How to Remove Permanent Marker: The Truth

“Glorious,” I thought, staring at my newly repainted glisteningly perfect generic eggshell-white walls at 3 am—because I’ll sleep when I’m childless. I imagined to myself those walls might actually stay white this time. They would. They did for approximately 5 hours, until my children awoke and one waltzed down the stairs dragging a handful of markers as he went. “It’s a rainbow,” he screamed from timeout, and oh, I was over the rainbow. At this point I had one of those mom-brain moments where it seemed like a good idea to Google anything beyond pointless trivia—it turns out my walls either have marker on them or cancer, I’m not sure. If it’s marker, the Internet proudly informs, “No need to repaint! Just slather this long list of random shit on it and scrub until your arm aches!”How to Remove Permanent Marker how to get sharpie off skin

Okey, dokey.

It started with toothpaste, because that was already on the other walls in spots, but all I got was a newly minted rainbow.

Next, I popped it with Magic eraser, because what mom doesn’t have one of those. The smeared and only lightly faded result sneered back at me.

But that got me feeling artsy I guess, because next I tried tracing the masterpiece with a dry erase marker and wiping it away. It turned out twice as lovely, but don’t worry, the net has more solutions for how to remove permanent marker.

Bug spray! Hair spray! Lemon oil! WD40! Rubbing Alcohol! Nail polish remover! Aftershave! Windex! Coffee?!?

Vodka, for me I mean, because none of that worked, and I don’t think words have been invented to describe how that smells.

No folks, I have come to the conclusion that the reason people think such a long list of ridiculous things remove marker of any sort from painted walls is that they scrubbed so hard the paint came off and with it the marker. The next time you run into someone that suggests otherwise, politely ignore them, cause you know they’ve got some guns from scrubbing all that paint away. Once you’re at a safe distance, either learn to live with your new interior decorators work or suck it up, killz it, and repaint, because I promise that’s the easiest answer.

I found once I had recently painted all my walls, saving the paint mix codes made it easy to spot repaint.

On that note, what if it isn’t permanent marker, and it isn’t on a white wall? Then can it be removed? Maybe.

What’s the easiest way to clean marker, pencil or crayon off households surfaces?

Marker on sealed hard surfaces is actually the easiest to deal with. Drawings on things like televisions, counter tops, clear-coated wood floors, desks or other household items can be quickly removed with fingernail polish remover. If you don’t have any, rubbing alcohol comes in as a close second-best thing. Remember in either case to keep the area well ventilated as both options are a bit high on fumes. This does not apply to porous surfaces, such as unsealed wood or painted walls.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will also usually take washable crayons or non-permanent markers off of painted walls and some porous surfaces.

When it comes to marker on cloth surfaces, if you can’t throw the item in the washer, in cases like couches, you can try a bit of laundry spot remover and a rag. It really depends on the type of fabric your kiddo has chosen to draw on. As a side note, they sell spray on stain guards at most furniture stores that help fabric surfaces resist stains. These coatings also make it easier to clean art off, but then that’s a preemptive strike.

If you can’t remove marker on your couch by hand, you can rent a shampoo machine with an upholstery tool. However, if you have an avid artist or multiple children you may want to invest in buying one. The Bissell Little Green Machine, for example, costs around $70 to $90, and works excellent for couches and car interiors alike.

Finally, skin, how to get sharpie off skin. Your skin is a porous surface of course, and sadly, that means removing marker from it is very difficult. Please don’t listen to people who tell you to use rubbing alcohol or toothpaste or whatever. Again, the skin is a porous surface. If it’s a really small patch that might be doable, but as most kids do the head-to-toe act, you have to keep in mind their skin is absorbing what you’re putting on it–just don’t smother your child in nail polish remover, K? Washing with soap and water will fade it, and that’s about all you can do, frequent washing and long sleeves until it’s gone.



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