What Solvents Will Remove Permanent Marker Ink?


Permanent markers are valued precisely because of their ink's staying power, but that same staying power can create problems when unwanted marks occur. However, despite the name "permanent", there are several ways to remove permanent marker ink. All solutions should be tested first on a small area for colorfastness. If removing ink from an article of clothing, the item should be left to air dry after attempting to remove the stain. Drying the item in a machine dryer can set the stain and make it almost impossible to remove.

Rubbing alcohol

  • Rubbing alcohol is one of the most common ways to remove permanent marker ink. Dampen the stained area with rubbing alcohol and blot with a paper towel. The marker ink should come off as you blot it. A hair spray with high alcohol content or hand sanitizer also can be used, if rubbing alcohol is not at hand.


  • Whitening toothpaste can be used as a stain remover. Simply rub the toothpaste over the stain, let sit for a few minutes and then wipe off the toothpaste with a washcloth or paper towel. Wipe the area with a wet towel or cloth afterwards to remove any remnants of toothpaste. This should be tried only on non-porous surfaces, as toothpaste is difficult to remove from fabric or carpet.

Nail Polish Remover

  • Nail polish remover is good at getting difficult stains off of flooring or walls. Simply saturate a cotton ball in the nail polish remover, and swipe in a circular motion over the stain until it disappears.

Denatured Alcohol

  • Denatured alcohol is used in the same manner as rubbing alcohol. However, it definitely must be tested in an inconspicuous area first, as it's used as a stripper and can damage some surfaces.

Commercial Cleaners

  • Several commercial cleaners can be used to remove permanent marker. Goof Off and Spot Shot are two popular cleaners. Look for stain removers and cleaners that specifically say they work for permanent marker ink, or cleaners with high alcohol or acetone contents.

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  • Photo Credit marker image by Rich Johnson from Fotolia.com
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