Sharpies are a vital part of modern life, and they’re instrumental in our daily tasks. But it’s easy to slip when using one and end up with an unsightly mark that ruins our favorite dress or stains our walls and floors. Knowing how to remove Sharpie marker stains from our household surfaces and fabrics makes us ready to tackle any stain we encounter.
It’s an essential skill for any home cleaning aficionado. In this guide, we’ve put together a list of the most useful remedies to remove permanent marker stains. You’ll find out how to get black Sharpie out of hard, non-porous surfaces, and we also give you some tried-and-true cleaning solutions on ways to clean permanent marker out of clothes.
You’ll even find out how to get Sharpie off skin without leaving it irritated and unhappy. Your home will be marker-free and gorgeous by the time we finish.
How to Get Sharpie Off Hard Surfaces
It’s easy to mark up a surface by mistake. A misjudged gesture and your wood, plastic, or steel surface has a black ink stain across it. If you don’t know how to remove Sharpie from plastic or stainless steel, you can spend ages trying to clean a surface and only wind up making things worse.
To keep your home looking pristine, you need some reliable methods on how to remove permanent marker stains. In this section, we look at some time-tested techniques of how to remove permanent marker from wood and other hard surfaces.
You’ll find out how to clean up the most stubborn permanent ink stains and get your hard surfaces looking like new again. Best of all, you can create most of our remedies with items already in your home.
1. Clean Wood with Toothpaste and Baking Soda
Wood is tricky to clean because while it can appear hard and impermeable, it is often porous and soaks up ink like a sponge. You can use a toothpaste and baking soda cleaning option to get your wood furniture and other surfaces looking great after a Sharpie incident, though. It’s an excellent choice for getting wood, and other hard surfaces cleaned up and free of ink.
Combine the toothpaste and baking soda in a small bowl, and smear it on the stain. Use the toothbrush to scrub the area until the stain rubs away. Repeat if needed. Clean the area with water and a paper towel when finished.
2. Attack the Ink with Vinegar
Vinegar is one of the most useful tools in your home cleaning kit, and it’s all due to its acidity. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which allows it to slowly eat away at surfaces to clean off the most stubborn stains and spots.
You can use vinegar for tons of cleaning tasks, and it’s perfect for getting steel or plastic clean of permanent ink. It’s one of the best cleaning products you’ll encounter.
Wet the brush with vinegar, and gently scrub at the Sharpie marker stain to dampen the surface. Once the vinegar is on the stain, let it sit for about five minutes.
Then, scrub at the stain again and repeat until the marker is gone. Clean the surface with water and a rag.
3. Knock Out the Stain with Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol, which is also called rubbing alcohol, is a fabulous cleaning agent that works on all kinds of grime. You can clean coins or bathroom tiles with rubbing alcohol, and it’s the perfect choice for cleaning away marker stains. This option works exceptionally well as a whiteboard cleaner.
Fill the bottle with rubbing alcohol, and spray the stain. Let the alcohol sit for a minute, and scrub the area with the brush until the stain lifts away.
Blot the stain with clean paper towels or a rag as you rub to lift off the ink. Repeat until you’ve cleaned off the stain, and then rinse and dry the area with water and a rag.
4. Attack the Stain with WD-40
You might not think of WD-40 immediately when you consider how to get Sharpie off hard surfaces, but you’d be amazed at what it can do. WD-40 contains alcohol and lubricating agents that act as cleaners and eat away at rust and grime. It’s why you use it to clean up rusty screws and other machinery, and it works wonders on ink stains.
Spray the stain with WD-40, and let it sit for a few minutes to allow it to work into the ink. Scrub the stain, and blot the spot with a dry cloth to lift out any ink as you clean. Repeat until the stain lifts out completely, and wipe the area down with a clean cloth.
5. Use Peanut Butter on the Ink
Peanut butter is probably even further from your mind than WD-40 when you think about how to remove Sharpie marks from your wood, steel, and plastic. It almost seems counter-intuitive to use a goopy spread on a stain, but peanut butter contains fat and really works to pull out permanent ink.
Smear peanut butter on the stain, and use the brush to scrub at the spot until the stain lifts away. Wipe away the peanut butter, and rinse the area with water and a clean rag.
6. Get Your Plastic Clean with Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a fantastic option to use when you want to know how to remove permanent marker from plastic surfaces. The sunscreen digs into the ink and cleans it away better than you’d believe.
Apply sunscreen to the stain, and let it sit for a minute. Use a rag to rub the stain until the ink lifts away. Rinse and dry the spot with clean water and a dry cloth. Repeat as needed until the spot is clean.
7. Clean the Stain with Goo Gone
Goo Gone is a line of cleaners that you can use to clean off tape, glue, and other adhesives. It’s also just what you need to clean up Sharpie stains. You can use Goo Gone on any hard surface and expect it to give you excellent results when you put it up against permanent Sharpie ink stains.
Spray Goo Gone on the marker stain, and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. Use the brush to scrub the stain. Rinse and dry the area when you finish cleaning. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone.
8. Hit the Marks with a Magic Eraser
Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is a modern product that is one of the most useful cleaning developments of the past few decades. When you use a Magic Eraser, stains seem to wipe away with ease, leaving your surfaces looking pristine. Give it a try on your next Sharpie accident.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely when you use a Magic Eraser. Rub at the stain with the Magic Eraser until the stain lifts away, and rinse and dry the area thoroughly. Repeat as needed until you remove the stain.
9. Clean Up the Sharpie Marks with Baking Soda
You might not know it, but baking soda is one of the most useful products you’ll find in your kitchen. It absorbs all sorts of odors, makes a great toothpaste, and can clean ink off of hard surfaces. Give it a try on your next big marker stain.
Combine the water and baking soda to create a paste and apply the paste to the stain using a rag. Scrub with a toothbrush until the stain lifts out. Rinse and dry the area with clean water and a dry cloth.
10. Hit the Marker Stains with Aerosol Hairspray
Aerosol hairspray is another heavy-hitting member of your household cleaning team. Use hairspray to tackle a wide range of cleaning tasks, including tile cleaning and grease removal. It’s just what you need to get rid of that troublesome marker stain.
Spray the stain until wet, and allow it to sit for a minute. Then, wipe at the stain with a rag. If the stain remains, repeat the spray, and scrub with a brush until the stain lifts out. Repeat as needed.
11. Use a Pencil Eraser to Clean Out Ink
It seems almost too perfect to use an eraser to clean up ink. And yet, a pencil eraser can often take care of the problem without requiring escalation. Erasers work by grabbing and pulling particles off the surface upon which they rub.
You can use the cleaning action of a pencil eraser to attack marker stains. This cleaning solution is straightforward. Treat the ink-stained surface in the same manner as you would a sheet of paper, and rub the eraser on the stain.
Keep working at the spot for a few minutes. Eventually, the stain will fade and might even vanish.
12. Hit the Stains with a Dry Erase Marker
Using a marker to clean off another marker sounds like lunacy, but this method works well and makes sense. Dry erase markers contain a compound that keeps its ink from attaching to surfaces such as a dry erase board and make it easy to wipe away. When you trace over the Sharpie mark with a dry erase marker, you loosen the permanent ink and can more easily wipe it off.
Don the gloves to avoid marking up your hands. Trace over all permanent ink marks with the dry erase markers. Make sure that you cover every bit of the permanent ink.
Let the ink sit for a few minutes, and then wipe the surface with a clean rag. The stains should wipe away. Repeat as needed.
How to Remove Permanent Marker from Fabric
Knowing how to get permanent marker out of clothes is a different skill than being able to clean hard surfaces. Fabrics are porous by nature, and they drink up any ink they encounter and allow it to spread through the fibers. Removing ink from clothes can be tough, but you can do it with a little effort.
This section covers how to get marker from fabric of all types. We look at mechanical cleaning options, some excellent home remedies, and a commercial cleaner or two.
You’ll get some great recipes and tips on how to restore your stained upholstery, too. Having a reliable method to get permanent marker out of clothes will let you rest easy and prepare you for anything.
13. Try the Washing Machine
If you have a fresh, new stain, you can often treat it before it sets in. However, if you’re working with an old and dried Sharpie stain, you might want to give the washing machine a try. Permanent ink isn’t always as permanent as it sounds.
A careful pretreatment and thorough cleaning can often clean out stains that you thought were going to be there forever. Pretreat your stains with liquid detergent before running them through the wash. Use cold water to avoid baking in the dye.
Let the clothes go through at least one wash cycle, and send them through more than once if needed. Once the stain is out, rinse the clothes one last time, and let them dry on the line.
14. Get Your Satin Clean with a Borax Solution
Satin is tough to clean in the best of circumstances, and adding Sharpie marks can make an already difficult task much worse. However, you can whip up a fabric cleaner that will clean away ink without harming your satin and get it looking gorgeous again. The next time you mark up something satin, don’t trash it until you give this cleaning option a try.
Fill the bottle with the liquid ingredients, and shake the solution to mix. Spray the stain, and let it sit for a minute. Dab at the stain with cotton balls to lift out the ink. Once you’ve cleaned away the stain, rinse the fabric in clean water.
15. Try Good Old Bleach on Your Sharpie Stains
If you’ve done any housework, you’re already familiar with the miracles that bleach can work. Bleach is a marvelous cleaning product that already gets lots of use in your laundry room and bathroom. This option is a perfect method to use when you want to get Sharpie out of clothes that are white or light-colored since bleach discolors dark fabrics.
Fill the spray bottle with bleach and spray the stains. Let the bleach work in for a minute or two, and then scrub the stain with a brush.
Rinse the fabric in cold water. Repeat until the stain lifts out. Wash the cloth after cleaning, if possible.
16. Hit the Ink Stain with Milk
Milk is more than nutritious; it also works as a dynamite cleaning agent. Milk is almost like liquid soap in that it contains fat, which pulls out ink and other contaminants. If you’re trying to get rid of an ink stain in the middle of the night and don’t have other options, milk might be the answer you need.
Pour the milk in a shallow basin, and add the clothes. Allow your stained fabric to soak in milk for 15 minutes. Scrub at the stains with a brush, re-wetting the material as you go along. When you’ve removed the ink, rinse the fabric under cold water, and send it through a wash.
17. Clean Your Stains with Lemon Juice
Lemon juice and vinegar are almost twins in their cleaning action. Like vinegar, lemon juice contains acid, which gives it an extra cleaning boost. Lemon juice is an excellent way of removing permanent marker from leather and is just what you need to get your fabrics clean after a Sharpie encounter.
Fill the container with the liquid ingredients, and shake well to mix. Spray the stained areas and let the lemon juice sit on the marks for about five minutes.
Scrub gently with the brush until the stain lifts out. Test this solution on an inconspicuous spot before cleaning the stain.
18. Hit the Stain with Cream of Tartar
Cream of tartar is in most of our cupboards, waiting for use in an egg dish or some other meal. However, it also makes an excellent cleaner.
It might be just what you need to get your ink-stained fabrics back to factory condition. Give this option a shot if nothing else has worked; you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Mix the cream of tartar and lemon juice in a small bowl, and use a cloth to apply the mixture to the stains. Let the solution sit on the marks for a few minutes, and then rinse the fabric. Repeat if needed.
19. Use a Professional Stain Remover
You might need to turn to a professional for stain removal if the home remedies don’t do the trick. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of commercial stain removers available that work well when you need to know how to remove Sharpie stains once and for all.
Always use only the force needed to take care of the issue. A super-strong cleaner might remove the stain, but that won’t help if it damages the fabric as it cleans.
Find a commercial cleaner that fits the profile for you and will clean your items without damaging them. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times.
How to Remove a Sharpie Mark from Skin
Sharpie stains don’t only occur on fabrics and hard surfaces, of course. You’ve probably given yourself a few semi-permanent tattoos by mistake with a mistaken gesture or two. When you wind up staining your skin, you’ll have to take a different approach than when you deal with fabric or surface stains.
This section looks at how to get Sharpie off the skin. You’re sure to need this at some point in your life, and you don’t want to try caustic or harmful chemicals to do the job. We show you methods for getting your skin clean and inkless that won’t hurt you and will pull the ink right off.
20. Clean Your Skin with Hand Sanitizer
It isn’t a surprise to learn that a product designed to clean your skin is effective at doing just that. Hand sanitizers clean away bacteria and other contaminants, which makes them perfect for cleaning up permanent marker stains. Have a bottle on hand to use in case of emergencies. It’s worth trying.
Rinse your skin off in water, and then dry your hands thoroughly to let the alcohol in the sanitizer work. Apply hand sanitizer to the marker stains, and rub your hands together. Clean off any ink that lifts away with a dry cloth, and reapply the sanitizer if needed to continue cleaning until the stain lifts off.
21. Use Ethanol to Clean Your Skin
Ethanol is another name for grain alcohol, which is the alcohol type we drink and enjoy. If you stain your skin with a permanent marker and need to grab something in a hurry, you can use regular drinking alcohol to clean yourself up. This method is a great go-to option for removing Sharpie stains for folks who don’t have a lot of cleaning supplies on hand.
Wet the rag in the ethanol, and rub it on your skin. Apply some pressure, but don’t irritate your skin. Rub until the stain lifts away, and rinse your skin in clean water. Repeat until the stain lifts away.
22. Remove Sharpie Stains with Nail Polish Remover
Acetone, also called nail polish remover, is one of the top cleaners for breaking down compounds into their parts. The same power that makes nail polish remover so effective at cleaning fingernails gives it extra action against Sharpie stains.
Dip the cotton balls in acetone, and rub them on the ink stains with a little elbow grease. After a few minutes, the stain should lift off, leaving only a faint shadow behind.
We hope you had a lovely time going over our tips on how to remove Sharpie stains. Having Sharpies and other permanent markers around is a boon to our housekeeping, but even the most careful among us winds up leaving ink marks on clothes and other surfaces. Our guide shows you how to get Sharpie off anything without damaging the surface. It’s just what you need to tackle permanent ink spots.
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