When my daughter Britta was a toddler, she found a Sharpie 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 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!
Removing Permanent Marker From Just About Anything
How to Remove Sharpie from Clothes (and Upholstery)
There are a lot of options for getting permanent marker out of clothes and a variety of fabrics. Try:
- Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, aerosol hairspray, nail polish remover-contain alcohol that make them degreasing agents, able to get rid of those tough, grease stains that the washer can’t and helps dissolve permanent marker.
- WD-40 is actually a powerful, penetrating oil solution that can break down marker and ink.
- Distilled White Vinegar-Acetic acid is one of the main compounds in vinegar. This makes it a potent cleaner.
- Cream of tartar and lemon juice-Cream of tartar is an acid salt, and combining it with another acid, like lemon juice, makes a potent cleaning paste.
- Regular toothpaste (not gel)-an abrasive and a gentle detergent combined.
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!
How to Get Permanent Marker Off of Wood (Furniture and Floors)
To get sharpie off of 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.
Bonus Tip: Test any of these methods in an inconspicuous spot first to ensure that you won’t remove the stain or varnish on your wood.
Removing Sharpie Marker from 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! You do, however, still 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.
How to Get Sharpie Off of Walls
Walls are the favorite drawing surface of every child when it comes to permanent marker! To remove the marker, use:
- Rubbing alcohol and aerosol hairspray contain alcohol, making them natural degreasing agents. This allows them to helps dissolve permanent marker on walls.
- Regular toothpaste (non-gel) is a light abrasive and a gentle detergent combined.
- Magic Eraser has a fine sandpaper-like structure that contains the organic base melamine that and other compounds, creating a plush foam.
- Lemon essential oil is composed of monoterpene Limonene and beta-Pinene, giving it a cleansing ability that’s perfect for removing sharpie from walls.
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.
How to Remove Permanent Marker from Carpet
Like I mentioned earlier, when it comes to carpet, I’ve had great success in removing permanent marker with rubbing alcohol! Other products you can use are, 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.)
Cleaning Permanent Marker Off of Other Furniture/Microfiber Upholstery
To remove permanent marker from furniture fabric 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 including microfiber upholstery are:
- The alcohol in rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover make them perfect degreasing agents. This means they can break down and dissolve permanent marker ink on furniture.
- Regular, non-gel toothpaste serves as a gentle abrasive and a mild detergent, and can help remove marker from furniture and upholstery.
- Baking soda
- Pencil eraser (yes, you read that right!)
- WD-40, which contains oils that can break down sharpie ink.
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.
How to Get Permanent Marker Off of Whiteboard
Who hasn’t accidentally written on a whiteboard 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. How you might ask? A white board is a non-porous surface, and a dry erase marker also contains a non-polar solvent.
Removing Permanent Marker from Paper & Laminated Items
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. You can also use nail polish remover for laminated items.
How to Clean Permanent Marker from Glass
For glass items, like windows, cups, or dishes, you can remove sharpie marker using:
- Regular toothpaste combined with baking soda (each is a gentle abrasive, so adding baking soda to the toothpaste helps it pack a bit more punch!)
- Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol (both contain alcohol that breaks down permanent marker)
- Dry erase marker (this works on whiteboards as well, and it’s incredibly effective)
Wipe your chosen material on with a paper towel. Repeat until the stain is gone.
How to Get Sharpie off Skin
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, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer, each of which is a degreasing agent that helps lift the stain from the skin. Wipe/rinse off quickly to avoid irritation from the acetone.
- Lotion (preferably baby lotion) which acts as a gentle, yet strong cleanser for sharpie marker stains
- Shaving cream, which has acidic ingredients combined with a high percent of water, making shaving cream a gentle cleanser for external surfaces.
- Sunscreen, which contains alcohol (like nail polish remover) that helps dissolve permanent marker.
How to Remove Permanent Marker from Screens
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.
Removing Permanent Marker from Plastic
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.
How to Get Sharpie Off of Metal
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!
How to Remove Permanent Marker from Granite, Laminate Floors, Countertops
When it comes to removing permanent marker from these types of floors and countertops, try rubbing alcohol. Granite can be a finicky material, so you want to make sure and not leave the alcohol on for too long to avoid etching. Other options SPECIFICALLY for laminate include, regular toothpaste (not gel) mixed with a bit of baking soda, or magic eraser. Laminate is generally super smooth, so it should be easy to clean!
Getting Permanent Marker Off of Tile
Other floors and countertops, such as tile, should be relatively easy to clean, but you may have to use a bit more elbow grease to clean. 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.
How to Remove Permanent Marker from a Butcher Block
Last but not least, how to remove permanent marker from a 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.