How to Remove Sharpie Ink Stains


Josh asked: How do I remove sharpie from white shoes? How does one remove blue sharpie from the side of a white skate shoe?

Sharpie markers are permanent markers so they are very difficult to remove from porous, soft surfaces. Try the remedies below to remove or significantly lessen the mark.

You Will Need:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Denatured alcohol (found with paint supplies)
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Water
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels or soft cloths

Steps to Remove the Marker:

*Always test a small hidden section first to ensure the cleaner will not cause any adverse effects to the surface of the material.

  1. Begin by moistening a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and gently blot the marker line.
  2. Blot with a clean cloth moistened with water.
  3. Repeat as necessary.
  4. If the rubbing alcohol does not remove the stain, try denatured alcohol, but be sure to test that the material can take it. Denatured alcohol can be used as a stripper, so it is much harsher than rubbing alcohol.
  5. Apply it using a cotton swab, and try to get it only on the marker if possible.
  6. Blot with a clean cloth moistened with water to rinse completely.
  7. If there is still a marker line present, wipe the area with nail polish remover.
  8. Blot with water and a clean cloth to rinse.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Regular white toothpaste is another alternate cleaner that can be applied to ink and marker stains. Simply apply and rub gently with a soft cloth. Rinse and allow the area to dry.
  • Goof Off is a commercial cleaner, available at any department store, that has been successful in removing many types of stains, including marker.
  • If the stains are on a surface that can be painted, consider using a paint pen to cover the spot.


  1. How can I remove a permanent marker stain from a very expensive dining room tablecloth? I am trying OxiClean, but it does not look like it will remove it? It’s was a black permanent marker.

  2. Hi I was looking for a way to remove a stain from a Tae Kwon Do white uniform stained with blue Sharpie.

    Nothing that I found on the internet worked, so I started doing it myself, I was able to remove the stain 98%.

    First, I used Shout fabric pre-wash cleaner directly on the stain and left it there for 24 hours.

    Then, I washed it in the washing machine with warm water and regular detergent, adding Oxy-Clean powder. After the first time, the stain was almost gone.

    With the fabric still wet, I applied the Oxy-Clean powder directly to the remaining stain and let it dry for a while (20 minutes) and washed again (only this piece of clothing) and the stain was gone almost completely.

  3. Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser; it does amazing things.

  4. NEVER apply OxiClean directly to a fabric and let set – no matter what the company says. You have probably noticed by now that it ate through the fabric much the same as a bleach spill – if not, you soon will see a tear right where you left the corrosive powder set.

  5. Hi, how do I remove black sharpie marker from a white non-smooth refrigerator? Mr. Clean Magic Eraser does not work, nor does rubbing alcohol. In fact, nothing I’ve tried has worked. Please help!

  6. StevenB’s comment on Oct. 11 is either a troll dropping or abject conjecture. Oxi-Clean does not corrode fabric when wet or dry, but sodium hypochlorite does corrode fabrics at different rates over time.

  7. I have a couple of barbies that have stains on their faces. One has overwhelming ink stains on it and I’ve tried everything, from rubbing alcohol to toothpaste to Mr. clean magic eraser, even goof off, Windex, soap and baking soda. Nothing has worked. I’m about ready to give up.

  8. Acetone or nail polish remover.

  9. My autistic three-year-old took a sharpie to the kitchen dishwasher. I used a cleaning powder called Bon Ami, which is all natural (no harsh chemicals) so as to not scratch any surfaces since I’m currently renting. It can be found in the grocery store cleaning section (look around the Ajax) – it’s in a yellow egg yolk-colored canister. I prefer not to have nail polish, alcohol or any other chemical that is eye level or tongue level for the little one. I tried many different products, but this one is all natural, cost efficient, and cleaned it super quick even though the sharpie stains were multiple days old.

  10. Had a blue sharpie stain on a coat that had set for two weeks. Tried all sorts of branded stuff, but what worked was rubbing alcohol. I soaked the part of the stained coat in the alcohol, then rubbed vigorously with a cotton bud. After 15 minutes, it began to come away and thirty minutes later was almost good as new. Just persist and watch for any colour coming away from the garment; I stopped as soon as the red from the coat was coming away.

  11. I’ve been trying to remove red Sharpie from a new kitchen floor. It is a good sheet vinyl, thicker than most flooring. None of the commonly suggested methods/products have removed it all. It is only 60% to 75% gone. I’ve tried Spot Shot, Magic Eraser, denatured alcohol, WD-40, lacquer thinner, enamel thinner, nail polish remover; It has gone from a basic Sharpie red color, to a fluorescent red/orange. It appears that the ink on top has been removed, but it has bled into the flooring. My next attempt will be with another harsh solution and baking soda to draw it out. Any other suggestions will be welcome.

  12. A good way I have learned about to remove Sharpie stains from smooth hard surfaces is to color over them with a dry erase marker and simply wipe it off. This works really well.

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