How to Remove Permanent Marker from a Dry Erase Board


Sue asked: How do I clean permanent marker off a dry erase board? At work, we have a dry erase board to post arrival and departure times of managers. One of our well-intentioned team members used a permanent marker on the board instead of a dry erase marker. Now we can’t erase the permanent marker words.

Silicone is a substance that requires a removal product designed specifically for this purpose. Once you have chosen a removal product, follow these guidelines for successful removal.

Dry Erase Marker Method

You Will Need:

  • Dry erase markers
  • Dry erase eraser

Steps to Remove the Marker:

  1. The easiest way to remove the permanent marker is fight marker with marker.
  2. Use a dry erase marker to draw over the permanent marker.
  3. Cover it completely by coloring a solid color block over the permanent area.
  4. Erase with a dry erase eraser while the ink is still damp.
  5. Repeat if necessary.

Alcohol Method

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Marker:

  1. Rubbing alcohol is another remover that will take the ink off.
  2. Moisten a soft cloth with some rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.
  3. Rub it over the permanent marker.
  4. Repeat until the ink is removed.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Some have found Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, Windex and nail polish remover effective in removing the ink as well.
  • Be careful if using abrasive cleaners as they can remove the finish of the board which will lead to easier staining in the future.
  • If the finish has been compromised, rub a cloth moistened with baby oil over the surface.


  1. The marker vs. marker method worked like a charm on a two month old Sharpie on our whiteboard! Thanks!

  2. Thank you! Your advice worked like a charm!

  3. The first process worked like a charm! Thank you!

  4. I tried fighting markers with markers and it didn’t work. Although, I left the non-dry erase marker on overnight too.

  5. Using nail polish remover worked wonderfully. Thanks for the advise.

  6. The Dry Erase marker method was AMAZING… I can’t believe it worked, but it did.

  7. Works like a dream; just scribble over the permanent marker with a proper whiteboard pen and rub it off after a couple of seconds.

  8. The marker method worked great! I freaked out when my 3-year-old accidentally grabbed a Sharpie and drew all over the whiteboard with it. Thanks for the tips!

  9. I tried all the suggested methods, but it didn’t work. My problem was that the permanent marker had been used on the whiteboard a few days previously.

    Finally, my wife tried a bleach and it worked. Hope this helps someone. Of course, you have to be careful with the bleach as it is poisonous and very dangerous to handle with bare hands.

  10. Ricardo says:

    I have VERY IMPORTANT STUFF on my white board and a friend wrote on it as a joke…but with the WRONG MARKER! Didn’t have alcohol. But I did have Calvin Klein cologne that I don’t wear. Ha ha. Poured on a few drops. Lifted it RIGHT UP. Wiped it off with toilet tissue. POW!

  11. THIS WORKED!!!! Amazing!

  12. The dry erase marker method worked awesome; just drew over the permanent marker and then waited a few seconds and wiped it with a wet paper towel. I had to draw over it a few times, but it is gone. Thanks!

  13. This worked amazingly – black permanent Sharpie had been on our whiteboard for over a month… covered the writing in dry erase black marker and wiped off with a dry paper towel immediately. Not a trace of Sharpie leftover!

  14. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser took it off in one swipe! It is just like new!

  15. Candies perfume worked when nothing else did. Thanks Ricardo.

  16. There is some red marker on my dry erase board. I’ve tried the dry erase marker method, vinegar, nail polish remover, alcohol, Magic Eraser, Goo Gone, bleach, and 50% alcohol. Nothing is working. I’m now contemplating lacquer thinner, paint thinner, mineral spirits, or acetone…

  17. The dry eraser over the permanent marker worked like magic! Hooray!
    Thank you very much!

  18. WD40 will also work like a charm. Saved me from replacing an older dry erase board and gave it a “new” finish.

  19. Thank you all. I had tried the nail polish remover when I first discovered my son had used a regular RED marker on my whiteboard. It dissolved the ink and as I wiped, it smeared over the board and left a lighter shade of pink. I tried the dry erase marker, then the WD-40 after reading your posts. There still was some traces of pink, so I tried the bleach. Slopped it on and left it for about a minute and that worked perfectly. The board is now sparkling white again.

  20. The best way you can remove permanent marker off a white board is use a general kitchen cleaner. I have just removed a whole class board with lines, names, etc. with a spray bottle that removes greasy grime from your kitchen. It had a hint of bleach. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. No hassle; took minutes.

  21. Thanks a really worked!

  22. OMG!!! Saved our dry-erase board with the marker vs. marker method! Awesome! AKO–our permanent marker was left on overnight, too. What I did: I worked in small, approximately 2-inch increments, completely coating the black permanent marker with blue dry-erase marker, then immediately erasing with a dry-erase eraser. Worked like a charm!

  23. Hi, great page! Do you have any tips for me; I left Magic Marker on my board for about half a year, help please!

  24. We have a wall of white board in our office, and someone used a permanent marker on it; hand sanitizer did the trick, removed it all.

  25. Worked perfectly. I just scribbled over the mark with a board pen, and then wiped it all away. Thank you very much.

  26. I checked a lot of websites to try and find out how this happens when you erase a Sharpie from a whiteboard with a dry erase marker, but no websites for the past 1 1/2 hours have the explanation! Please add the explanation on how this works so I can be done with my science project!

  27. Me,
    Here is my guess: When you have any kind of old stain, the first thing you usually want to do in order to remove it is to make it fresh again, because fresh stains are easier to remove. For example, if you have an old oil stain that has dried, you would spray some WD-40 on it (an oil-based product) to freshen the stain before then trying to remove it. This also goes with the cleaning mantra “like dissolves like”, which is why rubbing alcohol can also work (alcohol is an ingredient in permanent marker ink). So, the new (dry erase) marker mixes with the old (permanent) marker to make it fresh again, which makes it easier to remove.
    In this case though, I think it also matters that when the two markers are mixed, the erase properties (ingredients) of the dry erase marker mix into the permanent marker ink to make it erasable. If you were to simply freshen the permanent marker with more permanent marker, I don’t think erasing the stain would work.
    Wikipedia explains that “A permanent marker can also be removed by drawing over it with a dry erase marker on non-porous surfaces such as a whiteboard[2] as dry erase markers also contain a non-polar solvent.” So their explanation is the “like dissolves like” theory as well.
    Good luck with your project!
    Source: – How to Clean Grease Stains After Laundry
    Source: Sharpie – FAQs
    Source: Wikipedia – Permanent Marker

  28. You had a really thorough explanation Melanie and you really elaborated the alcohol method with your science explanation. The only thing is that alcohol can strip non-porous surfaces, such as a whiteboard, so any writing thereon after will just stain it even worse! Alcohol can also void your warranty, but if it’s of no significance to you, you might want to consider reading the article below.

  29. Science Teacher says:

    Brilliant!! It came off. Saved my white board. Thanks!!

  30. I used Germ-X and it worked immediately!!!!

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