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!

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    • Jessica

    Hairspray…the cheaper the better…Aqua Net works great for removing marker.

    • Kiley

    I got green sharpie marker on a vinyl ottoman got some of it off, mainly lightened it.. What should I use??

    • Rosie

    Normally I use googone, but it did not work this time. I had marker from my daughter trying to make me a picture on the wall for a week now. I have tried googone, toothpaste, and then I thought after reading from this site to use hand sanditizer. IT WORKS HOLY !! I was so happy that it came off because it was green marker on beige wall in the dining room. Anyways, thanks for the suggestion. I will def be comming back to this site if I have another problem.. Lol!

    • mark

    The tothpaste really works…

    I bought a camper trailer and the salesperson had written “SOLD” on the outside with a permanent marker. I scrubbed it with a tiny bit of toothpaste and it came off.

    • Rose

    I bought a pair of red (non-leather) high heel shoes with gold marker on it for a steal price hoping to get off this mark. Checked out this website for ideas. Realized I had a WD40 pen, was hesitant to try it in case it left a mark…but extremely happy that it worked!

    • Glen

    Thank you sooooooooo much, I just tried toothpaste on a white wood desk and it works!!!!!! As my wife foolishly left a permanent maker without the lid on our brand spanking new baby’s bedroom furniture. Our poor little two year old daughter managed to get her hands on it and made a very long black mark on the desk. I thought all hope was lost as the pen being a permanent, instead I looked on internet and found your website and saved the desk with toothpaste. Thanks again!

    • Angela

    I am trying to paint my garage which my son has used spray paint and permanent marker on the walls. They keep bleeding through…what am I going to do?? I have already put 2 coats of paint on the walls and ceiling. Someone please HELP!!!

    • J'Lee

    My friend got sharpi on my skinny jeans. Does anybody have an idea on how to get it out?? Im DESPRITE!!!!

    • BookHarpie

    Guess what. Toothpaste worked on our wood floor, but 409 worked even better. Neither hurt the finish. W00T! One happy mama.

      • susan

      go toothpaste!

    • Lenny the nerd

    I made some sharpie marks (in error) on my nice new table. I really didnt think toothpaste had a chance. But – well you already know. It worked perfectly. And is non toxic!
    Awesome. Thanks

    • Beaux

    Oh my gosh!!! I had just found where one of my grandchildren marked on my fine dining room table with a marker this morning. I was freaking out………my husband was going to be furious………But, I found this website and immediately tried the toothpaste recommendation. Specifically, I had Colgate Cavity Protection, which is solid white. I used a very tiny amount on the very smallest mark to test. To my amazement, it totally got that marker out without any obvious damage to the finish. I then carefully used very teeny amounts of toothpaste following the outline of the bigger marks………..waited a few seconds and rubbed. On the bigger marks, I had to do a second application. But by golly, got the entire stain off without damaging my table’s finish. My marriage should survive!

    • Trish

    My granddaughter drew flowers on some very thin paper. The marker colors went through the paper onto a blond wood table. The dry eraser scrub took every stain out!! Thank God, because it wasn’t my table!

    • Jer

    I have a problem with dry erase markers and wood. I accidentally wrote on a wooden door thinking the dry erase marker would come right off, and it didnt.
    I’ve tried alcohol, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and nothing’s really worked.

    I plan on getting some sunscreen and bug spray tomorrow,
    but is there anything i can do?

    • Mike

    Toothpaste works great!!

    • Dawn

    Me my mother and older sister just got a used mobile home given to us and in my room there was magic marker(Permanent marker) all over the walls so I used hand sanitizer from my local dollar tree and it came off like nothing.It also started to peel off the wall color and we fond out the walls were originally paneling so we decided to remove as much as possible for marker till we get wall paint to cover the walls again.

    • Agent H.

    Use GermStar sanitizer it works right away! I used and on the first rub it got permanet marker off. Good luck! 🙂

    • ladyred99

    we had no toothpaste, alcohol didnt remove marker from a new dryer and still had wet clothes to dry. we tried everything listed here that we had but finally it was easy=off oven spray that got it off. will buy toothpaste for next time as oven spray made me high…lol

    • PML

    Thank you!! My daughter drew pictures of her sister all over the white-painted dresser. The toothpaste got it all out! I am so pleased! It did take a little of the shiny finish off the drawer knob, so I definitely suggest spot-testing first. You saved me from purchasing 6 new dresser drawers. Thanks again!

    • Valerie

    For many years I worked in a garment factory. I bought my Dad pants and he left a pen in the pocket so of course all of his pants had pen steaks on them. One of the cleaners/repairers at work told me to bring them in and he used a solution to remove all of the marks! I commented that it smelled like alcohol and he said that was the main active ingredient. I have used it many times to remove such marks from clothes and also from metal objects that have permanent marker on them. The main concern with the clothing is that the alcohol should be tested on the inside seam for colorfastness;with the permanent marker on metal it should be done before the color leeches into the paint or metal.

    • Ulo

    Try using alcohol. Sharpie markers are alcohol based, so using rubbing alcohol will remove the ink from many things.

    • Kayla

    I got black sharpie on my desk that has white wood. I used toothpaste and it can right off. Thanks so much for the help

    • Summer

    I removed permanent black marker from a ceramic water pitcher with nail polish. I painted white nail polish on the black marker spot (trying to paint it white to match the paint on the pitcher), rubbed it and the marker was gone!

    • Lillian

    My 3 year old just wrote all over my slipcover with a sharpie pen and I have tried everything to get it out to no avail. Help

    • Georgie

    Thank goodness for this site. we are renting and my naughty wrote her name in permanent marker on wooden windowsill. I didnt have any white toothpaste in house, just the gel kind, so I tried hairspray and it worked! Thanks ever so much for the tips!

    • Candacey

    This totally worked i wrote on my wall with permanent marker and i couldnt get it off and i looked on google and found this it so work thank you

    • Tom

    i accidentaly drew on my sisters metal framed bet with permanant marker, and i cant get any fancy products, and have tried hairspray, nail remover, washing it, but nothing works, and im going to get into trouble, please help!!!!!!!!!!!

    • andrea

    thank you for the tips. i made my 8 year old scrub off the marker he put on the wall, foot stool, dresser, piggy bank and small plastic table. the toothpaste worked great on the foot stool and the piggy bank and the nail polish remover worked on the table, painted dresser, and wall. thank you thank you thank you

    • shari

    toothpaste worked great on my mirror-cheap aquafresh

    • IHasPi

    Toothpaste didnt work, but my dads LA.’s Famous Awesome did, you can get it from the Doller Tree!

    • ihaveaproblem


    • Alan

    The toothpaste worked great on my desk thank you very very very much God bless

    • Mobzy Badman

    it doesnt work what type of toothpaste shoud i use guys

    • Richelle

    My daughter drew on the bathroom sinktop with a sharpie….I couldn’t get it off. One day I go in and the sink is all wet and I smelled my curve crush parfume. I look down and the sharpie mark is wet and almost gone. Someone said it was the rubbing alcohol in it. She later wrote on her nintendo dsi with yet another sharpie….I took an alcohol wipe like you see at the doctor’s and it wiped right off!

    • help

    my 2 year old used a sharpie marker on our faux leather couch and chair. he scribbled circles all across the seats. we tried magic eraser, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, toothpaste. Nothing seems to work. Any words of advice? It happened yesterday, so I am worried it will set in.

    • Danielle

    i used the off insect repellant and it worked 🙂 but acetone works too 🙂 yes! these two are amazing 🙂 i recommend them :)))

    • jalena

    My 2yr old drew all over my microfiber couch with a black sharpie. Help how do i get it out!!!

    • Brianne

    i let my friend use my red faux leather chair in her apartment!! big mistake.. her 3 year old son scribbled on it with marker!! i’m not sure what kind of marker.. any ideas on how to get it off?? i don’t want to have to buy a new chair!!!!

    • Jeremy

    How do you remove a black sharpie used to write on leather or vinyl without damaging it. Thank you.

    • Alexys

    My 4 year old decided to write on a real wood paneled wall with a Sharpie instead of her coloring book with washable markers (of course!) I tried both spray sunblock and bug spray and both worked rather well. There was a bit of the mark still there but it kind of just blended with the wood grain, so its not terribly noticeable. Thanks SO SO much!

    • Michi

    please help my friends got permanent marker on my bag ive tried jif and soap. how do i get it off

    • Tim

    I have an Alpine White Gibson Les Paul Custom, which I love dearly and look after really well. Kinda like a mother with a child. Anyway, one day, turned it over and there was a black mark running right down the middle of the body D: I freaked. It wouldn’t come off. No matter how hard I rubbed. So, I looked on here and as it turns out tooth paste is a marvelous thing. Put it on, left it for a minute and then rubbed the mark again and it started to come off. 5 minutes and one very sore elbow later, the mark was gone :). Then all I had to do was clean up the greasy toothpaste marks with some Lemon Oil and voila! Good as new.

    • anna

    try using lysol and rubbing the wall it may take some paint of but it works better then any of the tips above

    • Myron

    OMG I ordered a super nintendo USB controller and tried to make a cool logo on the front it turned out horrid and i wanted to get it out so i got a toothbrush and hand sanitizer and it started to come off but I could still see it so i got a pencil and erased it and I still saw it a little bit of it so I put the sanitizer on there and erased it I dont see nothin and i used a SUPER PERMANENT MARKER much thanks

    • shelby

    Heyy guys I’m doing a science fair project and wanted to know how would I get sharpie marker off of a mirror?!?!?!

    • Rachellyn

    The toothpaste worked!! So glad to have found this tip!! My 7 yr old wrote on my friends wood table and I would have felt HORRIBLE!!

    • Monica

    I got permanent marker on my nude color heels and I tried nail polish remover but the shoe shine started to come off so I quickly stopped. Now, I don’t know what to try. They were really expensive heels too. Both shoes are stained 🙁

    • Katie

    My baby brother drew on our new white walls and i i am trying the toothpast. It does not lokk like its going to work but stil worth a try sens everbody says it works.

    • Katie

    I have a question.How much tooth past do you need?

    • Christine

    My new white leather couch somehow got red permanent Sharpie marker on the seat after my sons birthday party……approx a 3 inch line…..i was a huge skeptic and also afraid of damaging the leather, but tried the spray SPF 30 sunscreen (not Coppertone, but Walmarts brand!). I sprayed it on a white towel first then rubbed the mark at the top of the line, and IT WORKED! I used it very sparingly, and quickly. Came right off! THANKS for the WONDERFUL TIP!

    • Tse

    Shampoo also works. That’s how I removed the permanent marker ink my roommate left on my monitor. Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to not only stick a post-it note on a computer screen, but also to write directly on it.

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