How to Remove Expo Dry Erase Marker From a Couch

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Getting dry erase marks off a whiteboard is so easy; surely this ink is equally easy to remove from other surfaces, right? If only: Once an Expo dry erase marker has stained your couch, the mark might not be willing to budge. You can try getting dry erase marker out of a couch using a few common household cleaners, but there's no guarantee that any will work completely.


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How Dry Erase Marker Ink Works

You might assume that dry erase and permanent markers use a similar kind of ink, and therefore could be cleaned in a similar way. In fact, permanent ink tends to be easier to remove from fabric than dry erase ink is.

The kind of ink used in Expo brand markers, and other dry erase markers like them, is comprised of pigment, solvent and polymer. The solvent dissolves the pigment so the color flows evenly out of the marker. Dry erase markers use an oily silicone polymer that acts as a release agent, keeping the ink from bonding to the surface of the material it's used on. This oily polymer makes the ink slippery when it's used on a whiteboard or other non-porous surface. But when the ink is used on porous material, like the fabric of your couch, it soaks into that material.


By comparison, permanent markers are made with an acrylic polymer that binds the ink to whatever it touches. If you get a permanent marker stain on your couch, the ink will dry on the surface of the fabric rather than soaking into the pores of the fabric. That makes it a little easier to get permanent marker out of a couch than to get dry erase marker out of a couch.

Getting Dry Erase Marker Out of a Couch

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The company that makes Expo markers doesn't share any guidance about how to treat stains created with these markers. But dry erase markers are generally made in the same way, regardless of manufacturer, so the cleaning advice for getting dry erase marker out of a couch should apply to any brand.


Crayola suggests treating stains created by its dry erase markers using alcohol. Try soaking a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and blotting the mark to see if it lightens. Or, if the stain is on a removable cushion cover, take the cover off and blot the stain with alcohol before washing the entire cushion cover with detergent. (Don't put the cushion cover in the dryer, at least not if the stain remains; the dryer's heat will set it and make it impossible to remove.)

Cleanup might be even easier if the marks on your couch originated with one of Expo's washable dry erase markers, which the company has produced in the past. Washable dry erase markers are – of course – made with ink that more easily dissolves in soapy water. If a washable marker left the stain on your couch, try dipping a damp cloth in detergent and blotting the stain with it. Follow with a clean damp cloth to remove any sudsy residue.


More (Possible) Solutions to Try

Whether rubbing alcohol or laundry detergent has any effect on the stain will depend on the fabric of your couch and the age and severity of the stain. If either alcohol or detergent don't get rid of the mark, try using Murphy's Oil Soap. This soap is made for cleaning wood, but many people swear by its ability to lift dry erase marker stains, too. Use a cloth or soft, clean toothbrush to work a dot of the soap into the stain, and follow with a clean, damp cloth. Test the oil soap in a hidden part of the couch fabric first to make sure it won't leave a visible stain that's worse than the dry erase marker.


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A Magic Eraser can also be effective at getting rid of stubborn stains on a variety of surfaces, including on whiteboards themselves. If you have one on hand, it doesn't hurt to give it to a try on your couch. Dampen the sponge and gently scrape it back and forth across the stain. Again, test the sponge on a hidden patch of the fabric first to make sure you know what effect it has on your couch's fabric.