How to remove permanent marker

Permanent markers live up to their name – the ink is designed to stick to surfaces and resist removal. However, that doesn’t mean permanent marker stains are impossible to remove. With the right techniques and cleaning solutions, you can get permanent marker off of many surfaces. Here are the most effective ways to remove permanent marker from various materials.

remove permanent marker

Remove Permanent Marker from Walls

Permanent marker on walls is one of the most common places you’ll find it. Removing it takes a little scrubbing but it can be done. Here are the steps:

Supplies Needed:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Baking soda
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloths or paper towels
  • Scrub brush or sponge

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Try rubbing alcohol first. Soak a cloth or paper towel in rubbing alcohol and gently rub the stained area. The alcohol will help dissolve and lift the stain.
  2. Make a baking soda paste. Mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with just enough water to form a thick paste. Spread the paste onto the stain and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. The baking soda will help absorb and lift the ink.
  3. Scrub with dish soap. Make a dish soap solution by mixing a few drops of dawn dish soap with warm water. Use a scrub brush or sponge dipped in the soap solution to scrub the stained area. The soap will help cut through the grime.
  4. Rinse thoroughly. Once the stain has lifted, rinse the wall with clean water to remove any soapy residue.
  5. Use hairspray as a last resort. If the stain persists, spray hairspray liberally onto it and let it sit for 5 minutes. The chemicals in hairspray can help dissolve permanent marker. Scrub the area again and then rinse.

With persistence, you should be able to get permanent marker off of painted drywall, wood, or concrete walls using these cleaning solutions. It may take several attempts, but the stain should eventually come up.

Tips for Walls:

  • Test cleaners on inconspicuous areas first to check for discoloration.
  • For delicate wallpaper, use a very light touch when scrubbing to avoid tearing.
  • Rinse walls thoroughly after scrubbing to prevent soap residue buildup.
  • Magic erasers also work for scrubbing walls, but be gentle.
  • Repainting may be necessary if stains have sunk into porous wall surfaces like bare wood or concrete.

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Remove Permanent Marker from Glass

Window panes, mirrors, drinking glasses, and other glass items are also prone to permanent marker stains. Luckily, glass is non-porous so stains have a hard time setting in. Try these techniques to remove permanent marker from glass:

Supplies Needed:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towels or soft cloths
  • Plastic scraper or old credit card

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Rub with alcohol. Soak a paper towel in undiluted rubbing alcohol and rub it against the stain on the glass. The alcohol will start breaking down the ink.
  2. Make a baking soda paste. Sprinkle baking soda onto the stain and add just a few drops of water to make a spreadable paste. Let it sit for 5 minutes before rubbing gently with a cloth. Rinse clean.
  3. Scrub with toothpaste. Squeeze a dollop of toothpaste onto the stain and use a plastic scraper or old credit card to gently scrub the area. Toothpaste is a mild abrasive that will lift staining. Rinse clean afterwards.
  4. Use dish soap if needed. For stubborn stains, make a soapy solution with dish soap and warm water. Scrub the soapy solution onto the marker stain using a soft cloth or sponge.
  5. Finish with rubbing alcohol. One final application of rubbing alcohol after scrubbing usually removes any last remnants of permanent marker on glass.

With some elbow grease, these household supplies should effectively blast permanent marker off of glass. Just be careful not to scrub too hard on delicate items to avoid scratching.

Tips for Glass:

  • Avoid using paper towels or abrasives on delicate glassware to prevent scratches.
  • Let solutions sit for longer time periods to allow stains to dissolve before scrubbing.
  • If stains persist, try a lacquer thinner or acetone for stronger solvent cleaning.
  • Windex also works to help break up permanent marker stains.
  • Rinse and dry glass thoroughly after cleaning to prevent spotting.

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Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic

Plastics like rubber, vinyl, laminates, acrylics, and melamine often end up marked-on by kids or adults alike. Permanent marker can really cling and sink into these porous surfaces. Here are the best ways to remove it from plastic:

Supplies Needed:

  • Toothpaste
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Magic eraser
  • Soft cloths and paper towels

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Try a magic eraser. These popular cleaning sponges contain a very mild abrasive that can lift stains effectively. Gently rub a magic eraser over the marker stain on the plastic. Apply light pressure to avoid damaging the surface.
  2. Make a toothpaste rubbing compound. Squeeze toothpaste onto the stain and mix with a few drops of water. The gritty toothpaste acts as a gentle scrub. Rub it into the plastic with a soft cloth.
  3. Use baking soda. Make a paste with baking soda and just a tiny bit of water. Apply it to the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes before rubbing with a soft cloth. The baking soda will help absorb and draw out the ink.
  4. Rub with alcohol. Soak a paper towel in rubbing alcohol and rub it over the stain. This will help dissolve any lingering ink residue.
  5. Scrub with soapy water. For extra cleaning power, make a soapy solution with dish soap and warm water. Use a soft brush or sponge to gently scrub.

With this regimen of household supplies, permanent marker comes off of plastic much easier. Just be sure not to scrub too hard on delicate surfaces.

Tips for Plastic:

  • Avoid magic erasers on delicate or polished plastics where it could leave marks.
  • Test cleaners first on inconspicuous areas to prevent damage.
  • For tough stains, try a degreaser like Goo-Gone or WD-40.
  • Replace soapy water frequently when scrubbing to prevent redepositing ink.
  • Rinse plastic thoroughly and buff dry with a soft cloth after cleaning.

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Remove Permanent Marker from Skin

Kids love to turn themselves into works of art by doodling on their skin with permanent markers. Removing these markings off skin requires gentler techniques. Here’s how to safely get permanent marker off skin:

Supplies Needed:

  • Baby oil or vegetable oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste
  • Soap and water
  • Cotton balls or soft washcloth

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Apply baby oil. Saturate a cotton ball with baby oil and gently rub it over the stained skin. The oil will help break down the ink stains.
  2. Scrub with toothpaste. Squeeze a dollop of toothpaste onto the stain and use a wet washcloth to gently scrub the area, rinsing frequently. Toothpaste contains solvents that dissolve marker.
  3. Use rubbing alcohol. For stubborn stains, use a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to blot the area and help fade the stain. Be very gentle, as alcohol can dry out skin.
  4. Wash with soap and water. Once staining has lightened, use a mild soap and warm water to wash the area. This removes any residue left from cleaners.
  5. Re-moisturize. Applying some soothing lotion to the skin afterwards replaces moisture stripped during cleaning.

With this process, permanent marker comes off skin safely without too much scrubbing or irritation. The stain may not disappear entirely, but it will be significantly lighter.

Tips for Skin:

  • Avoid using alcohol and scrubs on delicate facial skin. Use oil and soap only.
  • Apply cold cream or coconut oil before scrubbing to prevent irritation.
  • Perform a patch test first to check for allergic reactions to any products.
  • Have kids scrub their own skin to avoid discomfort.
  • Moisturize well after cleansing stained skin to prevent dryness.

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Remove Permanent Marker from Clothes and Fabrics

Clothing, tablecloths, upholstery, and other fabrics marked on with permanent marker require a much more delicate approach. Try these techniques:

Supplies Needed:

  • Hairspray
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste
  • Laundry detergent or dish soap
  • Clean white cloths

Step-by-Step Instructions:

  1. Spray hairspray liberally onto the stain and let it soak in for 5 minutes. The chemicals in hairspray help break up permanent ink. Blot gently with a clean white cloth.
  2. Scrub gently with a toothpaste mixture. Make a paste with equal parts toothpaste and warm water. Gently dab it onto the stain with a cloth and lightly scrub. Rinse clean.
  3. Blot with rubbing alcohol. Soak a clean cloth in undiluted alcohol and dab onto the stain repeatedly, changing cloths as needed. This will dissolve more of the ink.
  4. Handwash with detergent. For removable fabric like clothes, handwash the stained area with laundry detergent and warm water, gently massaging the stain.
  5. Use dish soap on upholstery. For upholstery and other non-removable fabrics, mix a small amount of dish soap with warm water and sponge it onto the stain.

With this gentle process, permanent marker can be removed from delicate fabrics without risk of damage. Just take care not to scrub excessively, as that may cause the ink to spread.

Tips for Fabrics:

  • Always test products on a hidden area first to check for discoloration or damage.
  • Lay fabric stain-side down on an absorbent cloth or paper towels after applying cleaner.
  • For heavy stains, try dabbing with liquid laundry detergent before washing.
  • Use a stain-stick or pre-wash spray to help lift set-in stains in the wash cycle.
  • Avoid using heat to set stains – hot water, hair dryers, or irons.

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Tips for Successfully Removing Permanent Marker

  • Test cleaning solutions on an inconspicuous area first to check for discoloration or damage.
  • Act quickly for easier removal – the longer a stain sets, the harder it is to remove.
  • Use a blotting motion instead of rubbing when possible to avoid spreading the stain.
  • Alternate between cleaning solutions for best results in lifting the stain.
  • Re-apply cleaners multiple times if needed to fully lift the stain.
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing, heat, or chemicals that could damage the underlying surface.
  • Rinse surfaces thoroughly after cleaning to remove residue.
  • Apply conditioners like lotion or oil after cleaning skin to restore moisture.

While permanent marker stains can be frustrating, don’t lose hope. With this comprehensive guide, you now have all the tools needed to conquer pesky permanent marker stains on virtually any surface. Employ the appropriate techniques for each material, and that permanent ink can be erased. Just be sure to keep permanent markers away from kids and other accident-prone household members whenever possible to avoid stains in the first place. Your walls, furniture, clothes, and skin will thank you!

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.

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