Thrift Store Shoes

How to Remove Grease Pencil

By Erin Huffstetler | 04/07/2016 | 4 Comments
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We found some killer deals at thrift stores while we were on vacation last week, like all of these shoes that you see above. But a large number of our finds came from a store that uses grease pencil (aka China marker) to mark their prices. I hate that! Worse still, they write the prices on the sides of most of their shoes, which means the brand new pair of Keen sneakers that I found had a big $12.99 written on the side. Argh!

Still, $12.99 for a pair of Keens is just too good to pass up (they retail for around $90), so I bought them, and several other things, and decided it was high time we devised a way to remove grease pencil.

Grease Pencil Price Label

This pair of Merrells had the price written on the bottom, so we started with them.

When we got home, we started experimenting. First we tried rubbing alcohol. That worked, but required A LOT of elbow grease. So, my husband decided to try WD-40. He sprayed a little onto a rag, rubbed it into the markings, and it worked beautifully.

Merrell's with Grease Pencil Removed

Bye-bye grease pencil. Hello new-to-me shoes.

Keen Sneakers

Now, I can wear my new Keens without feeling like Minnie Pearl.

Removing Grease Pencil from Clothing

I was curious to see if this trick would also remove grease pencil from clothing, so I conducted a test to find out.

How to Remove Grease Pencil

I drew a big red “X” on this ribbed cotton hoodie.

Then, I folded up a paper towel, and put it inside the shirt behind the stain, so the grease pencil would transfer to it, rather than the back of the shirt.

I sprayed the grease pencil “X” liberally with WD-40. Then, I let it sit for a few minutes to give it a chance to go to work on the stain.

Treating Grease Pencil Stain on Clothing

I started by dabbing at the stain with a paper towel, but that wasn’t breaking up the grease pencil, so I resorted to rubbing. That worked, but it also smeared the dye around on the shirt. At this point, it looked like this test was going to be a big fat failure, but I kept at it. I sprayed the stain with WD-40 again, and continued to rub the stain.

X Gone

Before long almost all traces of the “X” were gone, and there was just a faint pink stain in the area that I had treated.

I let the shirt air dry because I wanted to see if the WD-40 would leave a stain behind. It did. There was a faint oil stain in the area that I had treated.

Shirt with Grease Pencil Stained Removed

Dish liquid is great for removing oil stains, so I squirt some on the stain, and rubbed vigorously. That removed the oil stain and the rest of the grease pencil stain.

So, WD-40 will indeed remove grease pencil from clothing. It takes some work, but I think that’s to be expected.

One Tip If You Decide to Try It: Use a folded up rag behind the stain, instead of a paper towel. The paper towel became saturated too quickly, and some of the color transferred to the back of the shirt. That left me with an extra stain to remove.

More Help with Tricky Stains

If you’re ever in a thrift store that writes their prices in permanent marker, I have a fix for that, too.

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Comments

  1. this worked great on a group of books that, as a young child, I decided to make look like a library and used a china marker to put big E, D, C for various types of reading materials found in my parents library. Did not go over very well with them, and I have now inherited the books, so wanted to get that off- so far it comes off of book jackets as well as the actual bindings- no stains- yay!

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