How to Remove Permanent Marker

When I’m out sourcing stuff for my vintage shop, Mac’s Attic, at estate sales, flea markets, or thrift stores I often find great items with permanent marker on them. Some stores even write the price ON the item with permanent marker (so annoying and stupid).


I recently stumbled on a really cool vintage pipe display. Unfortunately, there were several permanent marker spots on the rack. The vintage rack had the original price as part of the display rack and ofcourse, with time, the price of the pipes increased, so whomever used the spinning rack kept writing the new price of pipes with a permanent marker. I didn’t want people thinking that’s what I paid, and the blemishes negatively affect the value anyway.


Just because it’s permanent marker, doesn’t mean it’s permanent. If the marker is on metal or plastic, I have a method that works every time. It involves gathering supplies from your bathroom!


Using hairspray and nail polish remover, you can easily remove permanent marker. I always start with hair spray because it’s less abrasive. Sometimes the hairspray just significantly fades the marker, but with a wipe of polish remover, it totally cleans it. I spray the hair spray directly at the marker (just a couple inches away) & then use a cotton ball to wipe away.


Within a couple minutes, the permanent marker was totally gone. I did try the nail polish remover on the brown part of the rack, and it was too abrasive. It was removing part of the brown as well (luckily, I noticed it quickly and it just looks slightly worn like the rest of the rack). So I just used hairspray for the remaining parts of the brown sections.

I haven’t tried this method on clothes. What method do you use to get permanent marker out of clothes?


6 thoughts on “How to Remove Permanent Marker

  1. I purchased a thrifted american girl doll for my gdaughter with lipstic, marker ? on face & hands,tried everything to remove to no avail. can this be removed ? thanks love your posts.

    1. Have you tried hairspray? I’d start with hairspray and see if that does the trick before using nail polish remover. Someone else also commented that WD40 also helps!

    2. Toothpaste….
      Rub the toothpaste in round circle …As it dry you will see the marker color go from the item to the cloth.
      Works great on wood items.
      I bought a business desk for less than 100 dollars
      Good luck

  2. I read a blog where you can use sun screen. I know it sounds impossible, but it actually works. You just smear a little dab over the area. Let it sit for 20 min and then rub with a cloth or paper towel. For clothing I use the hairspray as long as it has not been washed or dried yet.

  3. I have found Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to work well also, I have used it on moulding and trim as well as walls and doors, you have to be super careful not to damage the surface, but it seems to take it up with just water or a little dish soap and water.

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