One of the interesting things I’ve learned at work was the many ways that permanent marker can be removed from surfaces. Now, depending on the surface, it may or may not be possible to remove the marker. Porous surfaces (Wood, Paper, Cloth) are pretty well impossible to remove the marker from without getting really serious (Sanding for wood, bleaching for cloth, burning for paper). But smooth surfaces and some semi-porous surfaces are possible to clean. Some more easily than others.

For your extremely smooth, mark resistant surfaces that haven’t held the marker ink for too long can be cleaned pretty easily. With a little isopropyl alcohol, mineral spirits, acetone, or dry erase marker cleaner and a rag you can easily remove most “young” permanent marks.

When things get a little more difficult, it’s time to start bringing out the big guns. For semi-porous or long standing permanent marker marks there are a few tricks that work wonders at removing said marker. The first trick is the age old SOAK IT! method. Just use one of the above and let it soak in for about 10-15 minutes. For mild marker stains this can often be plenty to lift the marker out.

For more serious marks you’ll need some additional equipment: a highlighter and/or a dry-erase marker. The dry-erase marker is more effective than the highlighter, but both can work. Be warned: on semi-porous surfaces both dry-erase and highlighters can sometimes leave permanent stains. It’s a good idea to test an inconspicuous area before attempting this. Take your new marker and thoroughly coat the area you want to lift the permanent marker from. Immediately apply a small amount of one of the above cleaners to the whole area and let it soak in for a minute or two. Use a rag to wipe the area clean. Sometimes you have to repeat it a few times, but we’ve found that in 90% of tough cases this method works when cleaners alone do not.

The final resort is for those really tough stains that you absolutely have to get out. You’ll need some toothpaste (paste, not gel) and a stiff toothbrush. Apply the toothpaste with the brush and a little water directly to the area you wish to clean. Allow the paste to sit on the area and “soak in” for 6 hours or so. Using water and the brush, carefully scrub the area clean. This has worked in a few situations where the above methods did not (such as on a lightly polished wooden surface).

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?