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Should I use washable and air-erasable markers?

Mary wants to know more about dealing with washable and air-erasable markers. Ami Simms has the answers.

Answered by Ami Simms

I just read your tip on marking pens and have some more questions.

Read the tip Mary refers to.

I found the blue washable marker did not fully remove when I brushed the marks with cold water. There were rings around the area where the pen was used. I had to wash the article completely in cold water to get the rings out. Any idea why?

And what about the air-erasable pens? Are they safe to use, or do they leave behind a residue that can come back to haunt one?

- Mary V.

Ami Simms
responds:

Yes, it’s sometimes true that the blue markings don’t come out completely when the marks are misted, dabbed, or brushed.

What happens is that the ink is wicked into the batting. When the fabric dries, the marks reappear. That’s why I recommend a good soak, but not a wash. (“Wash” to me means agitation plus detergent.)

Personally, I’m not a big fan of the “purple spit pens” (referred to in polite society as “air erasable pens”). There are two reasons I feel that way:

1. They look way too much like their sisters, the “blue spit pens” (a.k.a. washable markers). I’ve met many a quilter who needed a “blue” and grabbed a “purple,” marked an entire quilt, came back the next morning, and all her markings were gone! Major disappointment.

2. They come off far too quickly. I’ve had students bring them to applique class and if it’s a humid day or the student perspires, the marks dissappear in about three minutes. Much frustration.

In answer to your specific question about leaving a residue…I’m no chemist, but few things disappear into thin air, except missing socks, snack food left within 12 feet of a teenager, and my car keys that I swear I put on the corner of the kitchen counter last April and still have not turned up yet!

My guess is that there is something left on the fabric. Whether or not it would hurt the fabric is another question. Just to be sure, I’d give it a good soak anyway.




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