Robin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has three children and loves to share her tips and tricks for staying organized.
How to Get Sharpie Off the Wall
Will your wall ever be the same? Yes!
Our two-year-old daughter decided to express her artistic side by drawing on our living room wall with a red Sharpie permanent marker pen. I originally thought that we were going to have to repaint the area, but we were able to get the stain out due to the quick thinking and expertise of my father-in-law, George. Here's how we did it and what you'll need.
Supplies You'll Need
- Rubbing alcohol
- Sponge with an abrasive side
Step 1: Test the Rubbing Alcohol
When cleaning a new surface, try a rubbing small amount of the rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous spot to ensure it will not damage the surface. Some paint will probably come off with the ink, so scrub with care.
Step 2: Scrub With Rubbing Alcohol
Pour a good amount of rubbing alcohol on a washcloth and scrub the area. Our daughter used red ink, so the wall was pink after our first pass using the rubbing alcohol.
Step 3: Use a Sponge
Fill a bowl with water and use the abrasive side of a sponge to scrub the remaining color off. You can pour rubbing alcohol on the sponge to remove the final color.
Step 4: Continue Repeating the Previous Steps
This was a first pass. The color actually stands out more in the photo, but we did do a few more applications. By the end, there was no evidence of any red Sharpie!
Note on How to Remove Marker Stains From Clothing
We tried Comet and OxiClean on the wall, but neither product did much good.
But if you have a stain on clothing, OxiClean for Babies is a miracle worker. I have been able to get out almost anything with it.
I wet the stain and generously pour on the BabyOxi and let it sit for a few hours. For particularly difficult stains, I may need to wash off the powdered Oxy and keep reapplying. It works even when the clothes have been washed and dried with the stain.
3 More Ways to Remove Permanent Marker
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Do you have any cleaning tricks up your sleeve?
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on August 07, 2019:
Thanks, Lily! That is great advice. :)
Lily on August 06, 2019:
First open your windows. Secondly, Mix 3-4tbs baking powder and roughly 1/2 cup boiling water in a glass or porcelain jug. The mixture should start to foam up imediatley. After that, dip a scourer or the rough part of a kitchen sponge into your baking soda mixture and scrub walls with your elbow grease (scrub the part of the wall with permanent marker stains and scrub roughley with scourer) you might need to wash the scourer a couple of times. After youve scrubbed the wall, dab scrubbed part of wall with bog roll so it dries a bit quicker.wait for wall to dry and then the permanent marker stain should at least almost be gone. Repeat this process again if its not completely gone. Once the wall has completely been dealt with,spray walls with deodrant or perfume or some sort of fragrancy spray as your room may be a bit pongy and smell like salt and chemicals.You will now have a very clean wall...
Saskia on May 16, 2017:
You saved y wall!! Thanks
Donna Benoit on September 09, 2016:
Just used the alcohol and a green scrubby on a new piece of equipment that we labeled for ID, here at work, then he decided he wants to return it. All clean and without a hint of marks or surface marring. Thanks to you all.
Pam on August 18, 2016:
Toothpaste-just work it in with a toothbrush-wipe with w wet cloth to remove residue until all clear. Works brilliantly
Hezekiah from Japan on July 08, 2014:
Excellent guide there, a must for family with children. We bought a newly built house so are sensitive to marks etc.
Elmira on May 22, 2014:
Thank you for the article! I just removed one month old paintings with 91% alcohol.
Christine on May 12, 2014:
Toothpaste was my saviour when my kids decided they would draw with pens n markers on their nan's walls, for an especially difficult mark leave the toothpaste on for a few minutes, give it a quick scrub n it's all gone.
Richard Parr from Australia on March 12, 2014:
Great stuff, always useful to know when budding artist three year old gets her hands on the Sharpie.
Sam Hawkins from Georgia on March 11, 2014:
Thanks for this useful tip. My spouse and I have had to repaint our apartment because of our son's artistic display on the walls.
Mickji from between Italy and Switzerland, travelling around the world thanks to a little special object on March 11, 2014:
I really needed this ! My house is all painted with something weird, I must find a way to delete it before trying to paint it else the walls can become mushy because of it and humidity. I really thank you, I think that this can be applied to it too !
Nancy on February 28, 2014:
I usually remove that by acetone.
cass on February 10, 2014:
Ive tried every cleaner and alcohol etc.....marker is still there a bit faded but that's it :(
Totally disappointed not my house or walls.
FullOfLoveSites from United States on December 27, 2013:
Thanks for this information from you and from other commenters... I learned a lot from you. My niece used crayons to draw on my dining room wall. I will apply every possible solutions you offer. :)
Janis from California on December 26, 2013:
This is good to know about the OxyClean. Thanks for the suggestion.
Neil Cook from United States on December 26, 2013:
Incredible! I think you just saved a lot of people time and money on re-painting!
Shirley on December 26, 2013:
Hairspray gets it all off
Elizabeth Parker from Las Vegas, NV on July 01, 2013:
These are good tips to follow. I've tried Windex too and that has helped get some stains off of the wall. Thanks for posting! Voted up!
JerryP7 on March 05, 2013:
From time to time I have to remove graffiti in a commercial building. Alcohol removed Sharpie marks. Once most of it's gone with that I use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (following directions - damp) to clean up what is left.
ATWITSEND on January 29, 2013:
what do you do when child is excellent at hiding permanent marker and crayon drawings? My 8 year old hid a rather large drawing on bedroom wall NOTHING works!! Not even paint it bleeds threw even when heavy primer used.
kristina shoultz on January 13, 2013:
thanks for the tips and i used alcohol and it took the pen and pant off the walls so make sure you have white walls for the alcohol tip lol
Michelle on October 09, 2012:
crazy but the sunscreen really worked! I couldn't believe it.
Chessna on September 12, 2012:
Thanks for the tip with alcohol. I will have to try that out.
For anyone trying to get permanent marker off of electronics here is a great tip...my darling 2 yr old daughter drew all over our dvd/stereo system with black permanent marker, I was out of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, and the majority of my go-to cleaning products. I had a bottle of Goo Be Gone in my cabinet and thought "Heck, I'll give it a try". It worked amazingly! I didn't have to scrub, just simply wiped it over the marks a couple times. To top it off, the marker had already been on there for 5 hrs because I hadn't been able to find what she had drawn on besides herself.
Short fused mother on August 03, 2012:
We used magic erasers and it did just that, just like magic the black sharpie was gone.
Namie Williams on July 05, 2012:
The same story.......
My 3yr old brther scribled all sorts of markers highlighters permanent markers, board markers etc but i tried all things but nothing worked....
Any other remedies?......
Martin on May 20, 2012:
Just had my 3 yr old son do the same thing.
I found using a cloth & PVCu Solvent Cleaner normally used to clean your PVC around your windows took off the marker in less then 10 seconds with no trace of the art work.
DO NOT scrub hard or it will take off the paint but just wipe softly and its all gone. :)
Bonnie on April 22, 2012:
To get permanent marker off finished woodwork, which alcohol & nail polish remover will ruin, use *toothpaste* - it really works.
Amazing on March 17, 2012:
Those kendall webcol alcohol prep swipes works wonders for marks on the wall! I had permanent marker on my wall just got an alcohol swipe and it came off like nothing!
its simple on February 24, 2012:
all you need to remove permanent marker from any hard surface is AXE OR TAG BODY SPRAY and a wet rag
Melissa on February 13, 2012:
Sharpie off a wall and saw someone had a problem with a TV, fyi, ANY type of screen can be rid of these little pieces of art with a simple trick (computers too) paint over Sharpie with DRY ERASE MARKERS and wipe away with dry cloth, no more sharpir
Mukesh on February 09, 2012:
It was on the writing board that my wife welcomed new year with permanent marker. After trying a range of removers on the board I decided to check on the net and came across this article. I somewhat used a hybrid method... alcohol with ariel washing powder. That is, I wetted a piece of cloth in alcohol and then dipped it in dry washing powder, and with that rubbed clean the surface of the white board. The letterings went away like magic. Thank you all...
Ticked off on January 30, 2012:
But no more after reading this. Alcohol worked great. Thanks so much!
Carla :P on January 21, 2012:
Ok soo my 2 yr old did this this morning. I used hair spray and an sos pad. Spray the hair spray on the marker let it set for about 30 seconds, scrub gently with sos pad and use a wet towel to finish wiping the wall, no damage and black permanent marker is gone!
Anu on December 06, 2011:
Alcohol can also be used to remove permanent marker stains?? That is awesome! I used toothpaste instead and it worked! Anyway thanks for that tip.
Nikki Phillips on November 30, 2011:
The rubbing alcohol technique
works great for permanent marker it does remove the paint though.
mel on November 27, 2011:
thank you the nail polish remover worked great on green permanent marker
Lily on November 26, 2011:
Ever wondered how rubbing alcohol removes sharpie stains?
Pat on November 21, 2011:
Believe it or not sunscreen works. I tried it on my deck for Sharpie marks this past summer and on Sharpie on my wall today...it worked again. I used Neutrogena Sun Block Body Mist that I had from Costco.
MommyandAri on November 18, 2011:
My two-year-old just did this today, except it was a brown permanent marker. I've tried the Magic Erasers when my cousin did the same thing about a year ago; they don't work for permanent markers. I had to combine rubbing alcohol and 100% acetone to get the marker off, at least the gist of it, because it was so concentrated in one area (about half a marker's worth). It was also on the fridge and the floors, but the tile cleaner got those right off. I've just got the stain from the marker smudging on the wall now. Going to try the vinegar idea with a sponge to get it off, alongside the water. Thanks for the tips! I've been wondering how to get permanent marker off the walls since when my cousin did it a year ago, and no one I know seems to know. Thanks so much! :)
daddy house work on November 11, 2011:
Alcohol?? next time i will try this..but now i used hair spray..it works!
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 08, 2011:
That's great news, Ruth! I'm glad the alcohol worked! It must be incredible gratifying to write on the walls with marker as all kids seem to go through the stage!
ruth on November 08, 2011:
My terrific 2 year old scribbled on the wall numerous times with a green marker (a lot) . i was in tears, goggled & found this site, "Alcohol" would never have guessed' run upstairs & grabbed the alcohol & i was able to clean all the writings' the green is all gone' the wall faded alittle' but i'm greatful' thanks.
Mary on October 27, 2011:
Thank you for the information on the alcohol my son had marked all the way down the hall wall and that took it off....thanks a lot..
Denise Wilkins on October 19, 2011:
magic eraser doesn't work on permanent marker drawn onto walls, believe me...I know.
Shauna on October 12, 2011:
Believe it or not my one year old drew everywhere in his bedroom in a trailer I was renting. I just grabbed the three cleaners I had on hand windex, dawn, and pine-sol none of which worked. I dug under the sink and came across a bottle of brasso and figured it never hurts to try. It took it off the door, walls, dresser and his plastic toddler bed with no problem and no damage to the walls either
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on October 12, 2011:
Those sharpies are the worst! We have had many sharpie "accidents"! I'm glad the tips worked!
Victoria on October 12, 2011:
My kids colored one room with sharpie and one with crayola crayons the magic erasers work for crayons but not sharpie thank you for the tip
Toni on September 28, 2011:
My 2 1/2 year old decorated her desk, gave her doll a mustache, wrote in her language on the wall and window. The alcohol and hand sanitizer removed it all except the plastic on the desk. I'm impressed. It worked on the crayon scribble in our foyer and even took the marker out of the cream color rug. It can still be seen faintly on the rug, but I'm a whole lot happier.
robin hines on September 25, 2011:
Thank you so very much ,you saved the wall
Tonia on September 23, 2011:
My two year old just colored my whole bathroom with a perm black sharpie. I justed 91% ALCOHOL AND IT IS GONE. IT IS THE BEST!!!! :)
Kari on September 17, 2011:
Hi I found your page while googling for this very topic.
The best thing I found is baking soda and water. Make a past and scrub the area. I tried several other methods and baking soda and water paste is the only thing that left the walls and doors looking like new again.
Erin on August 15, 2011:
Nail polish remover works wonders.
S.v.L. on August 05, 2011:
I was told by my brother vinegar is as good as rubbing alcohol.
An hour later, the sharpie words are still there.
Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on July 22, 2011:
I'm so sorry, our three year old writes on the walls too. The picture is of our now 5 year old when she was three. Her little sister has taken over her job as wall artist. ;) Sharpie is a tough one. Have you tried a Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean? It doesn't always work with permanent marker but it's worth a try. It's important to get it as soon as it happens so it doesn't set in. Sorry! I know it's frustrating!
April on July 22, 2011:
My kids used a black permanent sharpie and I tried everything including the alcohol and nothing will work, looks like I'm goin' to have to repaint, I have five kids and the two little ones decorated the older kids room, the bathroom includin' the toilet seat, and the livin' room....of course this was not all done in one day, but markers are not allowed in the house anymore....
linny on July 03, 2011:
i just used this method and it worked 99.9%
thank you so much i was about to faint when i saw the living room wall painted with red permanent marker.
Sean on May 29, 2011:
Magic Eraser worked great. Just keep a paper towel underneath. The drip down the wall leaves a mark...
Lisa on May 20, 2011:
OMG!!! My 2 yr old just colored her bedroom wall in a permanent marker....GREEN to be exact. Sadly i was out of everything the day it was done so it has sat in. I am definitely going to try the alcohol and baking soda. Thank u all so much for the advisory tips. My husband and I thought we were going to have to pay for painters.
jess on February 14, 2011:
I have also found that if you use baking soda on a clorox wipe it will remove it without any remnants.
Carrie on February 11, 2011:
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! Just used this tip to remove blue ink from my kitchen wall! works great!!
steve on January 27, 2011:
Thank you Internet
Shygirl on January 03, 2011:
Yahoo.... But sadly I can not blame it on the kids. LOL The Nate show did some coloring on the wall and it looked cool so I decided to and guess what haha?? It looked horrible and I couldn't get it off. My 2 year old walked in and said Mamia you are in trouble your supposed to color paper. LOL Mr clean bleaches it nail polish remover removes the paint and makes it sticky.. Alcohol works wonders, and my Daughter said yay mamia wont be in trouble n e more.
Bradford on December 22, 2010:
Hey guys! Dont know if you figured this problem out already, but I thought I'd let you in on this awesome stuff my friend told me about.. She has 2 ADHD boys and is constantly cleaning up after them.... marker on walls, paint on the floor, ink on the carpet, etc. Anyway, she said her husband worked for a company called "Joe Janitor Supply" and that I had to try out the graffiti remover. It is awesome!! It would be perfect for this problem. I found it online.... go here to see it: http://www.joejanitorsupply.net/graffiti Click one of the buttons on the bottom of the page and there is a video of them using it I think..
Hope this helps!
Jonathan on December 11, 2010:
Surface: Smooth painted closet door (veneer).
Just used nail polish remover and a toothbrush. No remnants at all and no apparent damage to door.
jaetee on November 22, 2010:
The rubbing alcohol and abrasive sponge(kitchen dish sponge) worked great except it either removed a bit of the paint or changed it's color to a lighter color. So just beware. Mine was on a dark red (book binder red) wall to be exact. Test in an inconspicuous area first. But hey the marker is gone. :D
young_dazza on September 29, 2010:
Thanks for all the tips!
We found that Acetone (nail polish remover) was pretty good on the wall but it slightly removed some of the paint. However acetone didn't work on the door which is painted with an oil-based glossy paint.
Vinegar didn't work at all, neither did WD-40.
Baby wipes helped on the walls and helped a bit on the door.
Erasers also helped.
Its not perfect but I have run out of energy for now. I might try some more suggestions again later.
April on June 25, 2010:
They now have dry-erase paint and chalkboard paint for your walls for budding artists :)
Linz on June 23, 2010:
Ok, my daughter decided to draw on the carpet, wall cabnet, subwoofer, tv plasma stand, tv unit and lounge door with black permanent marker. I got the marker off the cabnet using acetone. It wiped it straight off the glass and the timber no problem. did not damage the timber. The carpet and the tv and sub was a different story. I used hand sanitizer (the alcohol one) with a toothbrush on the carpet and with a soft cloth on the tv stand and sub and came off a treat without damaging the two-pac finish. The lounge door was not varnished so i think i'm gonna have to sand that out. Anyway try acetone (somewhere discreet first) and hand sanatizer... they work wonders.
Tom T from Orange County, CA on May 16, 2010:
HA! One of those things you'd only need to know if you had kids! I remember when I was a kid, my mom let my brothers and I go hog wild marking up a wall in our bathroom with markers because she was going to wallpaper anyway. Well long story short, after a few hot steamy showers the maker bleed through the wallpaper. OOPS! Thanks for the hub.
Narelle on April 27, 2010:
My toddler coloured our wall in black nikko pen. I tried everything and couldn't get it off. I just tried the rubbing alcohol tip and it came right off. I don't have to repaint yeah.
Hannah on April 17, 2010:
Tried baking soda and warm water...no improvement,
tried alcohol...no improvement,
finally tried nail varnish remover and...all of the black permanent marker pen that my 2 year old had used to "decorate" our lounge walls has now been removed! Hooray!
mindy on April 14, 2010:
first i tried magic eraser. didn't work. then i tried alcohol and the paint started coming off the wall. tried comet and didn't work. guess i will try to find what color i used and repaint. UGH!!!
newman on April 01, 2010:
use Mr. Clean magic eraser with alcohol!! works great!!
Paint Removal Oxfordshire on February 20, 2010:
Thanks for this information, recently had a phone call about this and wasn't really sure what to do.
linda a on February 10, 2010:
This is a good tip, but if you want to remove permanent marker of any type or color from your wall, there is actually an even more efficent and effective way! Baking soda and warm water are my miracle worker!!! Make a paste and apply it with a towel...you will find you have much less rubbing to do this way, only a few circular motions and the marks vanish. After the marks have gone and you are left with a tinted residue, just take a wet sponge and swipe over it to remove the rest of the paste. This will remove ALL of the marking and color, so even white walls will look as white as before your little artist came along!! (This also works amazingly well with crayon marks too)
momof5monsters on January 28, 2010:
My teenagers took sharpie and wrote messages and poems all over their walls what is best to paint over that with now that they are tired of looking at the mess
Vizey on September 09, 2009:
Nice advice for removing stains from walls. I would certainly follow your advice.
temp on August 02, 2009:
If you have some Jif, it works wonders! I had a black Sharpie mark on a wall, and within seconds of light scrubbing with the Jif it is all gone and I can't even see where it once was.
We have Jif in Australia, but if you don't have it, it is simply a mild abrasive cream cleaner.
Joanna & Patience on July 12, 2009:
Hey our 3 and 1/2 year old Autistic son woke up this morning thinking ok .. mommy's i made you a little something in the kitchen... OMG i about died our new wood cabnets and the draws and the newly laid linoleum and our newly installed stove......omg if i haddnt caught my Breath i'd have Fainted... i mean he didn't just draw -draw he scribbled made circles and dot,dot,dot made lines up and down and then drew lines back to the circles ... i took was very upset, but sense we tried the alcohol it fadded ,but jus a little ...but the cabnets are great .. and the stove and linoleum is still back... i HATE SHARPIES there going in the TRASH..lol so with a time -out and no Morning Sponge bob cartoons he learned that house painting is a Huge NO-NO i think he got this idea cause Patience one day put up a white paper and let him draw on it while on the wall... so maybe he thinks its ok...Thanks guys ..
ThePartyAnimal on July 12, 2009:
Great Tip - I use the magic erasers - I really swear they are magic - I use them for so many things.
Amitty on June 18, 2009:
My daughter colored on the wall with a BIC Mark IT this morning. I tried your idea of the rubbing alcohol idea and it worked. It took of some of the paint and made it a little sticky for a few minutes but it took the marker right off. Thank you for your help.
Mrs. Harridan on June 06, 2009:
I saw the comment about the Melaleuca stain remover and how it contains tea tree oil. My kid just Sharpied our newly-laid linoleum floor, and tea tree oil did the trick (rubbing alcohol faded it a little, but not much).
LucRy on May 19, 2009:
Thanks for the tips. It may come in handy one day. I have two young boys!
aaron on May 09, 2009:
my 3 yr old colored on her bedroom walls with a purple marker that was not washable and im renting my house... had no clue what to do. googled and got this page i used the alcohol method and some paint came off but not enough to notice. thank you so much i just saved a fortune!
Tim and Sue on April 30, 2009:
Our triplet girls, 5 years in May 2009, would sometimes write on inappropriate surfaces when 2 and 3 years old, and still occasionally on themselves. The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser worked well on the kitchen cabinets (white linoleum), and usually on the walls. I've found that baby wipes work well on skin and also on walls. Once they understood what we told them about how wall art would disappear, but art on paper wouldn't, with the 2 to 3 minute timeout chair now and then, they pretty much stopped the wall and cabinet art.
Marilyn Guy on April 19, 2009:
I have to say that, I was desparate to remove black permanent magic marker from a wall in my hallway after my ex-husband visited with me and my new husband one night and decided to do his artwork on our walls.
I used the alcohol method and it was doing pretty well except I decided to apply it to self adhesive sanitary napkins since they absorb more and unlike the sponge method they do not allow you to lose the alcohol. I just removed the strip on the back of the napkin and folded it so that both adhesive parts touched. I then applied the alcohol and began to scrub till the stain was completely removed. Some of the paint came off but, not so much that you would really notice. If, it doesn't come off completely at first keep at it. I assure you it will come off with some work.
Susan on March 04, 2009:
I feel so lucky to have found this! It worked great on my 4 year old's "artwork." Thank you!!!
Brandi on March 03, 2009:
Alcohol cleans from skin just make sure there arent any owies that might come into contact..it will burn
Brandi on March 03, 2009:
Latex paint cleans lots better than regular.
Ashly on February 23, 2009:
OMG I thought I was going to have to live with bright red Sharpie on my walls forever!! Thanks so much!! I have so much ink on my walls I ran out of alcohol...thank goodness it's so cheap! I have a 4 and a 5 year old....I'm stocking up!! lol.
Peppermint Thrift on February 22, 2009:
Thank you for the tip! Does rubbing alcohol work if a child writes on themselves with permanent marker as well? I once had a student come up to me after class with marker all over his arms and asked, "What is a Sharpie?" I answered, "Well, a Sharpie is a permanent marker, my friend, and your mother is going to kill you." Hopefully, I can pass this info on if it works on skin as well, it might help my junior high kids stay out of getting grounded...
Dee on February 21, 2009:
I tried your idea of the rubbing alcohol lo and behold it worked great!! No left over marks although this was a sharpie black permanent marker. Thanks for the help!!
Jamie on February 16, 2009:
This worked great!
Perfect for 2 batchlors who get drunk and draw on the hallways of the appartment, and even themselves....you probably saved us from being kicked out! whew!
earnestshub from Melbourne Australia on January 23, 2009:
Thanks for the tips. My darling twin granddaughters have just finished "decorating" the couch with the able assistance of SuperSpiderMan who is four.
It looks like a good job. No less than 3 types of indelible ink pens were used.
I may have to try all the tips!
Lgali on January 21, 2009:
Nice hubs-Thanks for sharing this tip
Clara Ghomes on January 20, 2009:
Nice! Thanks for sharing this tip :-)
Brooklyn on January 05, 2009:
Okay so the rubbing alcohol works on the painted walls..lil bit of paint came off couldn't get it off bookshelve or plastic..gosh i'm so angry about it period..but looks 90% better.
carla on January 04, 2009:
hello there my nanny use to always give me home remidie ideas for things that my kids my try in life and this just so happens to be one of them lol... PEANUT BUTTER is how to get this off any kind of paint it takes alittle rubbing but it comes of no problem just a little dab on a cloth and rub the spot and wahla is gone.. hope this helps as it helped me a lot lol
Busysonbusymom on December 19, 2008:
This tip worked great! My 4 year old decided to write the letter T on the wall and a rainbow using a Sharpie about 4 months ago. Nothing worked. He recently expanded on his artwork and I found this tip. This method removed the new and the OLD!!! Thank you for sharing!!!
melinda on November 14, 2008:
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! it worked great my 2 year old had fun with a black perment maker on my walls and dresser,i tryed every thing and nothing worked till i tried this. i even tried peanut butter i was told about that just makes a mess LOL!!! thanks agin.