How to Get Permanent Marker Off From Walls & Surfaces

Did the kiddos get a little “creative” with their coloring? Cleaning things up isn’t so hard with this tip:

  • Try covering the stains with toothpaste then scrub off with a damp cloth (just plain–not the gel kind). I’ve tried this on wood paneling, painted walls and even a porcelain doll face.

ExampleWorks like a charm for me, but didn’t work out so well for you? No worries, there’s a list of more ideas for removing stubborn marker scribbles below.

First, this is an experiment I tried on a wood table which had old permanent marker stains. Another several years old abuse. I decided to try toothpaste and they lifted quite nicely.

What I Did: I simply rubbed some in, left it for a minute or two and then took a soapy, wet dishcloth (excess water squeezed out) and rubbed out the stains going with the direction of the grain of the wood. I had to apply some pressure, but it worked!

Caution: Be careful about using toothpaste, make sure to choose a regular kind that doesn’t contain any abrasives. Especially when working on items with a fine finish (such as wood furniture) since you don’t want to scratch the surface.


Here are more helpful tips I’ve organized from readers in the comment area below (for use on wood, walls, floors, clothing–all kinds of things):

  • Color over spot with a dry erase marker, wipe it off and it should pull up the ink too.
  • Try erasing with a pencil eraser.
  • Spray sunscreen over top (don’t leave on wood too long or there may be damage).
  • Apply a bit of hair spray.
  • Spray insect repellent over the ink.
  • Mix 3/4 cup household ammonia with 1 quart water and soak the clothing or laundry item in the solution (tie up the pail of cleaner with the clothing in a plastic garbage bag for 24 hrs).
  • Wipe them away with baby wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer gel rubbed into the spot then washed away does a nice job.

Have I missed your tried & true remedy? Please share it in the comments section below!

Related Posts


    • kd

    thank you all sooooo much. my husband just bought me a new table with bench seats, and my 7 year old forgot that sharpies soak through paper. i was leary to try anything as i didnt want to ruin the wood. i tried the toothpaste, it helped but didnt get all of the marker out. so i tried the sunscreen, and that helped more, but left very light marker stains………then the off bug repellent……instantly the marker was gone. thank you all so much for saving my new table and benches.

    • brian

    worked great, had red sharpie on table that was just refinished, no trace of the sharpie

    • Caroline

    My grandaughter marked on my table this morning. I just tried the toothpaste it was great. I am so glad I looked this up. Thanks

    • Aaron

    Try a majic eraser. It worked great for me.

    • TRELL

    My two year old scribbled with a black sharpie all over her sister’s strawberries and cream desk. I sprayed and wiped it with OFF insect repellant. I was able to clean the desk completely within seconds!!!!!!

    • sarah

    hi my son has just drew permanent marker dark blue all over my new wood table i tried toothpaste and alcohol and deodrants and room spray and sun screen even vodka and bleach no luck i then tryed avons dry oil body spray 4.00 just sprayed it on n rubbed it off with toothbrush every last bit off !!! thank god !!

    • mandermoga

    use nail polish remover with a Qtip to remove permanent marker from your lcd screen

    • Mandy

    i need help, my cousin and i were goofing off and used a fuchsia sharpie permanent marker and drew in our hands. i didn’t expect it to rub off on my laptop and now it has pink stains on it. I tried using toothpaste, sunscreen, polish remover but nothing worked. I mean it took it off a little but there still a fade pink stain on my laptop. By the way, my laptop is White so its very noticeable. PLEASE I NEED HELP!!

    • Jade

    thanks for all ur help. My brother put permanent maker on the table. My mom panics and I found this site.thank u so much.

    • Anthony

    Toothpaste worked like a charm to take off the black permanent marker on my daughters white painted dresser!

    • Rose

    seriously amazing!! toothpaste really works, saved my new table

    • Jody

    you are a lifesaver! My 3yr old drew all over our flatscreen w/ red perm marker. The toothpaste worked like a charm! Thanks for posting!

    • Annette

    I was able to get black Sharpie marks off my Dell laptop’s soft (and very absorbent)cover. The toothpaste wasn’t very effective – but the winning combination was spray-on sunscreen combined with bug repellent. I had to repeat the process a few times (spray, wait, wipe off)- but it eventually came off, and kid got to live.

    • ccmomma

    A few things- nail polish remover removed the paint on my wall, but got some off the doors. toothpaste did nothing, as did sunscreen,eraser and dry erase. The only thing that worked any amount was GOJO which is a cleaner for mechanics hands. It also smells nice and orangey. However, since all the paint is worn off I just used posters over the spot and will repaint when my kids are older.I was interested to note that many posters added things like “my husband freaked,will freak or is freaking…” interesting isn’t it? Glad to see , though, that I am in the same boat. If you are reading this and you are a husband– remain calm. It is only marker.

    • apryl

    Any ideas on how to get red sharpie off car interior? Not the fabric or leather seats, but the dash, doors, things like that? Please help! My 9 year old wrote her name in the back of my car and dad is ready to kill her!

    • Ellen

    Be sure to warn people not to leave sunscreen on wood too long. I found this site because I am looking for a way to repair the damage to the finish on my table. I didn’t realize sunscreen had leaked on it until too late. It ate right through the finish. I may try the turpentine and linseed oil.

    • Rhiannon

    I don’t know who posted it, but to the person that said hand sanitizer…. THANK YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!!!

    I was up late last night, and accidently fell asleep on the couch this morning. My 4 y/o son decided that he was going to go behind the couch and “decorate” the wall with a black Sharpie! I came on here and tried toothpaste, but it soooooo didn’t work. Took off a little bit, but left most of it there. Then I saw where someone had posted hand sanitizer… like Purell. All I had here was Germ Blaster… made by germ-X. It kills 99.99% of germs… AND Sharpie marks!!! Thank you so much for this!! I will definately be passing this on to other moms!!

    • Mandy

    My 2 year old son got sharpie on my tv and toothpaste got it right off! Thanks everybody!

    • william

    help my son wrote on the ground of the church next door with one of those markers you use to decorate car windows will it come off concrete and with what can i use

    • Lauren

    My kids just decided to write on my kitchen floor with permanent marker. I have tried all your suggestions but nothing is working. PLEASE HELP!! Thanks

    • Jenni

    I got permanent marker on my laptopnear the keyboard….I tried the toothpaste and the dry erase marker…neither of them worked. I saw that some used hairspray, so I tried that and IT WORKED!! Thank you for whoever suggested that!!

    • heather

    TOOTHPASTE DOES REMOVE PERMANENT MARKER FROM COMPUTER SCREENS. You’ll do anything when you’re desperate… especially when it comes to saving a laptop worth over a thousand dollars… so, like any normal person, I took the advice of some random stranger on the internet and smeared toothpaste all over the permanent marker marked across my Dell Inspiron computer screen – after smearing, I rubbed off the toothpaste w/ a damp cloth, as suggested, and off came the marker.. in like two seconds! It’s a miracle!!! A MIRACLE!!! ; )

    • Krystal

    My 5 y/o decided she was going to practice writing her name and drawing on the toilet! I tried the toothpaste thing anf had no luck! So I tried hairspray, again no luck! Well I decided to get a brillo pad and scrub away! And I have succesfully gotten almost every bit of black sharpie off the toilet seat and lid!

    • Karen

    The avon skin so soft bug spray worked really good at taking the permanent marker on a new kitchen island when my 3 year old decided to draw on it it worked quickly too!

    • Jan

    We had a Graffitti attack in the neighborhood on our new garage door–others- on white or light colored vehicles. We were able to wash off the white shoe polish-like paint, but now there is what seems to be like a black sharpie pen writing. If we use alcohol we think it will leave a flat finish Graffitti on the shiny surface paint. ???? The police and the garage door manufacturer don’t know or won’t say. Help!? Jan

    • christy

    Toothpaste worked perfectly! Thank goodness! I thought I was going to ned to re-paint my wholw wall over!
    Thank you for an amazing tip!!!!

    • Malachy

    Try Oxyclean. Worked for us to remove permanent marker that leaked through a sheet of paper into the wood coffee-table beneath.

    • wish

    black sharpee on white plastic side of gym shoe – ive tried, orange cleaner, bug spray, spray tan lotion, toothpaste, hairspray, dry erase, magic sponge, and rubbing alcohol….. what else can i try – i saw a post of hand sanitizer – guess i’ll do that……does anyone know WHAT ELSE??

    • Ab

    I read all the tips here and elsewhere and spray on sun-screen seemed the best – and it worked completely for maker pen on paint – it actually dissolves the marker pen.

    I can see toothpaste working as its is a fine abrader – lightly scratching it off but dissolving is better.

    • Lea

    how about permanant marker on a very expensive picture I had done by a photographer. It is cardboard backed and has a protective uv coating on it so you can frame them without glass!!

    • Larry

    OMG! I tried Isopropyl Alcohol, Nail Polish Remover and WD-40, Nothing Work Except for the Tooth Paste.. It worked like a charm, the Permanent Marker came RIGHT OFF. Thank You so Much!!!

    • Linda Weening

    My grandson used permanent marker on the wood coffeetable and the vinyl floor. After trying every cleanser in the house I remembered the hairspray trick. Hairspray will take it off easily. It also worked on a bedspread.

    • Payton

    I was doing an art project for my class with sharpie markers and it was almost perfect until I wasn’t paying attention for just a moment and messed up. Well I thought there must be some way to get it off, so I googled it and found this answer. At first I thought “well thats just silly, but it cant hurt to try!” So I tryed it. And it came off perfect no marks left behind at all! Thank you.(:

    • Theresa

    Carburator cleaner removed permanent black magic marker from the white bath tub and it also removed red fingernail polish off a cream colored carpet. You can not even see the spot! Amazing

    • Babs

    Thank you! I’m cleaning out a closet in my Sig. O’s house, and the wood paneling ic absolutely covered permanent black marker, and sharpie’s. I’m using Colgate toothpaste, Suave hairspray, and Murphy’s oil soap – in that order, and ALL of the ink is coming off! THANK YOU!!! Now I won’t have to look at the garbage his sons wrote all over their closet when I’m filing papers and putting away craft projects!

    • Ellie

    So, i had an autograph on the back of my ipod which was worth really nothing. and now i want to sell it, so i tried the tooth paste and it just came right off!
    thanks 🙂

    • dada

    toothpaste worked but still has left over residue of the marker.! i need something better. thanks for this tip though.

    • CHRIS


    • Mal

    We left a permanent red marker in a pair of jeans and ran dryer. I tried most of these tips and nothing worked. However I tried another tip use 2 cups bleach and some water in a bucket. Use some old towels in the bleach/water solution and throw in dryer on high. This totaly works!!! I thought our dryer was ruined forever but it took all the stains out

    • Michele

    The dry erase marker trick worked on my LCD TV screen. Whew! Just to be safe I used a black dry erase over the black Sharpie marks, then wiped gently with a dry paper towel. Good as new. On the kids I used toothpaste. They had a blast cleaning themselves (and each other) with toothpaste and toothbrushes!

      • Carole

      I was going to use the dry erase marker but couldn’t find one. Instead, I tried the pencil eraser mentioned above for our flat screen TV. It worked GREAT!

    • Brittany


    • Rose

    OMG thank you!!!!! i got sharpie on my mum’s table and nearly died !!!!!!! thank you sooo much i would have never thought toothpaste could get marker pen off thanks a bunch!!!!

    • Paul

    Thank you. My 5 year old apologized as i was on-line checking my e-mail. Knew something was wrong. Turned around and the table was marked up pretty good…:(

    Did the toothpaste thing, worked like a charm

    Thanks again…

    • Ashi

    hahaha!!! thank you guys! i am so happy.. i accidentally marked my laptop screen with a permanent marker.. it is just a small dot but i don’t want it to be on my screen! i tried 50/50 water and isopropyl alcohol first.. it didn’t work! then i tried sunscreen! and no more mark!!!!

    thank you guys! next time when i am writing with a permanent marker, i will stay away from my laptop. me bad!

    • Sandra

    HELP! My son colored with “mess-free” finger paint from Crayola while I was feeding our twin babies. 30 minutes later the clear gel soaked into our wood table and is now yellow…

    • Joe

    I just want to say thanks for the tooth paste tip, I am a security gaurd and youths had graffited on one of the bill boards on our site and this is a requirment that we notice theses youths and stop them,

    Any way i went for my patrol to find they had used a fat permenant marker across the board however on looking found this site,

    I gave it a try as i tryed white spirits, brush, quite a few things however when i applyed the tooth paste i left for 20 secs then started rubing right away the pen began to diapear i was amazed thanks,

    • chris

    Toothpaste took the permanent marker off my guitar perfectly!!!

    Very easily found and cost effective 😀

    • Janet

    I’ve been looking through this post and I haven’t seen anyone with my particular dilemma. My 5 y/o drew all over my 17 y/o’s hand-painted rocking chair with red Sharpie. My older daughter received this rocking chair from her grandmother when she was a baby so it’s very sentimental. I’m afraid that if I take the Sharpie off, the hand-painted design will come off too. I guess it’s already ruined, but if it can be helped, I don’t want to use the wrong remedy. Any suggestions before I try one of the solutions already posted?

    • Carmen

    I have tried absolutely everything mentioned here. NOTHING is working.
    I’m trying to sell my daughters wooden bunk bed. She has written on it with green and blue sharpie. Is there anything that actually works to get it off pronto!? Could I sand it off?

    • Mon

    Hi. I accidentally shoke a bottle of black calligraphy ink and it flew everywhere, including my walls. I tried to use baby wipes which only removed a little bit and smeared some. I tried toothpaste and that didn’t work. What should I do to remove it? Thanks very much.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *