How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic

How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic – An Easy Guide

Making use of a permanent marker can be a hazardous task, as it is very easy to accidentally mark surfaces like plastic. If you have small children, a permanent marker can easily fall into their hands, which can be disastrous. Just because the marker is permanent does not mean that your plastic item needs to be thrown away, or that you will have a permanent mark. Having the knowledge of how to remove permanent marker from plastic can be helpful. So, in the below article, you can easily find out how to get permanent marker off plastic.



Understanding Permanent Marker Stains on Plastic 

When you use a permanent marker on a plastic surface, it does not necessarily mean that you are left with a permanent stain as there are numerous methods you can use to clean it off. However, like many other stains, the sooner it is done, the better. This is because time, exposure to weather, and temperature can result in the stain becoming extremely difficult to remove. Another factor that affects permanent marker stains on plastic, is that the plastic surface is non-porous, which makes it easier to remove. The more porous a surface, the more challenging it becomes to get rid of permanent marker stains. This is very evident on a whiteboard, which is a smooth and non-porous surface, so using a dry eraser easily wipes the stain off.

Easily Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic


Can Harsh Chemicals Damage Plastic? 

When you use certain solvents or chemicals to remove permanent marker from your plastic items, they can be absorbed into the plastic. This causes the plastic to soften and lose its strength, and rigidity. Solvents like paint strippers dissolve and destroy most plastics, so using this solvent to get rid of your permanent marker stains is not a good idea. The use of mineral spirits will not affect most types of plastic but will dissolve soft plastics and destroy Styrofoam.

Formica, a type of fabricated board will also not be affected. Even the use of rubbing alcohol and acetone may crack or discolor the plastic surface. 



How to Get Permanent Marker off Plastic Using Common Household Products 

Plastic is an amazing and useful material that we use every day in our homes, but what can we safely use to clean permanent marker stains from our plastic items? First, you need to make sure the products you use are safe for the environment as well as for yourself. So, what common household products will be safe to clean stains from your plastic surfaces? We will then guide you through the process of how to remove Sharpie from plastic effectively and without damaging your plastic surface.

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Aerosol hairspray
  • Dry eraser marker
  • WD-40
  • White vinegar
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Baking soda and regular toothpaste (not gel)
  • Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Dishwash liquid
  • Nail polish remover

How to Get Permanent Marker Off Plastic


Using Rubbing Alcohol to Remove Permanent Marker

Rubbing alcohol is excellent to use, as it will dissolve the chemicals that are in the permanent marker stain and allows you to easily remove it. Rubbing alcohol is safe to use on your plastic items, but it may not be as strong as some of the other products. You may also have to put it on a few times before the stain is gone. For this technique to work, you must purchase rubbing alcohol that is 90 percent or higher.

For small permanent marker stains and plastic that has curved surfaces, like cell phones or keyboards, dip a cotton ball in the alcohol, then wipe the stain until it is clean. If the stain persists, then soak the cotton in the alcohol and keep it on the stain for a while before you wipe it away. 

If you have a large surface with a much bigger stain, then pour some of the alcohol onto the stain and spread it over the entire surface, and wipe it clean using a paper towel. Again, if the stain persists, allow the alcohol to sit a bit on the stain before cleaning. Remember, that the longer the permanent marker stain has been on the plastic, it is able to soak deeply into the surface, making it a lot more difficult to remove the stain. In instances like this, after you have finished, there may still be a slight ghost of a stain remaining. 


Using Acetone to Remove Permanent Marker

Acetone is by far the most effective and strongest product to use for removing permanent marker from your plastic surfaces. However, you should not use it on painted surfaces as well as soft plastics. If you are not confident enough to use it, then apply a small amount on an inconspicuous area and wipe it off after a few seconds. If you observe and color loss or distortion of the plastic, then do not use it. When using acetone to get rid of permanent marker spots from plastic, you follow the same process as with the rubbing alcohol. There is one thing you need to be aware of if you are to avoid damaging your plastic surface. When the stain is stubborn and you apply the acetone to it, be very careful and only let it sit for a few seconds, as it may ruin your plastic item if left on for too long.

Why Remove Sharpie from Plastic


Using Hand Sanitizer to Remove Permanent Marker

When using hand sanitizer to remove permanent marker stains from plastic, it is much safer to use than acetone. Again, do as you did with the rubbing alcohol. Hand sanitizer is a lot easier to apply, especially on curved surfaces.

Simply squirt some directly onto the stain, rub it in with your finger, and wipe it off.


Using Toothpaste and Baking Soda to Remove Permanent Marker

For this method of how to get permanent marker off plastic, you will need equal amounts of baking soda and toothpaste. How much to use depends on how large the Sharpie mark is. When it comes to toothpaste, make sure you use regular white toothpaste and not gel, as regular white toothpaste is more abrasive and will give you a more effective clean. Due to the abrasive nature of the white toothpaste, we do not recommend that you use it on any painted surfaces, as it may scratch the paint.

For stains that are very small, use only a pea-size of each, while larger stains will need a teaspoon or tablespoon of each. 

Place equal amounts of toothpaste and baking soda in a dish or bowl and mix them until you have a thick paste. You can use a fork or a spoon for mixing, or if it is a small amount, a toothpick or popsicle stick will do the job. Now spread the paste over the stain and try not to make it too thin or too thick. This means that after you have spread the paste over the stain and the stain is still visible, you will need to spread more paste over until the stain is not visible anymore. 

Learn How to Remove Sharpie from Plastic

You can leave this for a few minutes, and then if the plastic surface is very smooth, all you need to do is to take a paper towel and wipe the paste off. If the plastic surface is textured, then you need to use a toothbrush, which will be able to get into all the nooks and crannies to remove the stain. The toothpaste and baking soda paste should have removed most of the Sharpie stain and you can then rinse the plastic surface off with some warm water. 

However, it may be a good idea to follow up on the paste and use some rubbing alcohol to ensure all the residue has been removed. 


Using a Dry Eraser Marker to Remove Permanent Marker

Take a dry eraser marker, any color, but try using one that is darker than your stain. This method is perfect for smooth plastic surfaces, especially on whiteboards. However, if the plastic surface is textured this method may not be very effective, and you should then try using rubbing alcohol or toothpaste and baking soda. Draw over the permanent marker stain and the stain should begin to dissolve as the dry eraser markers are alcohol-based and should help dissolve the Sharpie marker stain.

Then just wipe the stain off using a clean cloth. If you find the dry eraser has dried out, try using some glass cleaner, which should also work.


Using Other Household Products to Remove Permanent Marker

You may not have any of the products that we have listed above readily available, or you may want to try a different method. There are many more products you can use that will also effectively remove Sharpie marker stains from your plastic Tupperware, children’s toys, or any other plastic items you have in your home. What removes permanent marker from plastic? Below are a few other options.

  • Tea tree oil: Wipe over the Sharpie stain with some tea tree oil, using a cotton ball.
  • Pencil eraser: Take a good quality pencil eraser, rub the stain, and watch it disappear, this method is only effective when applied to a smooth plastic surface.
  • Sunscreen lotion: Sunscreen lotion contains oils that are able to dissolve the Sharpie marker stain but be careful as some sunscreen lotion oils can stain the plastic surface. So, try out a small section first.
  • Baking soda and vinegar: Sprinkle some of the baking soda over the Sharpie stain, then you can dribble some vinegar over the baking soda. This will form a foam mixture, which you need to leave for a few minutes before wiping off with a towel.
  • Hydrogen peroxide or bleach: For small stains, soak a cotton ball in the solution and wipe it over your Sharpie stain. For bigger stains, pour a little hydrogen peroxide solution over and wipe clean.
  • Hairspray: Spray the hairspray over the stain and wipe it off using a paper towel. The chemicals in the hairspray will dissolve the Sharpie stain. Be careful, as some hairsprays may damage the plastic surface, so try a small section first.
  • Nail polish remover: Place a little acetone on a clean cloth and wipe over the Sharpie stain. This will soften the stain and you can wipe it off.
  • WD-40: Spray some WD-40 onto the Sharpie stain, scrub it clean using a clean cloth, then use some warm soapy water to wash off the residue.

How to Remove Sharpie From Plastic


Using Speciality or Commercial Products to Remove Sharpie Stains on Plastic 

We have just given you a whole list of methods on how to remove Sharpie from plastic, making use of household products. However, what about some specialty products that are specially designed for removing Sharpie marker stains from plastic?

 Let us now consider two such products that are effective for removing Sharpie stains. 


Use a Magic Eraser Sponge to Remove Permanent Marker

This is one of the specialty products that you can find in the cleaning section at the grocery store. Make sure you buy the white plain magic eraser that has no bleach in it. Cut the magic eraser sponge into smaller wedges, making it easier to use. Then dip the sponge into some water and start to rub the stain using circular movements. Be patient, as it may take ten or more minutes before you begin to see any results.

What Removes Permanent Marker from Plastic


Use Goo-Gone to Remove Permanent Marker 

Goo-Gone is a commercial line of cleaners that is perfect for removing Sharpie marker stains from plastic, but be sure you use it on a hard plastic surface for the best results. Spray some Goo-Gone over the Sharpie stain and leave for about five minutes, then wipe clean.



Tips on Preventing Permanent Marker Stains on Plastic 

When learning about what removes permanent marker from plastic, you might want to follow a few tips that could prevent accidents in the first place. So, what can be done to prevent permanent marker stains from spoiling your plastic surface? 

  • Make sure you properly replace the cap of the marker after use.
  • When storing markers, keep them in a cool and dry place, safely away from the hands of small children.
  • If a marker is found leaking fluid, clean up the mess and discard the defective marker.
  • Take care when using your marker and try not to drop it onto your clothing, carpet, furniture, or your handbag. You can also wear older clothes or an apron if necessary, and work over a newspaper.


As you can see, there are quite a few ways to go about removing permanent marker from plastic. Most of these ideas are easy to do and many of the products you need can already be found around the home. So, the next time this problem comes up, you know where to find the solution. 




Frequently Asked Questions 


What Removes Permanent Marker from Plastic? 

When looking at how to remove permanent marker from plastic, you will learn that instead of discarding the item, you can remove the marker stain. You can try using some rubbing alcohol, hairspray, hand sanitizer, toothpaste, and nail polish remover, among other products.


Is a Permanent Marker Stain Permanent? 

The permanent marker stains are not actually permanent, as they may fade over time, especially if left outdoors. You can also easily get rid of the problem by applying the products that we have already mentioned above.


How Long Will Permanent Marker Remain on Plastic? 

If applied on outdoor furniture and exposed to the weather, or by handling the item frequently and running your fingers over it, this may result in the stain coming off. However, if left safely indoors and you do not handle the item much, the stain can last for months or even years.


Cite this Article

Charlene, Lewis, “How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic – An Easy Guide.” Art in Context. June 6, 2023. URL:

Lewis, C. (2023, 6 June). How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic – An Easy Guide. Art in Context.

Lewis, Charlene. “How to Remove Permanent Marker from Plastic – An Easy Guide.” Art in Context, June 6, 2023.

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