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How To Remove Permanent Marker from Surfaces

Found a permanent marker stain on your table or walls? Try these methods for removing permanent marker to banish those unsightly marks.


how to remove permanent marker

Reading time: 2 minutes

Have the budding artists in your family got a bit carried away with the permanent marker? No worry – these tips will help you remove permanent marker from walls and surfaces.

Mix equal parts white, non-gel toothpaste and baking soda to form an effective stain remover – rub it on marks with a clean, damp cloth.

How to remove permanent marker from surfaces

The first step in removing permanent marker stains is identifying the type of material that needs to be cleaned. Porous surfaces, like wood, need a different approach to non-porous surfaces like glass, plastic, and metal so how to get permanent marker off walls is different to how to get it off tables.

Porous materials: How to get permanent marker off wood

Although it is easier to get permanent marker off of wood that has been sealed with a finish, you can still remove stains from untreated wood.

Remember to test your chosen cleaning method on a small area first, and follow all safety precautions.

  1. Prepare the area before starting your stain removal. Permanent marker is difficult enough to remove on its own so make sure your surface is wiped clean

  2. Apply your chosen stain remover – white, non-gel, toothpaste mixed with baking soda works well. Apply it to the stain and rub in with a damp cloth

  3. Keep rubbing until the toothpaste (and stain) is complete removed. Change cloths as needed

  4. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to remove any residue. Then dry

Non-porous materials: How to get permanent marker off plastic surfaces

Although you can use the same method as with wood, you don’t need to be quite as gentle when dealing with permanent marker stains on non-porous materials. Exchange the toothpaste and baking soda mixture for rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser, or nail polish remover in the previous method or try using a commercial cleaner like Jif.

  1. Wipe down the surface with a dry cloth to remove dust

  2. Apply a small amount of Jif to the stain with a soft sponge

  3. Leave to work for a few minutes

  4. Rub the stain firmly with a clean cloth – the stain should come away

  5. Wipe the area with a damp cloth to rinse and then leave to dry

Top tip: hand sanitiser, rubbing alcohol, and nail polish remover may also be suitable for removing permanent marker from walls. Just remember to test on a small area first as it may fade the paintwork or damage wallpaper.

get permanent marker off plastic surfaces

Fabric materials: How to remove permanent marker on cushions

Permanent market can be trickier to remove from soft materials and fabrics, but all is not lost. Try this handy stain removal tip:

  1. Pre-treat the stain by rubbing a little liquid detergent, like OMO Ultimate Liquid, into the affected area

  2. Leave the pre-treatment to work for at least 30 minutes

  3. Wash the item at the recommended temperature – check the label to see if it is safe to wash in the machine or if you need to handwash

  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until the stain is fully removed. Do not dry the fabric until the stain is removed or you could make it more difficult to shift

These are all popular ways of removing permanent marker, but bear in mind that you may have varying degrees of success depending on the surface you’re working with. Prevention is better than cure so consider investing in plastic table mats for your kids’ next art session.

  • Prepare the surface by removing surface dust with a dry cloth

  • Apply your chosen stain remover –toothpaste mixed with baking soda or a mild solvent can help remove permanent marker from wood while rubbing alcohol, hand sanitiser, or nail polish remover can be used on non-porous surfaces

  • Wipe clean with a damp cloth

Originally published