10 Clever Hacks to Remove Permanent Marker from Any Surface

Updated: Nov. 24, 2023

Using permanent marker can be risky—one small slip up and something gets ruined. Wrong! Here, you'll find 10 effective ways to remove permanent marker when it ends up on unintended surfaces in your home.

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permanent marker HH vegetable oil remover
Family Handyman

Laminate Countertop

To carefully remove permanent marker from laminate surfaces without harming the finish or leaving a cloudy residue, just reach into your pantry! Regular vegetable oil works perfectly. There are a couple of steps to this process; click here to see how it’s done.

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Before tossing your permanent marker-stained clothes into the trash, try dabbing the spot with hairspray that contains alcohol. It will help to break down the stain more aggressively than your normal laundry detergent. Let the hairspray sit on the stain for several minutes before washing in the washing machine.

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pouring baking soda onto upholstery
Family Handyman

Couch and Chair Cushions

Accidentally getting permanent marker on your upholstery may seem like a disaster, but sprinkling some baking soda on the mark and scrubbing it with a toothbrush will do the trick. Repeat this simple process until the stain is fully removed. Check out six more brilliant ideas for cleaning furniture without using harsh chemicals.

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Lemon is a well-known natural cleaner for your home, and lemon essential oil is great for removing permanent marker on painted walls. The acidic lemon and oil work together to gently coax the stain off of the surface without removing the paint. Plus it smells great!

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white vinegar and water cleaning solution


Permanent marker 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 wipe off the stain with a damp cloth and circular motions. Click here to learn how to remove other kinds of stains from leather using natural ingredients!

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dry erase board permanent marker handy hints
Family Handyman


Accidentally using a permanent marker on a whiteboard is a common mistake, and it’s actually easy to fix. To remove the stain, color over the permanent marker stain with a whiteboard marker, and it should easily wipe away with a whiteboard eraser. Click here to see how it works. Bonus tip: This trick also works to remove permanent marker from stainless steel appliances!

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Ever have a Sharpie leak on your hands while writing? It’s frustrating, for sure, but it’s also easy to erase with makeup remover wipes. Simply rub the wipes in a circular motion over the stain to lift the stain off of the skin. Another option is standard rubbing alcohol, but that may irritate sensitive skin.

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

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Syda Productions/Shutterstock


Removing permanent marker from carpet is simple with a little nail polish remover. Be sure to dab (not smear) it over the stained area, and swap out for a clean cloth as you go so you don’t put marker back into the carpet you have just cleaned. Find out how to get other stains out of your carpet here.

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Kitchen Cabinets

Save your kitchen cabinets from permanent marker doodles with vegetable oil. Use a cotton ball to apply it to the stain and scrub it off with circular motions. Repeat as needed until the marker is gone; then wipe off the excess oil with a damp cloth.

Check out these 10 simple kitchen cabinet repairs you can do.

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Go ahead and label your plastic containers with a permanent marker. When you want to remove it, just reach for some hand sanitizer. A small squirt of hand sanitizer rubbed over the stain with a paper towel should take it right off.