How to Remove Permanent Marker From China Dishes

Whether the kiddos accidentally drew on your dishes or a secondhand store used the wrong type of marker when pricing a set of china, permanent marker doesn't have to be a permanent problem on those plates.

Blue table ware plates and bowls overhead
credit: knape/iStock/GettyImages
Whether the kiddos accidentally drew on your dishes or a secondhand store used the wrong type of marker when pricing a set of china, permanent marker doesn't have to be a permanent problem on those plates.

The Dry-Erase Marker Method

On non-porous surfaces, such as ceramic and porcelain plates, a dry-erase marker and paper towels are often all that's needed to remove permanent marker stains. Once the permanent marker ink is dry, draw atop it using a marker designed for a dry-erase board. Wipe the area immediately with a paper towel. Both the dry-erase marker ink and the permanent marker ink should come off.

This method works largely due to the alcohol in the dry-erase marker. The alcohol is a solvent that removes pigment from both types of marker on the plate.

The Melamine Foam Method

Melamine foam "erasers," often used to remove scuff marks on floors or shoes, are also handy for removing marker ink on porcelain and ceramic kitchenware. Wet the corner of the eraser, then rub it over the ink on the affected plate. Wash the plate off afterwards. If any ink remains, rub it with the foam eraser once again.

If you can't remove all of the ink, rub the area again with a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel. If dealing with a lot of ink, rotate the paper towel to a fresh area, once it absorbs the ink, to avoid smearing it on another area of the dish.

Other Ways to Remove Ink

Other substances you probably have on hand at home can also remove permanent marker ink from ceramic dishes. After using any of these materials, wash the dish thoroughly to remove any remaining residue.

Rub a white baking-soda-based toothpaste over the spot to lift the marker away. Squirt a little water-displacing liquid spray, such as WD-40, over the area, then wipe the ink away with a paper towel. Dab some acetone-based nail polish remover over the ink as a last resort to lift the ink away.

Only work with acetone in a well-ventilated space, as the fumes can be strong. Wear rubber gloves to avoid getting the acetone on your hands.

Permanent Ceramic Markers

Permanent ceramic markers or ceramic markers for mugs are a little different than standard permanent markers. I'm some cases, their ink is easier to remove, as long as it is fresh and still wet. Although one brand varies from the next as far as the actual ink used, in many cases, the wet ink can be wiped off with soapy water.

The ink in this type of pen becomes permanent after baking the ceramic item in the oven. Once permanent, this ink even withstand a cleaning in the dishwasher. If you really want to remove it once it's baked onto the dish, you'll have to resort to somewhat abrasive methods. Try a scouring pad, or a kitchen cleanser applied to a damp dishcloth or nylon scrub pad.


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.