How to Remove Permanent Marker From Metal

Drawing with permanent markers can be an enjoyable experience, but when that marker slips past the edge of the paper and leaves a mark on a metal desk, there goes the pleasure, as your focus shifts to cleanup rather than creation. Cleaning permanent marker off metal doesn't have to be a tiresome chore, especially if you act quickly. Remove permanent marker from a variety of metal surfaces such as doors, appliances and cabinets using items you may already have on hand.

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Saved by Citrus

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A sticker-remover and cleaning solution made from citrus removes marker stains from both bare and painted metal surfaces. This type of cleaner, known best for its ability to remove gooey sticker labels and tape residue, removes ink from all kinds of non-porous surfaces. Apply the citrus product directly over the ink lines, or pour some onto the stain if the marker covers a large area; then spread it over the entire inked area with a soft white cloth or paper towel. If the marks are on a vertical surface, apply the cleaner to a thin bit of paper towel; then hold it in place for several minutes over the stain. Wipe the cleaner away with fresh paper towels, wiping from the outside edges toward the center. For a thin line, follow the length of the line rather than rubbing across it. Replace the paper towels as they absorb the ink. Wipe the area clean again with a damp sponge or paper towel.

Clear Cleaner

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Rubbing alcohol lifts permanent marker ink from metal. Pour a little rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball or plain paper towel; then blot it over the marks to absorb the ink. Replace the cotton ball or paper towel as it becomes stained with ink. Blot, rather than rubbing the marks, to avoid spreading the ink over the metal. Continue blotting until all the ink is gone.

Drawing to Erase the Marks

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In some cases, a dry-erase marker lifts permanent marker ink off metal, especially if the ink is fairly fresh. Draw over the permanent marker lines with a dry-erase marker; then wipe the dry-erase marks away with a sponge or an eraser designed for a dry-erase board. If the marks do not come off completely, apply rubbing alcohol on them afterwards. This cleaning method works best on smooth, slick metal surfaces that are in good shape.

Baking Soda Solution

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Mix baking soda with just enough water to make a paste-like consistency. Apply the paste to the markings and allow it to sit for several minutes. Wipe the paste away with a damp white cloth. If the stain doesn't come up completely, apply more paste and buff it gently with the cloth, working from the outside of the marks toward the center to avoid spreading the stain. A white non-gel toothpaste may be used in place of baking soda and water.