How to Remove Permanent Marker from a Whiteboard | 2 Simple Methods

It’s happened to the best of us. You decide to write out your to-do list on the whiteboard at work. You panic when you realize you’ve grabbed permanent markers by mistake.

If you’re wondering how to remove permanent marker from whiteboard you’re not alone. The forecast calls for even more to be searching for it in the future. People want to know how to fix it.

I want to solve this question once and for all. Here I will teach you how to get marker off from whiteboard surfaces for good.

Remove Permanent Marker from Whiteboard

If you find yourself stuck with a ruined whiteboard never fear! I have got you covered and can get you back to a bright, shiny, whiteboard in no time.

There are two popular methods for removing permanent whiteboard marker mistakes. The good news? They both use stuff you already have in your office. First, I go over the dry-erase marker solution.

1. Remove Marker with Another Marker on Whiteboard

Remove Marker with Another Marker

Image Source: ​

You heard us right. What is the easiest way to remove permanent marker from a whiteboard? Use another marker. No, not another permanent marker. Use a dry-erase marker. Here’s what you need:

  • Dry Erase Marker
  • Whiteboard Eraser
  • Spray Bottle Filled With Water
  • Paper Towels/ Clean Microfiber Cloth

First, stop writing with the permanent marker as soon as you realize your critical error. The sooner you address the situation the better it is for the health of the whiteboard.

Find a dry erase marker the same color as the permanent marker you’ve used. Trace over the writing with the dry erase marker making sure to cover all the writing. 

Use the whiteboard eraser to erase all the writing. This method should take off the majority of the writing. Have stubborn bits that didn’t come up? Scribble over them with the dry erase marker and erase again.

Now, spray down the whiteboard with small amount of water and give it a good wipe with paper towels or a soft microfiber cloth.

2. Alcohol Method: Remove Whiteboard Marker with Alcohol

Remove Whiteboard Marker

​Image Source: WikiHow

But, what if you wrote the whiteboard and didn’t know you used permanent marker right away. You didn’t have to use the board until your presentation in the afternoon. You’ve impressed your colleagues but can’t erase the board.

You could still try the marker on marker trick but, chances are that it’s not going to do an amazing job. There’s going to still be tracings and ghosting of the writing that was there.

A better method for removing permanent marker stain is the alcohol method. No, you’re not going to use vodka on the whiteboard. Here’s what you need for this trick:

  • Rubbing Alcohol or Plain Hand Sanitizer
  • Paper Towels or A Soft Cloth
  • Spray Bottle Filled With Water

I like to use paper towels for this method but if you only have a cloth that will do. Be prepared to throw out the cloth you use though. You’re going to have permanent marker stains all over it.

Take your paper towels and pour a good amount of rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer onto the towel.

Start wiping down the board. You may need to continue to apply sanitizer or alcohol to get the marks off. But you can’t use too much of the cleaning solution. You want to be liberal here to do your best work.

The alcohol should break down the permanent marker. Once you’re satisfied with the lift, take a clean towel and wipe down the board.

Using your spray bottle, spray the board down with water and wipe dry again. You may still have a faint haze of color. Let the board dry and use ​whiteboard eraser.

Repeat the process until your board comes out clean after erasing. Great! Now you have a glistening, like-new whiteboard. Your colleagues will never know about your mishap. You can also use isopropyl alcohol if you don’t have rubbing alcohol in hands.

This technique works for more than permanent marker mistakes. You can use this one anytime the whiteboard starts to look dingy. But, every time you do this you can take away a bit of the protective layer of the whiteboard.

For regular maintenance, a better idea is to use an actual whiteboard spray cleaner. The whiteboard cleaner will clean the board without removing the whiteboard’s finish. This will make your whiteboard last longer and make it easier to erase after use. 

Another great tip is to keep your erasers clean. Brush the eraser with a baby brush to get the marker gunk off.

Did these methods not work for you? No way! If you didn’t have success with these methods, contact us ​and we can give you some more advice.

The Science Behind These Removal Methods

The secret to these methods? They are actually the same thing.

A dry erase marker contains three elements. Colored pigments, a release agent or polymer, and….can you guess? A chemical solvent, which is a fancy term for, yep you were right, alcohol.

Permanent markers contain an acrylic polymer that helps the ink stick to surfaces. To break down a polymer, you need a chemical solvent. Voila, dry erase markers erase permanent markers. 

The slick surface of the whiteboard won’t absorb ink. This makes alcohol more effective at removal. Ah, science. The thing that lets you erase one marker removes another marker. The chemical reaction between the two cancels the other out.


Q: How do I get permanent marker off of a whiteboard with no smears?

Other than the methods mentioned above, Ethanol works excellent for this purpose. It’ll help you to remove the permanent marks without smearing.

Spray the solvent all over the ink stains and wait a few seconds until you see the permanent ink is dissolving. And then wipe the marks off using a paper towel or clean cloth. If the ink doesn’t go away entirely with the first attempt, repeat the process. 

Q: What removes Sharpie from dry erase boards?

There may have too many ways or tools that remove Sharpie from dry erase boards. But in this article, I have mentioned some popular ingredients to erase those Sharpie stains. They are dry erase markers, rubbing alcohol, and hand sanitizer. Each of them is alcohol-based.

So, when you use these chemical solvents on the permanent ink, they help break down the acrylic polymer in ink. And that’s why these methods work so well on such tough stains.

Q: Does rubbing alcohol damage whiteboards?

I have already mentioned using rubbing alcohol on the whiteboard to remove the permanent marker ink. It really works great in removing tough stains. But don’t forget that excess of anything is bad. Since rubbing alcohol is a chemical solvent, you shouldn’t also use it more than necessary.

So, use rubbing alcohol on the whiteboard wisely. Otherwise, it may damage the surface. Only then you can get your whiteboard as before. 

Q: Can you use Windex to clean a dry erase board?

Though Windex is labeled as glass and plastic surface cleaner, but it works as an all-purpose cleaner. Think of a surface you can’t use for cleaning. In that way, you can also use it for cleaning the dry erase boards. Just spray a little over the board and wipe it with a clean cloth. You’ll get a sprinkling board in no time.

So, nothing to worry about using it on whiteboard surfaces. But remember not to use any harsh or abrasive cleaners on boards, as it can damage the surface.

Q: How do I get old eraser marks off a whiteboard completely?

Suppose you always use whiteboard eraser to clean the dry erase marks. In that case, hopefully, there will be no such stains as eraser or marker marks. Still, if you face such a problem, you can use any glass cleaning products and wipe them away with soft clean cloths.

The Right Supplies Makes All The Difference!

Now you know how to solve the permanent marker puzzle. I gave you two methods on how to remove permanent marker from a whiteboard.  But, I also want to help you avoid these sort of emergency situations.

Make sure you keep your dry erase markers organized away from any other type of marker. Create space around the board to keep them safe and separate. I recommend using an organizer basket that clips to the board itself so no one moves it.

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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