How to Fix a Dry Highlighter Pen Work Again

Highlighter markers are a very important tool in our daily life. Whether you are a student, teacher, or anyone trying to remark on important things while reading books or documents, it’s essential.

Though they are not so expensive, it can still be frustrating if you run out of ink in the mid of highlighting any important text. But if you don’t want to throw away your favorite highlighter pen, you can try some methods to revive it.

You can fix the highlighter pen or marker with the help of water, rubbing alcohol, or nail polish remover. In fact, you can also change the ink color if you want with the help of these amazing methods.

In today’s article, I will show how to revive highlighter pen to enjoy its efficiency a bit longer. So, keep reading, and you’ll find some effective methods to fix your dead highlighter.

How to Fix a Dry Highlighter Pen
How to Fix a Dry Highlighter Pen | Step by Step Process

What’s Inside a Highlighter Pen?

When it comes to highlighter markers, the word “Fluorescent” is very common. Since most of these pens contain “fluorescein” in ink, they provide us a neon hue. That’s why the ink becomes so bright than other markers ink. This is an organic solvent and water-soluble.

The most common ingredients found inside a highlighter marker are Fluorescein, Pyranine, Triphenylmethane, Rhodamine, Xanthene, and Coumarin. But the ingredients of the marker may vary depending on the ink type or color. [sourcce]

And the tip of these highlighter pens is made of polyethylene which is very lightweight also.


As the uses of highlighter markers are increasing, so many top-quality brands of marker have started producing highlighter pens. But it doesn’t mean that the highlighter cannot malfunction. Most of the time, it happens if the ink clogged inside or if you keep the cap off carelessly for a long time.

However, you can try the easy methods below to revive highlighter pens before throwing them into the trash bin. Remember that it may not work for every brand, but you should try it at least once.

Things You’ll Need

Below I’ve given a few things you need to fix dried-out highlighter pen.

  • Scissor/Knife
  • Small Glass/Bowl
  • Warm Water
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Tissue Paper/Paper Towel
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Cotton Ball
  • Syringe/Drops
  • Inkjet Printer Ink

Ways to Reviving Highlighter Pens

Many people may want to revive the old highlighter and use it again. But they might not know how to do that. It is actually very easy.

However, there are some easy ways that you need to follow to make your highlighter pen work as before. Here we mentioned few methods which will help you fix dried out markers.

After Fixing a Dry Highlighter Pen

Method 1 – Using Water

Step 1: This is the quicker solution among all. Firstly, you have to check is there any ink left in the marker or not. So, shake it 2-3 times and write on a paper piece.

If you can write any words with it, you can move to the next step even if it becomes unclear or broken. Otherwise, if there is no ink left inside it, you have to buy a new one probably.

Step 2: You have to open up the highlighter pen to get the ink tube out of the plastic body in this step. For this, you can use a knife or scissor whatever you found near hand.

But be careful enough as these tools are very sharp. You can open the marker both from the front or back, depending on the marker model. Then remove the ink sponge.

Step 3: Now fill the bowl with water. If you want, you can use slightly warm water. But you have to be careful and not use hot water. It can damage the ink for good.

Then put one side of the ink sponge inside the water and wait for a few minutes till it becomes soft enough to be squeezed out in your hands.

In the same way, put the other side in the water and wait. You’ll see that the sponge is immediately squeezing the water like water-based markers.

Step 4: Lastly, take some tissue paper or paper towel and put the ink sponge on it. It’ll help to gently squeeze the excess water from the sponge and make it ready to use.

Then take a piece of paper and start writing. Hopefully, you will get your highlighter marker working as new as before. 

Method 2 – Vinegar Solution

You should know that vinegar not only works for permanent markers but neon highlighter markers also. This is very easy to fix a highlighter pen following this method.

Firstly, fill a small glass with the white vinegar solution (equal parts of distilled white vinegar and warm water).

Now, dip the dried-out tip of your highlighter into this solution for about one minute. The acid from the cleaner solution replaces dryness inside your highlighter marker and restores its original color.

After you are done, wipe off any liquid that remains onto a paper towel or disposable rag. Now, your marker is ready to use. Keep in mind that it’s a temporary solution.

Method 3 – Using Alcohol

Step 1: In this method, to revive a highlighter pen doesn’t require any special equipment but involves a little alcohol. It works in the same way you restore a dried-out marker.

Firstly, you will need to pour a small amount of rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol in a bottle cap or small bowl.

Step 2: Then dip the dry marker tip into the solvent and wait for a few seconds. After that, take the marker from the solution and remove excess liquid from the tip. Then hold it upside down. It’ll help to soak the alcohol through the ink pad.

Step 3: Now put the marker cap on and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes. It’ll help the marker absorb the alcohol properly and prepare it for writing.

Step 4: In this step, take a piece of paper and start writing. And if you don’t get your expected result, repeat the process a couple of times.

However, you can also use acetone-based nail polish remover if you don’t find rubbing alcohol at hand. It works similarly to alcohol.

And in this case, you have to follow the same process of using rubbing alcohol as mentioned above. Interestingly, you can also revive dry erase markers using acetone.

How to Change Your Highlighter Pen Color?

Changing highlighter pen color is really easy, and it won’t take too much time. You have to be careful with the ink spilling on your clothes or desk at work. You can do it only by refilling the ink sponge with another color.

But the process is easy than refilling Copic Markers! For this you need to follow some steps mentioned below-

Step 1: First of all, take some plain water in a small glass-like before. You shouldn’t take warm water here as you will put your desired color ink into the water.

Step 2: Now take the bottle of the color you want to mix with the present highlighter color. But I will suggest you take the inkjet printer ink of blue color. Mixing blue color with the yellow neon one will give a green color.

Step 3: Using a syringe or drop, pull out some ink from the bottle and put only a few drops into the glass with water. Now mix it properly.

Step 4: Now, remove the cap from your highlighter marker and carefully open up the marker as before so there will not be any accidents. Then pull out the ink sponge and pour it inside the new color mixture. After putting it into the ink, you’ll see that it absorbs the ink immediately.

Step 5: In the last step, when you’ll see that the ink pad is thoroughly soaked with blue ink, remove it out. Using a paper towel, remove excess water and color. Then set up the highlighter pen as before. Now, cap on the marker and let it sit for some time.

After that, test to write on a paper, and you’ll see that blueish ink is getting out from the highlighter marker.

Now, enjoy highlighting again!


Q: Why Do Highlighter Markers Dry Out?

Whether you use high-quality highlighter markers or cheap ones, you’ll eventually face the dry-out problem. There can be many reasons for this – too much usage, the marker was left open or unused for a long time, and it is possible that you dropped it badly.

Sometimes also the ink clogged inside or pen tip that causes writing problems. Even if they claim to be non-toxic, highlighters may still contain solvents that could evaporate over time.

However, if there is still some ink left in the ink sponge, you can revive it and write with it as before by following the method mentioned above.

Q: How Long Does Highlighter Pen Last?

The simple answer is, “It Depends!”

Highlighter pens can last anywhere from a few months to years after years, depending on the frequency of use and how well they are cared for.

It also depends on the volume of ink that a highlighter marker contains. On average, highlighter markers ink pad contains 10ml ink, which will allow you to highlight around 50,000 words. The figure seems big!

But if you are a continuous reader and highlight 1000 words per day, you can use a highlighter pen for up to 50 days.

A Word of Caution

The chemical reaction of the vinegar solution with the ink on the highlighter marker can also produce a little bit of heat and some fumes.

So, it might be better to do this in a well-ventilated area for the best results. However, if you pick acetone, it is also recommended to use it in the well-ventilated area as it produces fumes also.

And acetone can be harmful to the main plastic body. So, if you choose acetone, make sure to use it on the highlighter marker tip only. You can also use kerosene or mineral spirits alternative to acetone.

Final Thoughts

Your highlighter marker can keep on working for years with this method. Save money from buying a new one every time your highlighter stopped working!

These are just some tips that I found useful whenever my old markers started running low on their ink supply. It is always better to know how to do something rather than throwing away good stuff because we couldn’t find a solution to revive it.

Now you can enjoy your newly revived highlighter!

Maria Tanish

Hello World! Tanish here, a student of Fine Arts. Drawing was my passion from an early age but I also love to do some DIY projects to spend my leisure. Even I work as a writer, to share my knowledge about the ins and outs of drawing and the art industry itself. As an artist, I always wanna share my experiences with you all.

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