, remove the stain.

Things You'll Need

  • Milk
  • Bleach
  • Clean rag
  • Hairspray
  • Spot remover
  • Silicone lubricant
  • Nail polish remover
  • Toothpaste

Soak the stained portion of the shoe in milk until some of the marker color seeps into the milk. Remove the colored milk and replace it with new milk until the stain disappears.

Apply a small mixture of equal parts water and bleach to the stain with a clean rag. Gently wipe the stain until it disappears. Do not attempt to use this method on colored fabric as it may bleach all color away from the area.

Spray a small amount of hairspray to the stain. Blot the stain with a clean rag and wash the shoe immediately after the stain removes.

Apply a small amount of spot remover to the stain with a clean rag. Apply until the stain disappears or lightens.

Spray a small amount of silicone lubricant over the stain. Rub the stain with a clean rag until the stain lightens. Reapply the lubricant and rub the stain as needed.

Pour a small amount of nail polish remover over the stain and rub it in with a clean rag. Repeat until the stain lightens or disappears.

Squirt toothpaste over the stain and rub it into the area with a moistened, clean rag. Reapply and rub the toothpaste into the stain until it lightens or disappears. Keep the rag moist during application.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you think the remover may damage or discolor the fabric, apply a small amount to a less-visible part of the shoe and judge the results before applying to the rest of the shoe.

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