3 Ways to Remove Permanent Marker from Virtually Any Surface

Permanent markers are essential tools in many households. They’re useful for arts and crafts, and they come in pretty handy for labeling and organizing things, too. Unfortunately, as the name implies, permanent markers can be difficult to remove once applied. Although the name also implies that they are “permanent,” these markers aren’t really. Using a variety of methods, you can remove permanent marker from virtually any surface. Check it out!

Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic

So, you used a permanent marker to label a few plastic bins a couple of years ago and now you want to use them for storing something else. Rather than cross off the old label and write in a new one (tacky!), try this. 

Using a dry-erase marker, cover the permanent marker completely. Use a paper towel or dry cloth to wipe the dry-erase marker away. If any permanent marker remains, repeat the process until gone. 

Remove Permanent Marker from Skin

Turns out you don’t need to scrub vigorously or allow time for the permanent marker to fade away. Hand sanitizer works wonders to remove permanent marker from the skin. Simply squirt a little directly on the marks, rub gently with your fingers or a soft cloth, then wipe the stain and any excess sanitizer away. 

Erase Permanent Marker from Wood

Not only does toothpaste clean your teeth, but it also cleans permanent marker from wood surfaces like your floors. Paste toothpastes with baking soda work best, but if your toothpaste doesn’t contain baking soda, you can add some to it yourself. Just apply the toothpaste to the stain using a soft cloth or an old toothbrush. Using a circular motion, scrub the stain. Wipe away any residue and repeat as necessary until the stain is gone. 

*Note – Don’t use gel toothpaste for this method as it won’t work. 

Get Permanent Marker Out of Clothing

If you accidentally get permanent marker on your favorite item of clothing, all is not lost. You can get permanent marker out of many clothing items using the following methods. 

Cotton and Wool

Hairspray is an effective cleaner for getting permanent marker out of cotton and wool clothing. Be sure the hairspray you use contains alcohol as it’s the secret ingredient. 

Step 1 – Spray the permanent marker with hairspray until wet

Step 2 – Allow the hairspray to sit for 15 minutes

Step 3 – Wash 

For cotton clothing, toss the item in the washer (alone in case the marker bleeds) and wash as normal. 

For wool, hand wash to remove the stain and prevent damage to the item. 


Distilled white vinegar is extremely effective at removing permanent marker from leather without damaging it. Just dab vinegar on the stain with a soft cloth. Let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe the stain and the excess off with the same soft cloth. 

Although the name would have you think otherwise, permanent marker isn’t really permanent. In fact, you can remove it quite easily from a variety of surfaces using the methods outlined above.