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Bright Ideas · Homekeeping · Cleaning · How to Get Sharpie Off Anything (Plastic, Clothes, Wood, & More!)
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How to Get Sharpie Off Anything (Plastic, Clothes, Wood, & More!)

Here's your exhaustive guide to cleaning up a permanent marker mishap! No matter what you're trying to remove marker stains from, you'll find the best way to do it here.

Everyone has a story about a Sharpie incident, right? Mine stars my daughter Britta, who was a toddler at the time. We were in the midst of moving, and while I was busy packing and cleaning, she came across the permanent marker I had been using to label boxes.

By the time I found her, she had already used that marker to draw on the carpet, walls, and furniture of our rental home—and this was the day before we moved!

You can imagine how my husband and I reacted upon finding Britta’s masterpiece. (Let’s just say we weren’t quite as impressed with her work as she was.) Luckily, I remembered hearing somewhere that rubbing alcohol can remove permanent marker stains from all kinds of surfaces. It ended up working beautifully, and saved us from losing a very hefty deposit on our house.

The Ultimate Guide To Removing Permanent Marker Stains

And since I know that I’m far from being the only one who has had to deal with the fallout of a marker mishap, this is a good opportunity for me to pay it forward! So today I’ll be sharing an extensive list of ways to remove permanent marker from almost anything. No matter what sort of item or material you’re dealing with, you’re sure to find a way to rescue it in the list below!

How To Remove Permanent Marker From…

1. Clothing, Fabric & Upholstery

There many different options you can use to remove permanent marker from fabric or upholstery, including:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Aerosol hairspray
  • Nail polish remover
  • WD-40
  • White vinegar
  • Cream of tartar
  • Lemon juice
  • Regular toothpaste (not gel)

Start by putting an old towel or a few paper towels between the stain and the other side of the item, if possible. This will help prevent the stain from spreading or transferring to another part of the item.

Dab a bit your stain remover of choice onto the marker stain using a washcloth. (Dabbing at the stain is important, because rubbing can force the stain deeper into the fibers.) Add more stain remover as necessary, and continue dabbing until the stain disappears.

For delicate fabrics like satin or silk, it’s best to trust those to a dry cleaner. Make sure to show them where the stain is when you drop the item off for cleaning.

2. Wood Furniture & Wood Floors

For permanent marker on wood furniture or wood floors, 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. Dab with a damp washcloth to remove the treatment and the stain, and continue until the stain is gone.

(Note: It’s always a good idea to test a cleaning method in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure that it won’t remove the stain, varnish, or seal from the wood.)

3. Leather Clothing & Leather Furniture

Treat permanent markers stains on any leather item as soon as possible. Use aerosol hairspray, white vinegar, or sunscreen. Dab or spray your stain remover of choice onto the stain, then blot with a damp cloth to remove.

4. Other Furniture

To remove permanent marker from fabric upholstery, wood furniture, or leather furniture, see the methods listed above.

To remove permanent marker from laminate furniture, one of the easiest (and most surprising!) ways to do it is to draw over it with a dry erase marker! Then you should be able to wipe all of the marker off easily with a wet cloth or paper towel.

Here are a few more methods that work well on furniture:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Nail polish remover
  • Regular toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Pencil eraser
  • WD-40
  • Magic eraser

(Note: Don’t ever use a magic eraser on high gloss furniture. They can easily remove the glossy finish.)

5. Carpet

I’ve had great success in the past removing Sharpie stains from our carpet using rubbing alcohol! Just make sure to blot the stain with the alcohol rather than rubbing at it, so that you don’t accidentally rub the stain further into the carpet fibers. Blot with a clean, damp rag to lift the alcohol and the stain 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.)

Related: This Is The Best Way To Remove Tough Carpet Stains

6. Walls

Walls are a favorite drawing surface for children everywhere, and frequently end up subjected to permanent marker mishaps. Use rubbing alcohol, aerosol hairspray, regular toothpaste (not gel), a magic eraser, or lemon essential oil to remove the marker stains from your walls.

(Note: Be very careful when rubbing walls! If you rub too hard you can end up removing the paint, especially with abrasive cleaners like magic erasers.)

7. White Board

Who hasn’t accidentally written on a white board with a Sharpie instead of a dry erase marker? It’s any easy mistake to make, and luckily for us, it’s also an easy mistake to fix! Simply draw over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker, and then wipe the marks away with a wet cloth.

8. Paper & Books

Had a child take a Sharpie to a library books? Dab a little bit of nail polish remover onto the stains, but avoid saturating the paper. Soak up the nail polish remover and marker stain with a clean cloth. Repeat until the worst of the marks are gone.

9. Glass

To remove permanent marker from glass items like windows, cups, or dishes, try any of the following methods:

  • Regular toothpaste mixed with baking soda
  • WD-40
  • Nail polish remover
  • Dry erase marker
  • Rubbing alcohol

Put your stain remover of choice onto a paper towel, and use it to wipe the stains off the glass.

10. Skin

I remember drawing black marker “tattoos” on my skin with friends when I was a kid. My mom was not thrilled, to say the least! But luckily for my mom (and everyone else), permanent marker comes off skin relatively easily with nail polish remover, lotion, shaving cream, sunscreen, rubbing alcohol, or hand sanitizer.

11. Screens

Be extra careful when removing Sharpie from a delicate screen! First, try using a baby wipe to very carefully wipe the screen stain off the screen. If that doesn’t work, try regular toothpaste next. Dab toothpaste onto the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, then wipe off with a clean cloth. Repeat until the stain is gone.

12. Plastic

To remove Sharpie from plastic bins, toys, furniture, and more, try any of the following items:

  • Pencil eraser
  • Sunscreen
  • Goo Gone
  • Dry erase marker
  • Rubbing alcohol

13. Metal

For metal items like stainless steel appliances, use rubbing alcohol, dry erase marker or regular toothpaste. Black marker stains should wipe right off after applying any of those!

14. Tile

You can clean permanent marker off of tile with regular toothpaste, aerosol hairspray, or a magic eraser. Smooth tile should be relatively easy to clean, but you may have to use a bit more elbow grease to clean textured tile. (It helps to use an old toothbrush or a cotton swab to get into all those nooks and crannies!)

15. Granite

Use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to remove Sharpie stains from granite. Avoid letting any cleaner sit on granite surfaces for too long. And definitely DON’T use white vinegar, which can easily damage granite.

16. Laminate Floors & Laminate Countertops

Laminate is usually quite smooth, making it relatively easy to clean. Use regular toothpaste mixed with a bit of baking soda to remove permanent marker, or try rubbing alcohol or a magic eraser.

17. Microfiber Upholstery

To clean any type of stain on microfiber upholstery, use rubbing alcohol and a damp sponge. Once the material is dry, use a brush to fluff up the fibers. You could also try using hydrogen peroxide or nail polish remover instead of alcohol.

Related: How To Make Your Microfiber Couch Look Brand New

18. Laminated Items

If you get permanent marker on any laminated sheets, you can use nail polish remover to wipe it off. (This tip is especially useful for teachers, so pass it on!)

19. Butcher Block

To remove permanent marker from butcher block items like counters or cutting boards, cover the stain with salt. Use half of a lemon to scrub the salt around the stain, let it sit overnight, then wash clean in the morning.

What About Ink Stains?

Looking for information about ink stains? Read my post at the link below to learn how to remove ink stains from clothing.

Related: How To Remove Ink Stains From Clothing With No Effort

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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