When my daughter Britta was a toddler, she found a permanent marker that I had been using to label moving boxes. She then proceeded to draw all over the carpet, walls, and furniture of our rental home… the day before we moved! You can just imagine how my husband and I reacted upon finding Britta’s masterpiece. Let’s just say we weren’t quite as impressed with her handy work as she was. ;-)
Luckily, I remembered hearing somewhere that rubbing alcohol works can remove permanent marker from all kinds of surfaces. So I gave it a try, and it worked beautifully! That rubbing alcohol trick saved us from losing a very hefty deposit on our house. And I know I can’t be the only one who has stumbled upon a child drawing on walls, furniture, clothing, themselves etc. So today I’m bringing you a guide to removing permanent marker from just about anything!
How to Remove Permanent Marker From Just About Anything
1. Fabric & Upholstery
There are lots of options for getting permanent marker out of fabric! Try rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, aerosol hairspray, nail polish remover, WD-40, distilled white vinegar, cream of tartar and lemon juice, or regular toothpaste (not gel).
Use a towel to dab the product of your choosing onto the stain rather than rubbing it. Dabbing at the stain helps to make sure you’re not just working the stain further into the fibers. You should also put an old towel or a few paper towels between the stain and the other side of the item, to absorb the ink and keep the stain from transferring to any other part of the item.
Take delicate fabrics like satin or silk to a dry cleaner. Make sure you show them where the stain is. One exception – I read a comment from someone on another site that said they were able to get marker out of a wool blazer with hairspray. I’m still not sure I would be brave enough to tackle wool on my own, but it might be worth a try!
2. Wood Furniture & Floors
For permanent marker on wood, try using rubbing alcohol, peanut butter, or regular toothpaste. Blot your treatment of choice onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Repeat until the stain is gone.
Test any of these methods in an inconspicuous spot first to ensure that you won’t remove the stain or varnish on your wood.
3. Leather Clothing & Furniture
I thought for sure that leather would be a lost cause after a permanent marker attack, but that isn’t the case! But you will want to treat leather stains as soon as possible. Use aerosol hairspray, distilled white vinegar or sunscreen. (Weird, right?) Dab or spray the solution onto the stain, then blot to remove.
Walls are the favorite drawing surface of every child! Try rubbing alcohol, aerosol hairspray, regular toothpaste (not gel), a Magic Eraser, or lemon essential oil.
However, be very careful when rubbing walls! If you rub too hard you can remove the paint, especially with a Magic Eraser. Just like with clothing, it’s actually better to dab the stain rather than rubbing so you don’t spread the ink around.
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve had great success with rubbing alcohol on carpet in the past! But you can also use distilled white vinegar, aerosol hairspray, or shaving cream. Dab the stain rather than rubbing it so you don’t rub the stain further into the carpet fibers. Follow that by blotting with a clean, damp rag to lift the stain remover out of the carpet. Or better yet, use your iron to help lift the stain out! (Check out the link below to see how it works.)
6. Other Furniture
To remove permanent marker from fabric, wood, or leather furniture, see the methods listed above.
For laminate furniture, one of the easiest (and most surprising!) ways to remove permanent marker is to draw over it with a dry erase marker! Wipe off the dry erase marker with a cloth or paper towel.
Other methods that may work depending on the type of furniture include rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, regular toothpaste, baking soda, pencil eraser, or WD-40. And as a word of warning, be sure that you DON’T use a Magic Eraser on high gloss furniture! It will rub off the finish.
7. White Board
Who hasn’t accidentally written on a white board with a permanent marker? Luckily it’s easy to remove. Simply draw over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker, and then wipe the marks away.
I’m sure you all have well-behaved children who would never draw in library books ;-) But if they do at some point, there is a solution. Dab a little bit of nail polish remover onto the stain. Be sure not to saturate the paper! Soak up the nail polish remover with a clean towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.
For glass items, like windows, cups, or dishes, you can use regular toothpaste combined with baking soda, or WD-40, nail polish remover, dry erase marker or rubbing alcohol. Wipe your chosen material on with a paper towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.
I remember drawing marker “tattoos” on my skin with friends when I was a kid. My mom was not thrilled, to say the least! But permanent marker comes off skin relatively easily with a myriad of common household products. Try nail polish remover, lotion, shaving cream, sunscreen, rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
Be extra careful on these delicate screens! You can use regular toothpaste (not gel) or baby wipes. I would try baby wipes first and very carefully wipe the screen. If that doesn’t work, move on to some toothpaste. Dab toothpaste onto the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe off with a clean cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.
You can use a pencil eraser, sunscreen, Goo-Gone, dry erase marker or rubbing alcohol to remove permanent marker from plastic. Any of those should work on most types of plastic, from plastic bins, to toys, furniture etc.
For metal items like stainless steel appliances, use rubbing alcohol, dry erase marker or regular toothpaste. Marker should wipe right off after applying any of those!
Smooth tile should be relatively easy to clean, but you may have to use a bit more elbow grease to clean textured tile. Try using a toothbrush or cotton swab to get into the nooks and crannies. You can clean tile with regular toothpaste, aerosol hairspray, or a magic eraser.
Granite can be such a finicky material to clean! Give rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide a try. Be sure not to leave them on too long to prevent etching the granite.
16. Laminate Floors & Countertops
Laminate is generally super smooth so it should be easy to clean as well. Use regular toothpaste (not gel) mixed with a bit of baking soda, rubbing alcohol or a magic eraser.
17. Microfiber Upholstery
My son and daughter-in-law have microfiber couches, and they’ve informed me that they are surprisingly easy to clean! They like to use rubbing alcohol and a damp sponge for most stains, but hydrogen peroxide or nail polish remover should work as well.
18. Laminated Items
This tip is especially for teachers! If you get permanent marker on any laminated sheets, you can use nail polish remover to rub it off.
19. Butcher Block
Pour salt on the stain and use half a lemon to scrub the stain. Let it sit overnight and wash off in the morning.