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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    • Jacob Awrey

    Very important!!!!! We got a brand new white double mattress yesterday and i sat on ot today and had a pen explode in my pocket, what can i use to get it out any help would be amazing!!!!

    • Angelia

    I have a dresser that was painted, so I got it striped. I was suppose to stain it but never got a chance. My son took a red and blue marker to it pretty good. What can I use to fix it. It is still in good shape and would like to salvage it.

    • Christian

    The sunscreen really works A++++ for the genious who found that out.

    • Brienna

    My golly the toothpaste trick actully works im so pleased with the outcome it was like magic

    • Vanessa

    Does anyone know what to use to get it off a chromebook?

      • Jessica

      My daughter has a chromebook and she got sharpoe on it so all you do is you is leave toothpaste on the mark for 5 minutes the rub it off with a damp cloth and volia
      Works like a charm

    • caitlin

    HELP! i need to get permanent sharpie marker off of my laptop screen before the weekend ends. i was tracing pictures on my laptop screen for my brother and i didnt see what i picked up and now there is a sharpie outline of a dog on my screen. (without rubbing alcohol)

    • nora

    the bug spray one worked great on my white desk. i had spilled some nail polish remover on a sharpie picture and looked at the ones on here. i tried the dry erase marker one, the toothpaste, and the hairspray. the bug spray one worked great after leaving it on for maybe a minute or two, i wiped it away and you cant even tell anymore. my parents will never know. haha. totally recommend bug spray

    • Alex

    I was coloring with sharpie and it bled through. I used sun screen, baby wipes, and elbow grease and it was gone.

    • Katelyn

    I used a blue whiteboard marker then a dry black whiteboard marker and then I used a pencil eraser and now you can’t even tell there was perminant sharpie on the wood desk! ?

    • Nicole

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for these tips! I had Sharpie on my desk and I tried the dry-erase marker tip and it WORKED INSTANTLY!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!

    • RENEE

    I arrived to work and noticed that my co-worker had gotten creative in making a sign using a black sharpie with white copy paper on our stark white lobby desk. He was so proud of his sign that i didnt want to go into mother mode and go in on him about the faint black lines on the desk, but it was really bothering me! I tried a lysol wipe and it didnt work. I didnt have most of what was suggested available to me at work but i remembered a dry erase kit i saw in one of the conference rooms. The dry erase cleaner spray worked, i just sprayed it on, let it sit for about a minute and wiped it off with the eraser that came with the kit. Great tips, thank you!

    • Mimi

    My sister wrote all over my door in purple permanent marker and nothing is working. Now I have dry erase marker and permanent marker that won’t come off. Please help

      • Georgia

      just use hand sanitiser

    • Morgan4444444

    I tried all of these except for the insect repellent and the ammonia. The expo marker made it worse and the toothpaste and sunscreen did absolutely nothing.

    • School Students

    HELP!its stuck on our desks and we can’t get it off we tried everything!

    • Georgia

    If you are at school and if you get artline 70 permanent marker on your desk use hand sanitiser and it works so well and it may only leave a little bit on and if it does just use window spray or fly spray

    • Joanna Colling

    Hi I have got marker pen on my new stone hearth for fire Place and I have tried everything to get it off
    What can I do
    Please help

    • kiara

    it so works on wood I put toothpast then with a wet towel it worked

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