How to Get Permanent Marker Off of Plastic | Easiest Ways

Having a sharpie marker is essential in any household or office space. If you’re a crafty soul who likes to indulge in DIY art projects or a neat freak who wants to label plastic containers, you’ll find that a permanent marker is your best friend.

The simplistic and straightforward approach to using permanent markers is what makes it so popular. But leaving an unwanted scribble, especially on plastic surfaces, can cause some headaches. Although the name suggests so, markings left by permanent markers are not explicitly permanent!

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic

In this article, we bring some of the most versatile options on how to get permanent marker off of plastic. Some of them might be pretty unconventional. But rest assured that they are effective, nonetheless. Just try it out, and you’ll be amazed!

Methods to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic

In the battle between you and that nasty unwanted scribble from a permanent marker, know that the ball is always in your court. Although commercialized as containing non-removable ink, some easy hacks erase permanent marker from plastic surfaces. Here are a few of the most common methods:

1. With Another Marker

This is, in fact, one of the most counterintuitive ways to remove permanent marker stains from any plastic body. It involves using another marker over the stain you want to remove.

Simply draw over the area that you want to clean using a dry erase marker with dark-colored ink. Make sure to completely cover the entire scribble with an even distribution of sharpie ink over the smooth plastic surface.

Next, wipe over the surface with a clean washcloth or rag while the ink is still slightly wet. Apply slight pressure while moving your hands up and down over the area. This should roughly remove any possible traces of the previous marker stain along with the newly scribbled ink.

The formulation of dry erase marker ink is such that it eats through the ink of the permanent marker. Here, the nib of the marker has fine bristles that act like a tiny scrubber to help remove previous markings.

If the plastic surface is slightly textured or not completely smooth, you might see some focal stains left even after the rubbing. Then repeat the same process over the residual dots and scribbles. This way, your plastic surface will be good as new in no time. You can reuse the surface to make new designs or write down a new label.

2. Using Rubbing Alcohol

Remove Whiteboard Marker

Although branded as a sanitizer and powerful antiseptic solution, rubbing alcohol is equally effective in dissolving permanent marker stains. The chemical formulation of the liquid contains acetone that works equally well in removing marker residues just as much as it helps destroy germs.

In some cases, it’s even more potent than the commercial expensive cleaning liquids sold on the market.

For the most effective result, spray an adequate amount of the rubbing alcohol solution all over the stain you want to remove. Let it soak up the marker ink for a few seconds until it evenly spread across the curved surface. Then gently wipe across the plastic surface with a soft piece of fabric, cotton ball, or paper towel.

This should remove any traces of permanent marker residuals.

As a bonus, you can deploy this process to sanitize the surface and repurpose it for other uses simultaneously. Rubbing alcohol is also suitable for scraping up adhesive residue and getting rid of nasty kitchen grease.

3. Regular Toothpaste with Baking Soda

Toothpaste with Baking Soda

This method is quite controversial but results in miraculous outcomes sometimes. So, you can give it a fair shot. Just remember to be extra careful with the proportions and application techniques.

Mix one-part baking soda with one-part white toothpaste in a bowl or cup using a fork until you get a thick jelly-like texture. Avoid using gel toothpaste since they are generally less abrasive.

Using a white or slightly mint toothpaste will create a more robust reaction with the baking soda, creating a more effective ink removal compound marker stain.

The amount of both baking soda and toothpaste depends on the size of the stain. If you see that the stain is not large enough and can be covered with your thumb, use a pea-amount of both ingredients.

If the stain is more extensive, gradually increase the amount to a teaspoon or tablespoon. However, remember to adhere to the 1:1 proportion strictly.

Then scoop up the jelly using a spoon and evenly apply it over the stain on the plastic surface. As a rule of thumb, keep applying until the stain is entirely out of sight and you can’t trace it even through the jelly.

Use an old toothbrush to gently scrub the jelly over the stain. Wait a few minutes to let it take action. If you have a textured surface, make sure that the jelly reaches all the nooks and crannies. Don’t scrub with excessive pressure, as it might end up damaging the plastic surface for good.

Finally, rinse the surface with running tap water in the sink. Get rid of any residual baking soda jelly, and the stain should be gone like magic!

4. Using Magic Eraser Sponge

Magic Eraser

A magic eraser sponge is a specialized cleaning gear that is formulated to precisely remove marker ink. They are primarily available in hardware stores and sometimes in grocery stores too. There are numerous variants of magic eraser sponges. Choose one that is shaped like a white brick and contains no additives.

It would be best to cut off a piece from the sponge brick before using it to remove the ink. That way, you can handle it with more precision, and it will be economical as well.

Simply immerse the cut portion of the sponge in some water or rubbing alcohol to activate the chemical compound inside it. Rub the sponge over the plastic surface in a circular motion and apply slight pressure. Continue scrubbing gently until all of the ink marks are completely gone.

Read Also: Do Magic Eraser Remove Marker Ink

The process usually takes around five to ten minutes to reach a satisfactory result.

5. Using Hydrogen Peroxide

You can get a hold of hydrogen peroxide from any regular pharmacy or drug store. Just browse the first-aid section or ask for the variant that comes in a black bottle. Also, get some cotton balls from the same store.

To get on with this (hydrogen peroxide) method, soak a cotton ball with some of the liquid from the bottle. Gently wipe the wet cotton ball over the stained surface on any plastic body. This should remove any light stains quite easily.

However, if the mark left by the permanent marker is rather old and stubborn, directly pour hydrogen peroxide over the stained area. Use a paper towel or washcloth to wipe it away after a few seconds. Repeat the process multiple times if necessary.

Other Household Products for Cleaning Marker Stain

Now that you know about the rather formal processes- let’s get down to some of the more home-brewed methods that have been proven effective through time and experience. Most of these methods are basically speculations and might not even work out in your case.

Nonetheless, there is no harm in trying. All these methods can be done using materials and ingredients you simply have lying around your kitchen or bedroom. Let’s check them out:

1. Baking Soda with White Vinegar

Baking Soda with White Vinegar

This is yet another tried and tested mechanism for marker stain removal. But then again, it has many drawbacks. Try it with caution.

Lightly drizzle some baking soda over the area where there is a stain on the plastic surface. Gently pour a tiny amount of white vinegar over the baking soda powder so that it stays within the circumference. Don’t run too much so that it does not overflow outside the powder-covered area.

Let the mixture sit for a while until it creates a nice foamy texture. Then simply wipe off the ingredients using a paper towel or clean washcloth and watch the ink disappear.

2. Using Pencil Eraser

Whip out your trusty old buddy, the pencil eraser, from your stationery supplies. Vigorously rub the eraser over the stain until it is removed. Sometimes, enough friction from a good-quality eraser might just be able to scrub out the marker ink for good.

3. Using Hairspray

Similar to the way rubbing alcohol works on stains, hair spray does the magic too. But this is true only in the case of lighter and less-prevalent colors.

Simply spray over the stained area and wipe off with a clean paper towel or washcloth. The marker ink should get dissolved and disappear soon enough.

4. Nail Polish Remover

Nail Polish RemoverThat little bottle of nail polish remover sitting inside every girl’s makeup kit can actually work wonders when it comes to getting marker ink off of plastic surfaces. The chemical formulation has minimal amounts of acetone in it and can work following the same principle as rubbing alcohol.

Gently pour a few drops of the nail polish remover over the stain on any plastic surface. Then use a damp washcloth or paper towel to soak up the excess liquid. Keep tapping gently over the stained area until all of the liquid is soaked up, and the marker stain has also vanished along with it.

Some Factors Keep in Mind

Removing a permanent marker stain can be pretty straightforward, but there are certain hazards to the methods as well. Especially when you use chemical formulations, be careful not to exceed the safety limit.

  • To keep your plastic surface intact, try applying the chemical formulation like acetone on a very minimal concentration on an inconspicuous area before attempting to rub over the ink. If you see that the plastic surface loses color or gets distorted, switch to a lower concentration.
  • In the case of rubbing alcohol, a higher concentration generally means more potential to remove stains. But beware not to get a formula that is too concentrated. As a rule of thumb, get something around a 90% grading.
  • A safer option is to avoid chemicals all in all and switch to more homestead methods like the dry-erase marker. Nail polish removers are good, too, since they are non-toxic and non-irritant to the skin.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


Q: Do I remove marker from whiteboard using these process?

In theory, yes! the same processes as mentioned above should work equally well for both whiteboards and plastic surfaces. Most home-brewed methods like hairspray, nail polish remover, etc., should be potent enough to remove a permanent marker from a whiteboard.

However, whiteboards surfaces are not always made of plastic. Sometimes they contain melamine or some other reflective material on the surface. In that case, take caution in using any chemicals that may damage the whiteboard.

Especially the reactive chemicals such as the baking soda method, hydrogen peroxide, and magic eraser sponge might not bode well with whiteboards made out of materials other than plastic.

Otherwise, the process and methods for cleaning whiteboards are more or less the same as that of wiping out a marker from plastic surfaces. The most commonly used technique is the dry-erase marker method discussed at the beginning of this article.

Read More: How to Remove Marker from Whiteboard

Q: Which one is the easiest method to remove a plastic stain?

While there is no standardized method to carry out the removal of permanent marker ink from plastic surfaces, there are some processes that are most commonly used. Each different type of surface works best with a specific technique.

In the case of plastic surfaces, one of the most popular and widely accepted methods of removing marker stains is by using ‘toothpaste with baking soda or lemon juice’.

This method, albeit a bit hazardous if handled without caution, can be the most effective yet easy one. Just keep the proportions of the ingredients under strict measurements and take necessary precautions before handling the baking soda jelly.

You should see that the method works like magic and is as simple as one, two, three!

As an added step, you can use hand gloves while handling the baking soda jelly so that it does not come in contact with your skin. Also, remember to use only white or mint-colored toothpaste for maximum effect. Gel-based toothpaste formulations won’t be of much use in this method.

Final Thoughts

Whether it’s a mistake while labeling a plastic container or simply an accidental stroke while writing with a marker, having a stain from a permanent marker on any unwanted surface can be an eyesore. But now you know that all permanent marker ink is not necessarily permanent!

You can easily remove marker from plastic surfaces using designated methods. Some very innovative home-brewed methods are somewhat effective in most cases.

Our compilation to get permanent marker stain off plastic should be comprehensive enough to let you know about the numerous ways of removing such ink.

Just don’t forget to take necessary precautions and adhere to specific guidelines when using slightly hazardous chemicals. Always remember – safety first!

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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