How to Remove Permanent Marker

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We’ve all been there. Maybe it was the kids, maybe you had a slip of the hand while writing with a Sharpie, but now you have a stain of the worst kind and you’re wondering how to remove permanent marker.

The good news is, it’s not impossible. Depending on the surface stained, there are many options for getting Sharpie stains out!

colorful permanent markers with text reading how to remove permanent marker

How to Remove Permanent Marker: The Ultimate Guide


My first foray into removing permanent marker stains came when my then-2-year-old drew all over the dining room table. I was near tears until I googled it and was able to remove the stain. The secret weapon? Toothpaste!

Please test all of these methods in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure it doesn’t alter the stain, varnish, or seal.

Simply blot the stain with regular toothpaste (not gel) and allow it to sit a few moments before wiping clean with a damp cloth.

If the toothpaste doesn’t work try peanut butter or rubbing alcohol with the same method (although toothpaste has always worked for me in the past…yes it’s happened more than once!)

Fabric or Upholstery

There are many methods for removing permanent marker from clothing or furniture upholstery.

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer (contains alcohol)
  • Aerosol hairspray (be sure it’s the cheap kind with high alcohol content)
  • Lemon juice
  • Nail polish remover
  • Toothpaste
  • WD-40
  • White vinegar

To try any of these methods, place a few layers of paper towels on the backside of the stain (if possible) to prevent spreading as the stain is diluted. Then blot-don’t rub-the stain with the remover of choice. Repeat until the stain is lifted.


Use rubbing alcohol and a damp sponge to remove marker from microfiber. After the area dries brush it with a hairbrush to fluff the fibers.

Laminate or White Board

To remove Sharpie from a white board or laminate furniture, simply draw over it with a dry erase marker, then wipe with a paper towel…it comes right off! I can’t tell you how many times that one came in handy when I used to homeschool!

You might also like to read my favorite 10 Cleaning Hacks!


There are many options for removing marker from plastic, use the same method as wood:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Pencil eraser
  • Goo Gone
  • Dry Erase marker


Use rubbing alcohol to clean marker from leather, and do it as soon as possible after the stain for the best results.


Kids gave themselves tattoos? Try one of the methods below to easily remove them.

  • nail polish remover
  • lotion
  • shaving cream
  • sunscreen
  • rubbing alcohol
  • hand sanitizer


To remove permanent marker from windows or glass dishes try the following:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Toothpaste
  • WD-40
  • Dry erase marker

Paper or Books

I’m going to be honest with you on this one, there’s a reason it’s called permanent marker…it’s near impossible to get it out of paper but you can lighten it quite a bit by dabbing the stain with nail polish remover until it doesn’t lighten any further.


Be gentle when removing marker from walls to ensure you don’t remove the paint along with it! Try dabbing with toothpaste, rubbing alcohol, hairspray, or very gently with a Magic Eraser. (Love Magic Erasers, see all my uses for them here.)


Metal is one of the easiest surfaces to remove permanent marker from. Simply dab with rubbing alcohol, toothpaste or draw over it with a dry erase marker, then wipe clean with a paper towel.


A Magic Eraser, toothpaste, or rubbing alcohol should easily remove permanent marker from tile. If the tile is textured use an old toothbrush or cotton swab to get in the smaller divets.


Rubbing alcohol should remove Sharpie stains on granite. Be sure to wipe clean with water after cleaning to remove any alcohol residue.


Blotting with rubbing alcohol is the easiest way to remove Sharpie stains. Be sure to blot, not rub, to avoid spreading the stain.

So there you have it! How to get permanent marker out of just about anything! Have I missed any surfaces? Tell me about your permanent marker mishaps in the comments below!

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  1. Baking soda is excellent at cleaning permanent marker ink from fabric, plastic, and concrete, including painted concrete. You will need a bucket, soft-bristle brush, some water, and a cloth or paper towels.

  2. What about beachballs? The sharpie marks stained for three months now! My daughter drew billions of sharpie marks on my Beachball. How do I get it off??

  3. Thank you for your tips. It would not be a problem anymore for me if my kid would mess again painting her uniform..Great idea,

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