Although Sharpie permanent markers' legacy started in the 1960s, that doesn't mean that you necessarily want all Sharpie marks to hang around that long. Eliminating marker stain on fabrics, upholstery, carpeting and hard surfaces requires different techniques.
Permanent Ink Characteristics
The two types of writing ink are water-soluble and nonsoluble. Sharpie ink is not water soluble -- it adheres to most surfaces and cannot be removed with water. It's made up of a coloring agent, pigment and a liquid that blends oils, resins and solvents (both toxic and nontoxic). This combination of ingredients makes Sharpie ink permanent. The ink in a Sharpie is known as permachrome, made from dyes and alcohols, while the black ink also contains ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.
Removing the Mark
The key to removing a Sharpie ink stain is to begin the process immediately. The newer the mark, the easier it is to treat. The removal concept is to transfer the ink from the damaged surface to another surface.
Marker Removal From Fabric
Whatever solution you're using, test the fabric in a spot that's not visible. Also examine the manufacturer's recommended cleaning instructions.
Lay the fabric, stain side down, on top of several layers of paper towels.
Pour an ample amount of rubbing alcohol onto a sponge and dab it around the stain. Then, move to the stain itself. Change the paper towels frequently so that the fabric doesn't reabsorb the ink.
When the stain is removed, or faint, rinse the fabric thoroughly with cool water and then launder.
Marker Removal From Upholstery
Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar with 2 cups of cool water.
Using a clean, white cloth, dab the stain with the solution. Use another clean, white cloth to absorb the solution and repeat every five minutes, for a total of 30 minutes. Add more cool water at the end, and absorb it with the cloth.
If the stain isn't fully gone, mix a new solution, using 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 2 cups of cool water.
Dab and blot with a clean cloth for 30 minutes, blotting and reapplying the solution every five minutes.
Use cool water for the final dab, and blot dry.
Marker Removal from Carpet
Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 2 cups of warm water.
Dab the stain with a clean, white cloth that has been soaked in the solution, and blot. Repeat every five minutes until the stain disappears. Remove the solution with clean water and blot again.
If the stain is still apparent, flush it with alcohol and let it air dry.
Use cool water to remove the alcohol and blot dry with a fresh cloth.
A final attempt to remove Sharpie ink from carpet is to mix 1 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid with 1 tablespoon of ammonia and 2 cups of warm water. Continue the flushing and blotting for 30 minutes.
Sponge with cold water. Using a clean cloth, blot it until it's dry.
Other stain removal professionals have suggested alternative methods for removing Sharpie ink from fabrics. Spraying a generous amount of oil-free hairspray onto a clean cloth and rubbing it into the stain, or using a commercial stain remover are just two solutions.
Alcohol has been successful in removing Sharpie ink and paint marker strays from hard surfaces -- computer keyboards, wooden tables, countertops and walls included. Apply with a cotton ball or cloth; don't pour the alcohol directly onto the stain. Use a Q-tip when removing Sharpie paint marker ink.
In addition, essential oils, such as lemon, orange and tea tree oil, can help remove Sharpie marker stains from hard surfaces. Melamine foam erasers also work well for this purpose.