When I came to Taiwan to teach English I brought with me my assortment of office attire I’d been wearing around the office at my previous job.

Nothing too top of the range, but I became quite fond of Geoffrey Beene’s slim fit shirt offerings and paired them with some fitted Taro Cash trousers. Cheap enough to be affordable and decent quality enough to look good.

Upon arriving in Taiwan I’ve thus far been disappointed with the local clothing options. Shirts are ill fitted and baggy, or worse still offered in a short sleeve option and pants come in a range of styles from slightly boxy to Spongebob Squarepants boxy and everything inbetween.

I short, I’ve been dreading the decisions that will need to be made as my local supply of clothing gives in to wear and tear.

Thankfully thus far, despite three buttons coming out in the wash and a shirt collar wearing through – everything Taiwan has thrown at my clothes has been repairable.

…well everything until now.

A few months ago I was in the middle of a class when one of my students started to point at my chest and exclaim something in Chinese. It wasn’t long before the rest of the class picked it up and before I knew it I was staring down the barrel of three distinct red blots on previously white shirt.

Somehow my whiteout marker had managed to not just streak my shirt with a stray flick of the nib, but to actually leave blobs of ink on it.

Immediately I wanted to go home and do everything I could to save the shirt but then I realised I had no idea. After battling through the rest of the class I finally managed to get home and hit the internet in search of answers.

Armed with several methods to try I set about putting them into action…

…a few hours later I hung my head in shame and resigned to the fact that I was never going to have a clean shirt again. This in itself didn’t bother me, except for the prominent position of the red blots leaving my shirt virtually unwearable without a tie.

Baby wipes had absolutely no affect on the stains, even when rubbed gently with a toothbrush and rag held underneath to transfer the stain.

Rubbing alcohol had no affect on the stain.

I did have some limited success with applying dry eraser cleaning fluid directly to the spots and gently rubbing with a toothbrush, but it was nowhere near enough to remove the stain; just to gradually lighten it up to a certain point at which no more could by transferred over to the towel underneath.

A lot of the suggestions on the internet refer to Colgate’s Murphy’s Oil Soap, which seems to be some sort of wood cleaner. Unfortunately outside of the US I’m not sure if it’s available and by all accounts it’s not available locally here in Taiwan.

With one shirt down and four remaining I became more then slightly annoyed when the exact same thing happened just last week but this time in green. Once again I looked down and was disheartened to see that my stupid green whiteboard marker had managed to leave two blobs of ink on the front of my shirt.

This time the stains are off to one side on the front so even a freaking tie won’t hide them. For all occasions but the classroom, my shirt is ruined.

The culprit it seems appears to be my refill technique for my whiteboard markers. Even slightly too much marker fluid back into the marker pens can appear to cause a buildup of fluid that sprays itself onto anything nearby when you take off the marker lid.

In the meantime whilst I fiddle around with my refill technique, anyone got any ideas on how to get these bloody stains out. I’m well aware the white shirt’s stain has set ages ago but maybe I can still save the blue one?

As I continue teaching I can see this being a recurring problem. If it’s not blotches of ink it’s only a matter of time before some kid runs past with a marker in hand not paying attention that’s going to leave a mark.

I’m down to three clean shirts now and would rather not lose all my much loved office gear to the perils of teaching English abroad.

…little help?