Permanent markers are essential in every craft room and household. They're great for creating lasting memories through artwork, writing labels on metals and plastics to help keep your home organized and even covering up scuffs on shoes.
Although the name suggests otherwise, if you accidentally get permanent marker on a surface you didn't intend, or one ends up in the hands of a very young, but very inspired creative, there are ways to remove it.
You can remove permanent marker from a variety of surfaces using basic household cleaners and materials. So, grab an old towel or washcloth that you don't mind a stain potentially transferring onto, and follow the instructions below to learn how to remove marker marks from any surface.
If you used a permanent marker to label plastic containers and now want to alter the labels, you can use a dry-erase marker to remove the writing. A dry-erase marker works well for getting permanent marker stains off of plastic because it contains rubbing alcohol.
Follow these steps:
There are a couple of other methods you can use on plastic if you don't have a dry erase marker lying around. Rubbing a pencil eraser over the marker can sometimes do the trick. Isopropyl alcohol also removes permanent marker from plastic. Simply wet a cotton ball with alcohol and rub it in circular motions until the stain disappears.
If you get a permanent marker stain on one of your favorite clothing items, don't fret. There are a number of different methods you can use to get it out of different fabrics, especially if you don't have stain removers on hand. Below are tips for removing permanent marker stains from cotton, leather and wool.
Hairspray is an effective way to remove permanent marker from cotton. Be sure that the hairspray contains alcohol, as not all hairspray products do. This component is critical for removing the stain.
Follow these three steps to clean your cotton item:
It's important that you don't touch the marker before you put it into the washing machine, or else you risk rubbing the stain deeper into the fabric.
You can clean permanent marker from leather without damaging the fabric using white vinegar as a stain remover.
Follow these three steps to clean your leather item:
Hairspray is also an effective way to remove permanent marker from wool. Instead of tossing the item in the wash after setting the stain with hairspray, you can hand-wash it to prevent damage to the item.
Follow these steps to clean your wool item:
Not only does toothpaste fight stains in your mouth, but it can also fight stains on your wood furniture or wood floors. The abrasive quality of toothpaste helps to gently remove the dye without dissolving it. It's best to use a baking soda toothpaste, but if you don't have one you can simply use regular toothpaste mixed with baking soda. Choose a toothpaste that's not gel, because it won't work.
Here's how to do it:
If you're removing Sharpie from unfinished wood surfaces, your best bet is to use hairspray. Wet a paper towel with non-oily hairspray and use it to rub the marker stain off. You'll likely need to repeat this process a few times and re-wet the paper towel a few times to get all of the marker out.
It turns out that hand sanitizer not only cleans your hands of germs but also to remove permanent marker from your skin:
If you have sensitive skin that reacts poorly to hand sanitizer, you may want to use just a small amount of isopropyl alcohol on a cotton swab to remove permanent marker mishaps from your skin.
A permanent marker mishap might end up on one of your upholstered furniture pieces, a stainless steel appliance, wall, carpet or glass item. If you have a magic eraser, that will often work well enough to remove permanent markers from the surface. If you don't have a magic eraser on-hand, check out a few alternative methods below!
Use rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from fabric upholstery, including microfiber upholstery. It's best to blot the area with the rubbing alcohol instead of rubbing as it's possible to actually massage the stain further into the fabric.
Follow these simple steps using rubbing alcohol:
Similar to plastic, dry-erase markers work well to remove permanent marker from metal surfaces. So, if permanent marker ends up on one of your stainless steel appliances, follow the steps below. Keep in mind, you may have to repeat this process a couple of times to fully remove the stain.
Toothpaste for the win, again! Toothpaste also works great for removing permanent marker from painted walls without causing damage. As previously mentioned, skip the gel toothpaste and ideally, choose one that contains baking soda. Then, follow these steps:
Clean magic erasers can typically remove permanent marker from walls if you have them in your cleaning arsenal already — though, for big stains, you may need to use a bit more elbow grease!
To remove permanent marker from the carpet, just like with upholstery, you can use rubbing alcohol. Remember, blot the area with the rubbing alcohol instead of rubbing so you don't rub the stain further into the carpet. Follow these steps below:
If permanent marker ends up on one of your glass items, such as a window or mirror, you can remove it with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol by doing the following:
In addition to working well to remove stains from walls and plastic, you can use dry-erase markers to remedy a situation where you may have mistakenly used permanent marker on a dry-erase board. In two steps, you can pretend as though nothing ever happened:
If you have any painted furniture pieces, such as cabinets or dressers, that end up with permanent marker on them, vegetable oil can do the trick.
There will be times (hopefully not often!) that permanent marker leaves a stain that you can't get out, no matter how much nail polish remover and elbow grease you use. You may go through every removal method you can find to remove permanent marker — olive oil, magic erasers, baby oil, makeup remover wipes, isopropyl alcohol, abrasive cleaners, etc. But some permanent marker stains are everlasting. After all, there's a reason it's called "permanent ink."
In such cases, you may need to get a little creative. Turn the ink stains on walls into a seemingly-intentional design and add more to it, rather than remove it. Use additional permanent marker colors to make a tie-dye shirt when you can't get the marker stains out. Think outside the box in these scenarios and you'll be surprised at what a happy accident it is!
You may have to repeat the steps laid out above a few times to acheive success, but with a little effort and patience, you can remove most permanent ink stains. In general, note that rubbing alcohol, paint thinner and nail polish remover will work for many non-porous surfaces, and toothpaste will usually remove permanent marker stains from porous surfaces. For additional cleaning hacks, be sure to check out our cleaning and maintenance tips.