How to Get Rid of Permanent Marker

Permanent marker pens are useful, but when you discover your child has decorated your furniture, walls, floor, or even himself with one, you may wish they had never been invented. However, permanent does not have to mean forever. The ink in these pens are not dyes; instead, they adhere themselves to surfaces by a chemical bond. The key to their removal is to dissolve this chemical bond.

Place the article, stain side down, on paper towels. Pour on a little rubbing alcohol and press down on the stain with more paper towel. Do not dab or rub. As the stain begins to fade, move the area onto clean paper towel and continue to soak and press the stain. Launder on a cold water setting. If the stain is still visible or you have no rubbing alcohol available, continue with Step 2.

Spray the stain lightly with a non-oily hairspray. Blot with paper towel. Repeat until the stain has lifted. Wash the fabric in cold water.

Loosen stains on clothing using nail polish remover or acetone. Place the garment, stain side down, on paper towels. Pour a little nail varnish remover or acetone onto a clean cotton ball and press onto the stain. Repeat as necessary, then wash in cold water.

Wipe marks off glass or plastic with rubbing alcohol or nail varnish remover. If neither is available, make up a paste of baking soda and water. Dip a paper towel into the paste and rub the stain gently. It should lift off easily.

Spray stained wood with hairspray. Rub with a paper towel. Rubbing alcohol will also work.

Remove permanent marker from leather with a water displacement spray. Spray onto a paper towel, rather than directly onto the leather. Wipe carefully, ensuring you don't spread the stain further into the grain of the leather.


Alcohol swabs will remove permanent marker from computer screens. If permanent marker is used accidentally on a whiteboard, neutralise it by going over it with regular white board marker. Try rubbing alcohol on walls and laminate floors. The marker should wipe away easily. To remove marker from skin, rub with a little toothpaste on your fingertip. Be careful as toothpaste is slightly abrasive. Rub butter on sensitive areas; it may help fade the stain. Alternatively, leave the stain and it will eventually wear off through normal washing.


Always test any stain removal procedure on an inconspicuous area. Always air-dry clothing in case there is any remaining stain. This will ensure the stain won't set, as it would in a hot dryer, giving you a chance to try another method.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • White paper towels
  • Clean cloths
  • Hairspray
  • Nail polish remover/acetone
  • Cotton balls
  • Baking soda
  • Water displacement spray
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About the Author

Beverley Gee began her freelance writing career in 1982. She earned a National Diploma in information technology and business studies at Coleg Glan Hafren, Cardiff, U.K. She has written for several U.K. publications including the "South Wales Echo" and her local newspaper, "The Diary." She is also a qualified reflexologist.