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How can I Remove Permanent Marker?

By Nychole Price
Updated May 16, 2024
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Permanent markers can be both a blessing and a curse. People can use them to label clothing, address boxes and make signs, but sometimes, marker ends up where it isn't wanted, like on the walls or on the leather couch. Fortunately, it isn't impossible to remove permanent marker stains. The different removal methods vary with the material that has been stained, but a melamine sponge, rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, or even just toothpaste can be used.

In order to remove permanent marker stains from wood furniture or a leather couch, a melamine foam sponge can be used. Cleaning products aren't necessary when using this sponge. Dampen it with warm water and rub the mark in a circular motion. The sponge will break apart as it removes the stain. Allow the couch or furniture to air dry, then vacuum.

When left uncapped, on the floor, permanent marker ink may soak into the carpet. Rubbing alcohol or oil-free hairspray may help remove the ink from the fibers. Saturate a clean cloth with the rubbing alcohol or hairspray and push it in to the stain. Repeat the process, using clean corners of the cloth, until it is removed. Rinse with clean water and soak up the excess with a dry towel.

To remove permanent marker stains on plastic, use nail polish remover. Soak a towel with the nail polish remover and scrub the permanent marker stain. It will take a lot of elbow grease to lift the stain from plastic. Wipe the plastic down with a water-soaked towel, then dry.

A a toothbrush and toothpaste may remove marker ink from a wooden table. For the best results, use a whitening toothpaste. Put the toothpaste on the toothbrush and scrub the stain in a circular motion. Start on the inside of the stain and work outwards, using a firm circular motion. Allow the toothpaste to sit for at least five minutes, then rinse thoroughly.

It can be difficult to remove marker from hard, white surfaces, such as countertops, but bleach and a lot of arm muscle may work. Saturate the surface with a bleach and water solution in a ratio of 1 part bleach to 2 parts water. Allow the stain to soak for ten minutes or more. Vigorously scrub the stain until it is removed, then allow to air dry.

To remove permanent marker stains on clothing, try spraying with hairspray and allow it to sit overnight. Scrub the stain with a toothbrush and wash in the hottest water suitable for the fabric. Check for stains before drying and repeat if necessary. Once the fabric is dried, the stain will be set in and much harder to remove.

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Discussion Comments
By turquoise — On Feb 20, 2013

@turkay1-- That's super easy. You just need to write over the permanent marker stain with an erasable marker and then use your dry eraser to erase it. This also works with some plastics.

If you have a dry erase board cleaner (the liquid solution), it helps to go over the stain with that as well.

By SteamLouis — On Feb 20, 2013

@anon278861-- Have you tried nail polish remover?

I think that's what my sister had done to remove marker stains from her tennis shoes. Vinegar might work too. Just give these a try.

By candyquilt — On Feb 19, 2013

How do I remove permanent marker from a dry-erase board? My daughter used the wrong marker. I don't want to have to throw it away.

By anon278861 — On Jul 09, 2012

How do I get permanent marker off Converse tennis shoes?

By anon265140 — On Apr 30, 2012

If you get permanent marker in your hair, is it dangerous?

By Judyb — On Aug 21, 2011

Please do not ever use a Magic Eraser to clean leather furniture. The way magic erasers work is to remove a fine layer of the finish on the leather. This will make the leather look very clean but will permanently damage the leather which in e long term will be expensive to fix.

By anon150558 — On Feb 08, 2011

On a cub scout outing we wrote names with black permanent marker on a clip-on clear plastic tags (the kind where they emboss white card stock with clear plastic). If Deep-Woods OFF came into contact with the tag, the permanent marker wiped off like it was dry erase. (kind of scary to think what we spray on our skin!)

By anon134527 — On Dec 15, 2010

Does anyone have any idea what would get permanent marker off of a shoe? [more specifically, the white part of a converse chuck taylor shoe.]

Thank you.

By anon65147 — On Feb 11, 2010

I fly for a living, single pilot and often, the best source to write on is the windscreen (it's glass). Once I used a permanent marker (which was in the aircraft and I thought was a dry erase). The mechanic said, "No problem, brake fluid takes it right out." It does!

I'd suggest this for hard, nonpenatrable surfaces without hesitation -- it works. For other things such as fabrics and carpets, it may work, but be careful. Test an area.

I believe the brake fluid has petroleum bases to it, so you may need an alternative, follow-up cleaning to remove this after removing the permanent marker. Huey Pilot

By anon62590 — On Jan 27, 2010

How can I get permanent marker from my daughter's hair? Please help. I need it out ASAP. thanks!

By anon58674 — On Jan 03, 2010

anon57371 you're right!

By anon57371 — On Dec 22, 2009

Well i'm doing a science project on this and i can't find anything that helps with my research paper! It's totally hard.

By cazzam — On Jun 04, 2009

A yellow post-it note turned the pocket (inside and outside) of my light pink pants yellow, when I washed and dried them. How can I get the yellow out?

By facmohideen — On Jun 03, 2009

Can I remove fabric paint from cotton cloth?

By housemom28 — On Jan 30, 2009

Try using the Amodex ink and stain remover. Its rated #1 for removing Permanent ink and has worked for me *many* times. It sure saved me when my daughter wrote on the couch and it got all of the stain out...and it had been on the upholstery for over a week!

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