Ink from a permanent marker, such as the classic Sharpie, doesn't have to stay on a surface forever. Though it's designed to be permanent, Sharpie ink is fairly easy to remove from some surfaces with rubbing alcohol. In the case of dry-erase boards, writing over the permanent ink with a dry-erase marker and then wiping the area immediately is often enough to remove it. As with other types of stains and scribbles, the sooner you work on removing Sharpie ink, the easier it is to get rid of it.
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Melamine Foam Erasers
A melamine foam sponge or eraser, such as a Magic Eraser or any generic version of it, removes permanent marker ink, scuffs, and all sorts of marks from all sorts of hard surfaces, but it doesn't work as well on textured, soft surfaces. Get just a corner of the eraser wet, wring out the excess water, and then gently rub the Sharpie mark that's on a table, wall, the kids' toys, or you name it. Melamine foam works best if you use a fresh area of it each time, as it tends to get dingy and fall apart after using any part of it more than once or twice.
Rubbing Alcohol to the Rescue
Rubbing alcohol lifts permanent marker ink from all sorts of surfaces, such as finished wood floors, plastic containers, skin, kitchen countertops, clothing, or even a leather sofa. Alcohol acts as a solvent to lift the Sharpie ink out of or off of many surfaces. For hard surfaces, pour a little alcohol on an absorbent white cloth or paper towel and set it atop the spot, wiping it from the end of the mark or scribble toward the center. If it doesn't work right away, rub the area with a swab soaked in the alcohol or apply a dab of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, wait a few minutes, and then wipe it up.
It's always best to test the alcohol or sanitizer on an inconspicuous area first if you're concerned it might harm the finish. Apply a little to a hidden area, wait a few minutes, and then wipe it up. For porous materials, such as denim jeans or canvas shoes, place a folded paper towel or white cloth on the underside of the material beneath the stain and then gently blot the spot with alcohol on a soft cotton pad. Do not rub, as it may spread the stain. The goal is to transfer the ink from the denim to the cotton, not spread it around. Sharpie ink may bleed or bloom a bit, so use a minimal amount of alcohol at first to try to control the transfer of ink to the cotton pad.
Dry-Erase Marker Trick
Oops, someone accidentally used a permanent marker on the dry-erase board or whiteboard. No worries; an actual dry-erase marker lifts Sharpie ink off the surface fairly easily. Draw atop the permanent marker ink with a dry-erase marker and then wipe off both inks with a microfiber cloth right away. This works because dry-erase markers contain both a pigment and a solvent, and the solvent is often alcohol-based. The solvent removes both the dry-erase pigment and the Sharpie pigment at the same time.
For permanent ink that's been on the whiteboard for a while, it may take more than one try to get off all the Sharpie ink. The dry-erase marker trick also works on some other surfaces, such as plastic, melamine, glass, and other nonporous hard surfaces, so it's worth a try if you don't have any alcohol handy and there's Sharpie ink on the counter or someplace else it doesn't belong.