How to Remove Permanent Marker

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Permanent marker is pretty convenient for putting labels on items that may have to deal with moisture or some wear and tear. It lasts longer than pen and pencil and is a useful office and home item to have around.


How to Remove Permanent Marker
Image Credit: Calvin Chan Wai Meng/Moment Open/GettyImages

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However, it is difficult to remove once the ink stains a surface, clothing or even upholstery. It can be frustrating to scrub away at something that had permanent marker on it only to see it get even more wear and tear or have some color still left behind. Thankfully, permanent marker isn't invincible and, given the right cleaning products, it can be removed from most surfaces with household items.


Removing With Alcohol

One powerful agent when getting rid of a heavy black marker stain is rubbing alcohol. First, add some of the alcohol to a piece of paper towel or cotton. Once it's saturated, rub it over the permanent marker. If it takes a while to fade, saturate the paper towel or cotton more and leave it over the marker, then try to rub it off again after a few minutes.

Removing With Nail Polish Remover

If rubbing alcohol isn't at hand, consider using nail polish. Similar to using rubbing alcohol, saturate a piece of paper towel or cotton with the polish remover and rub it over the permanent marker. If it doesn't work, leave the cotton or paper towel over the marker until it begins to fade.


Removing With Dry Erase Marker

It may seem strange or even redundant to use a marker to get rid of permanent marker, but this method is worth a try. Take a dry erase marker and write over the permanent marker. Spray it with a little bit of rubbing alcohol, then rub with a dry eraser. If the permanent marker doesn't come off right away, spray with a little bit more rubbing alcohol, then use the dry erase marker a few more times until it comes off.

Detergent and Toothpaste

In case the permanent marker stain is on clothing, there is a way to remove most – if not all – of the marker. First, gently dab the toothpaste and detergent solution onto the stain and gently rub with a towel so as to not transfer the ink stain to other parts of the item. Once some of the stain is absorbed by the towel, try rinsing the stained spot. If there is still some ink left, try repeating the process until the stain is barely noticeable.