View Product Range
open permanent marker on white surface

How to Remove Permanent Marker from any Surface

Share this post

Everything in life is temporary, except permanent markers. We’ve all used permanent markers for something or other; labelling, creative projects, covering up stains on shoes, writing our names on our lunch, decorating, or even creating faux tattoos on ourselves (or others). Permanent markers are wonderful for creating long-lasting memories, but using one can turn into a nightmare if we accidentally drop it onto our desk, handbag, favourite shirt, or the new carpet.

The good news is that there’s no need to throw out your permanent marker stained items. Just because that marker is ‘permanent’ doesn’t mean you have to see that permanent ‘stain’ as a reminder of your mishap.

Permanent marker stains can be removed from practically anything, it just takes a little time and patience. That’s why we’ve gathered some tips for removing permanent marker from a variety of surfaces, including wood, plastics, fabric, and furniture using household substances.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If the first attempt at removal fails, choose a different method, and try again
  • It’s important to test on a discreet surface to see if the solution is effective
  • Do not mix different cleaning products together. Always try one method first and if it doesn’t work, then properly rinse/wash it before moving on to the next
  • The success of the removal will largely depend on the surface and the amount of time the stain has been present. The longer the marking is on a surface, the more it becomes “permanent”
  • Do not use abrasive products to erase the permanent marker as they can damage porous surfaces
  • Apply the solution on the stained part and let it sit for at least five minutes or so
  • Ensure you don’t apply heat such as an iron or dryer, as this may set the stain
  • One alternative option is a water-soluble, low-toxic solution. These are citrus-based and can be as effective at removing ink as their oil-based counterparts

So, let’s get into it……


Rubbing a permanent markers mark from whiteboard. 

Don’t worry if you unintentionally used a permanent marker to write something on your whiteboard; it can be easily removed. It will require some extra effort, but removing these types of marks is not more difficult.

  • Rubbing alcohol wipes: Soak a cotton pad or a clean cloth in rubbing alcohol wipes with (70% isopropyl alcohol) and gently rub the permanent marker stain on the whiteboard. This method should remove the stain without damaging the whiteboard surface. If the ink stain is persistent, repeat steps 1-3 times until it’s gone. You can also use pre-packaged alcohol wipes.
  • Sanitiser: Permanent marker ink can be broken down by using alcohol-based sanitisers. Use a clean microfiber cloth and apply a little amount of sanitiser on it and wipe the marks on the whiteboard’s surface. To avoid streaks, keep wiping the residues off with a clean portion of the cloth.
  • Vinegar: Combine equal parts vinegar and water and apply on the permanent marker stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping it away with a clean cloth.
  • Toothpaste: Apply a little amount of toothpaste and rub it with a damp cloth over the marker stain. This procedure might require a bit more elbow grease, but it should be effective in removing the stain.
  • Baking soda: Mix baking soda and water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, wipe it off with a clean cloth.


Stain on the fabric

Before dumping your permanent marker-stained clothes in the bin, just try these daily-use products from rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser, hairspray, nail polish remover, or non-gel toothpaste to remove permanent marker from everyday fabric items like clothes, pillows, or bedsheets.

  • Hairspray: Try wiping the stain with an alcohol-based hairspray. Dab the hairspray on the stain and allow it to rest for a few minutes before putting it in a cold machine wash.
  • Baking Soda: Sprinkling some baking soda on the stain and scrubbing it with a toothbrush can also do the trick.
  • Rubbing alcohol wipes: You can also try rubbing alcohol wipes. It is advised to blot the stain rather than rubbing it out, as it might push the stain deeper into the fabric. Repeat as necessary until the stain disappears.
  • Vinegar and baking soda: Make a paste with equal parts vinegar and baking soda. Apply the paste to the fabric stain and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it with cold water.
  • Lemon juice and salt:  Make a paste with lemon juice and salt. Allow the paste to rest on the fabric stain for a few minutes before rinsing with cold water.


Permanent marker stain on the leather

The most crucial part of removing permanent marker from leather is to do so as soon as possible, as the stain can become permanently attached to it.

  • Vinegar: Permanent markers can be easily removed from leather surfaces using distilled white vinegar. Let the vinegar sit on the stain for a few minutes to ensure that it penetrates. Then try to wipe off the stain with a damp cloth in circular motions.
  • Nail Polish Remover: Acetone-containing nail polish remover can be used to remove permanent marker stains from leather. Apply a small amount on a clean cloth and rub the stain carefully. *Before applying on the stained area, test the nail polish remover on an inconspicuous area of the leather first to verify no harm or discolouration occurs.
  • Magic Eraser: Simply dampen the eraser in water be sure to delicately rub it on the stained area to avoid damaging the leather.
  • Alcohol wipes: Dampen a cotton ball in the alcohol wipes and carefully rub the marker stain. Repeat until the ink starts to fade. To prevent ink bleeding, change cotton balls frequently. Wipe away any extra alcohol with a clean, moist cloth once the leather stain has been cleared.


Carpet stained by the permanent marker

You make every effort to keep your lovely carpets clean, but accidents can happen anytime. 

  • Rubbing alcohol: The most effective way to remove permanent markers from the carpet is rubbing alcohol. Dampen a clean white cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently wipe the spot. Continue doing so until the stain fades. Any rubbing action can push the stain further into the carpet fibres, so act fast and make sure you blot it. Use a clean cloth to absorb the alcohol and extract the stain from the carpet.
  • Oil-free hairspray: You can also use an oil-free hairspray, lots of blotting rags, and plenty of patience. Pour a generous amount of hairspray onto a clean white cloth and firmly dab the permanent marker stain. Repeat as needed until the marker stain is completely removed. This stain remover’s key component is alcohol, which dissolves the dry ink, making blotting easier.
  • Detergent and Toothpaste: Permanent marker stains are fairly persistent and you’ll need to bring out your ex-factor to succeed. The combination of toothpaste and liquid soap creates a powerful stain remover which helps in getting rid of the deep shade.

Laminate, Plastic & Metal

Laminate, Plastic and Metal stained by permanent marker

Just reach into your pantry to carefully remove permanent markers from laminated surfaces without harming the finish or leaving a cloudy residue. Tea tree, eucalyptus, lemon, or pure vegetable cooking oil can all work miracles on stains.

  • Concentrated oil extracts: Lemon or eucalyptus can be powerful against paint and dyes too, so use it with caution. For larger surfaces, let the oil sit over the stain for a few minutes before gently rubbing away. Alternatively, try an oil-based product such as hairspray, hand sanitiser, or nail polish remover.
  • Baking soda: Apply baking soda to the stained area and make a paste by adding a few drops of water. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, gently scrub the stained area with the paste. Rinse the affected area with water and pat it dry with a clean cloth.
  • Cooking oil: Dab a piece of paper towel into cooking oil and gently rub it onto the stain.
  • Hairspray: Hairsprays special ingredients can help dissolve the stain on a plastic surface, making it easier to remove. After spraying the damaged area, wipe it clean with a paper towel. Remember that the chemicals in some hairsprays might cause damage to certain polymers. Before using hairspray on the stain, test it out.


Permanent marker stain

Have you ever had a permanent marker stain your hands while you were writing? 

  • Makeup remover wipes: Makeup wipes are gentle on the skin than domestic any other chemical-based removers. Apply with a cotton ball and massage for several seconds in a circular motion over the spot. Thoroughly rinse with warm water.
  • Nail polish remover: Nail polish remover, just like rubbing alcohol, contains acetone, which can help dissolve the ink. Gently massage the stained area with a cotton ball or paper towel dipped in nail polish remover.
  • Oil: You can use coconut oil, baby oil, or vegetable oil to help remove the ink stain. Apply a small amount of oil to the area, then wait a few minutes before wiping it off. After that, use a paper towel to carefully wipe the ink away.
  • Scrub with sea salt: Natural exfoliating qualities are found in sea salt. When combined with warm water, it can be used to form a light scrub that exfoliates the top layer of skin. To make a paste, combine equal parts salt water and warm water. Massage the scrub into your skin, but don’t rub it in.
  • Sunscreen: Apply a heavy coating of sunscreen on the permanent marker stain and rub it in a circular motion with your fingertips. Continue rubbing on sunscreen until all of the marker has been dissolved. After that, simply rinse everything with warm water and you’re ready to go.

The Writing on the Wall

Marker stains on the wall

If your child has gotten his or her hands on a permanent marker, you might end yourself with more wall decorations than you planned for.

  • Lemon and oil: Lemon essential oil is excellent for removing permanent markers from painted walls. The oil and the acidic lemon combine to gently coax the stain from the surface without damaging the paint. It also smells fantastic! Pour the oil onto a clean washcloth and firmly rub the marker stains. If the cloth is soaked with ink, discard it and grab a fresh one, to avoid smearing the ink. Repeat until the marks are gone.
  • Toothpaste: Apply a small amount of white toothpaste to the mark using a towel or a clean cloth. Do not use gel-based toothpaste; instead use a white toothpaste as it deliver better results. You can also dilute the toothpaste by mixing it with a little water in a cup and applying it on the affected area.
  • Hand sanitiser: Simply apply some sanitiser to a cotton ball or a cloth and gently rub on the stain. The alcohol present in the sanitiser should dissolve the ink and make it easier to remove. Hand sanitiser or other alcohol-based products, can sometimes remove paint, so be sure to test on a small area first.
  • Soapy Water: Dish soap mixed with warm water is another useful cleaning tool. To use this procedure, soak a sponge in dissolved dishwashing liquid detergent from a 3/4 bowl of warm water and gently scrub your walls with it. Dish soap isn’t powerful enough to ruin your wall’s paint, but it is efficient at erasing dry-erase marker stains.


Stains on the wooden surface

When it comes to wooden surfaces, removing permanent marker stains can be extremely frustrating due to their notoriously difficult removal process. Fortunately, permanent marker stains on wooden surfaces can be removed with a few simple procedures. Before attempting to remove the stain, determine the type of wood and finish on the surface. Certain cleaning solutions can damage some finishes, so it is essential to use a procedure that is suitable for the wood surface.

  • Toothpaste and baking soda: Toothpaste can not only remove stains from your teeth, but it can also remove stains from your wooden furniture or flooring. It’s preferable to add a little baking soda to your toothpaste. Apply a nice amount of toothpaste and baking soda to a dry cotton makeup remover pad and rub gently, going with the grain of the wood.
  •  Rubbing alcohol: Use a cotton cloth and a dab of isopropyl alcohol to loosen and lift permanent marker markings from the wooden surface. Dab lightly to moisten the area, then wipe away the residue with a damp towel. If a faint mark persists, repeat the process.
  • White vinegar and olive oil: In a mixing bowl, combine equal parts vinegar and olive oil. Rub the mixture gently over the permanent marker stain with a soft cloth. Rinse with water and pat dry with a clean towel. Scrubbing with an abrasive pad or brush can damage wood surfaces. Use a microfiber cloth or soft sponge to scrub on the stained spot.
  •  Hairspray: Simply spray the stain with hairspray and wipe the residue away using a clean cloth. The stain should start to fade quickly. Repeat the process until it disappears completely.
  • Magic eraser and oil: Alternatively, for stubborn marks, put some oil on a magic-eraser-type sponge, but go easy to avoid scratches. The citric acid in the oil pulls up the ink and leaves no damage or discolouration to the wood finish.

Top Posts


Search for Products

Search the COS range of products via the field below. You will be taken to the COS shop side of the site to view your results.