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How to Remove Permanent Marker From Paper

Updated July 20, 2017

Permanent markers are available in a wide range of colours and tip thicknesses and are commonly used for drawing and marking on poster boards for presentations. Perhaps their most useful quality is the fact they are permanent; however, at times this permanence can be a negative quality, namely if you've made a mistake in your drawing or writing. Permanent marker is difficult, but not impossible, to remove from paper.

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  1. Identify the thickness of paper and a reagent appropriate for that thickness. The success of removing permanent marker from paper heavily depends on the type of paper you have written on. Thicker paper, such as poster board, can handle toothpaste, denatured alcohol, and nail polish remover. A dry erase marker would work best for removing permanent marker from thinner paper, such as computer paper.

  2. Smear, wipe or draw over the ink you want to remove with your reagent of choice, be it toothpaste, denatured alcohol, nail polish remover or a dry erase marker. Leave the reagent on the ink for a few minutes.

  3. Carefully wipe the component off the paper with a damp tissue. Ensure the tissue is only slightly wet, too wet and you can potentially tear the paper. Repeat if the marking was not completely removed from the paper.

  4. Repeat these steps using the same reagent a second time if the ink was not completely removed, allowing the paper to dry between trials. If the ink still does not come off, try one of the other removal options.

  5. Tip

    If removing the ink was unsuccessful or the paper is too thin, you can cover the marker so it is removed from sight. Cut a piece of paper of the same type and paste it over the permanent marker ink you want to cover. Alternatively, use correction fluid to cover the permanent marker completely and remove it from view. If you cannot remove the permanent marker ink and think covering it will be too obvious, you can instead try to incorporate your mistake. For example, if you meant to write "people" but for the third letter you made a straight vertical mark, change the word to "persons." Or, if the area where you made the mistake is near the border of the paper or poster, try to incorporate that mark into a border design. This may even end up making the final project more aesthetically pleasing.

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Things You'll Need

  • Toothpaste
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Nail polish remover
  • Dry erase marker
  • Glue or tape
  • Correction fluid


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