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Get the Lead Out: How to Clean Graphite Stains

Here at, we use pencils on a daily basis (obviously!). One of the best things about using a pencil is the fact that you can always erase your mistakes, but when your pencil’s graphite ends up on something other than your paper, it can be difficult to clean up. If you’re looking for how to clean stains left behind by your pencils, fear not, because the Pencil Pushers at are here with some tips to help you “get the lead out” of your shirt, car seat, carpet or wherever you may find it!

How to clean stains

How to Clean Stains

Erase it!

That’s right, try the eraser. Unsurprisingly, one of the best ways to get graphite off of any surface is with a soft eraser. Gently rub the eraser on the stained material, making sure not to distort the surface with too much pressure, and wipe away any eraser dust that may have been left behind. This should be the starting point for the removal of any graphite stain.

Liquid Detergent

If a soft eraser failed to remove the stain, apply a few drops of liquid detergent to the affected area and rub gently with a soft, damp cloth. If possible, launder the stained fabric immediately after applying the detergent. Otherwise, wipe excess soap away with a damp cloth.

All Purpose Cleaner

If the stain is on a surface other than fabric, apply all purpose cleaner to the stain, let the cleaner sit for several minutes and wipe away with a damp cloth. They call it all purpose cleaner for a reason!

Vegetable Oil

If “all purpose cleaner” isn’t in your vocabulary, or if you’re looking for a green alternative, try applying vegetable oil to the stain and wiping the oil (and stain!) away with a damp cloth. Note: Do not apply vegetable oil to a fabric stain!

Baby Wipes

Don’t let the name deceive you; baby wipes can clean much more than babies. Though gentle, these wipes are often strong enough to remove graphite stains on solid surfaces and soft enough to avoid damaging the surface.


If you’re dealing with a porous surface (such as a bathtub, tile or porcelain) and a particularly stubborn stain, apply white toothpaste to the stain and let the toothpaste sit for several minutes. Scrub the dried toothpaste with an old, stiff-bristled toothbrush, wipe the surface area clean with a warm, damp cloth and watch the stain disappear!