How to Remove Permanent Marker Stains From the Refrigerator

If your kid misunderstood what it means to display artwork on the fridge, relax: that permanent marker doodle doesn't have to become a permanent art installation on the refrigerator door. A few common items found around the house, such as rubbing alcohol and toothpaste, easily remove permanent marker from the fridge.

Employee hand in rubber protective glove with micro fiber cloth wiping a fridge's stainless doors. Early spring or regular cleanup. Commercial cleaning company concept.
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If your kid misunderstood what it means to display artwork on the fridge, relax: that permanent marker doodle doesn't have to become a permanent art installation on the refrigerator door.

Clean Sharpie Marks Off the Fridge

While it may seem too good to be true, a dry-erase marker contains everything needed to clean Sharpie ink off the refrigerator. The dry-erase marker contains an alcohol-based solvent, as well as a pigment. Alcohol removes dried permanent marker ink so it can be wiped away with a paper towel or even an eraser made for a dry-erase board. For best results, stick with a dry-erase marker color at least as dark as the original permanent marker ink.

If you don't have a dry-erase marker, blot the permanent marker ink with rubbing alcohol on a sponge or folded paper towel. Wipe the ink away from the outer edges of the spot toward the center to avoid spreading diluted ink over the refrigerator. If dealing with a lot of marker ink, replace the paper towel with a fresh one once it has absorbed a lot of ink.

Erase That Ink

Melamine foam cleaning erasers such as a Magic Eraser remove permanent marker from many surfaces, including refrigerators. Wet a portion of the foam eraser following the directions on the package label. Rub the ink off the refrigerator with the wet portion of the eraser.

In some cases, a regular pencil eraser may also be able to remove the marker ink. An art gum eraser or similar relatively large eraser may be a little easier to handle than the eraser at the end of a pencil for removing a large doodle.

Spray it Off

Hairspray loosens the grip of some types of marker ink on household surfaces such as the refrigerator. Spray the marked area liberally with hairspray, allowing it to sit for a minute or so. Keep a paper towel handy to catch inky drips and prevent them from spreading ink farther down the refrigerator surface. Wipe the hairspray off with a paper towel, then follow up with a little soapy water. If any marker ink remains, repeat the process.

Minty Fresh Fridge Cleaner

Toothpaste also works wonders at removing marker from the refrigerator, thanks to the gentle abrasive nature of the paste. Cover the marker spots with a non-gel toothpaste, ideally one containing baking soda. Wet a cloth or sponge and sprinkle some baking soda onto the sponge for added abrasive power. Rub the toothpaste with the sponge, rinse the sponge, then wipe the refrigerator again. It may take a few tries to remove all the ink.

Oil-Based Options

Cooking oil serves as a safe way to remove some permanent marker inks from the fridge surface. Pour a little oil onto a cloth or paper towel, then rub the oil liberally over the ink. After a few minutes, wipe the oil away with a dry paper towel. If any oil remains, clean the refrigerator surface with soap and water or your usual household surface cleaner.

Adhesive-removing oils such as Goo Gone will also lift ink off of the refrigerator. Squirt some of the oil directly onto the ink or apply the oil to a paper towel and wipe the problem spots with it. After a few minutes, wipe the oil away with a fresh paper towel. Note: make sure the product you've selected is safe for your refrigerator surface first. Some formulations aren't recommended for use on faux stainless steel.


Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams

Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.