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How to Remove Permanent Marker From a Painted Wall

Robin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has three children and loves to share her tips and tricks for staying organized.

Read on to learn how to remove permanent marker from walls, including sketch pens and sharpies.

Read on to learn how to remove permanent marker from walls, including sketch pens and sharpies.

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
  • Washcloth
  • Bowl
  • Water
  • Sponge with an abrasive side
Red Sharpie that was used to write on our white walls.

Red Sharpie that was used to write on our white walls.

The rubbing alcohol we used to remove the red marker on our white wall.

The rubbing alcohol we used to remove the red marker on our white wall.

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.

Cleaning!  Here we go.

Cleaning! Here we go.

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.

Sponge and rubbing alcohol in a Pyrex dish.

Sponge and rubbing alcohol in a Pyrex dish.

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.

After our first application.

After our first application.

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!

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Read More From Dengarden

These are great cleaners, but they're not great for removing marker.

These are great cleaners, but they're not great for removing marker.

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: