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a child using a permanent marker to write on the wall

How To Get Permanent Marker Off Walls

by | Jun 10, 2023 | Cleaning Tips

Has your kid ever mistakenly used a permanent marker on your wall? If so, you know how difficult it can be to get rid of.

Permanent markers are designed to write on almost any surface and stay there for a long time.

Fortunately, we prepared some easy methods to remove permanent marker from walls without damaging them.

You’ll see that permanent marker is not as permanent as it first appears!


How to Remove Permanent Marker Stains from Walls


Step 1: Assess the Situation

Before you proceed, identify the type of wall surface you’re dealing with.

You’ll need to know whether it’s painted or wallpapered, what the material is, and whether it’s sealed or not.

The surface type will dictate the best approach to removing the marker stain.


Step 2: Preliminary Cleaning

Hand wearing yellow rubber glove with green microfiber cloth cleaning wall.

Start with a dry, clean cloth to gently wipe off any dust or loose particles from the wall. 

This will prepare the surface for the cleaning process.


Step 3: Testing

Always test your cleaning method on a small, inconspicuous area first. 

This way, you can avoid damaging the entire wall if the cleaning solution proves too strong.


Step 4: The Gentle Approach – Soap and Warm Water

We begin with the most gentle approach: a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap.

Dip a sponge or soft cloth in the solution and gently rub the marker stain.

Rinse the damp cloth and repeat if necessary.

This method can work for less stubborn stains on robust, non-porous surfaces.


Step 5: Step Up the Cleaning Game – Baking Soda and Water

Closeup of baking soda

If the soap and water method didn’t work, don’t worry. There’s another trick up our sleeve: baking soda and water.

Baking soda is a mild abrasive and can lift the stain without damaging your wall.

Mix equal parts of both to create a paste.

Apply the paste to the marker stain using a soft cloth and rub gently.

Remember to rinse the area with water after this process.


Step 6: Bring in the Heavyweights – Commercial Cleaning Solutions or Alcohol

For more persistent stains, it might be time to call in reinforcements.

Alcohol-based products like rubbing alcohol or hand sanitiser are the best defence against permanent marker stains.

Another alternative is to use commercial cleaning solutions specifically designed for this purpose.

These products should be used sparingly and always under the guidance of the product’s instructions.

Apply a small amount to a cloth and gently rub the area. Rinse thoroughly afterwards.

Remember to wear gloves and ventilate the area properly when using these stronger substances.


Step 7: Evaluate and Repeat

Evaluate the results. If the stain is still visible, you may need to repeat the process, try a different cleaning solution or call a cleaning professional.


Step 8: Prime and Paint

If all else fails, your last resort may be to repaint the wall or the section where the stain is.

Use a primer first to cover the marker stain and prevent it from bleeding through the new paint.


FAQs About Removing Permanent Marker Stains


Can I Use Nail Polish Remover to Get Permanent Marker Off Walls?

adult woman's hands putting nail polish remover on cotton

Yes, nail polish remover can remove permanent marker from walls. This is because it typically contains a powerful solvent called acetone.

However, you should use it with caution, as it can also remove or damage paint, especially if it’s not a high-gloss finish.


How Do You Remove a Dried Permanent Marker Stain?

Here are a few methods to remove dried permanent marker from walls:

  • Rubbing Alcohol: This is a very effective solution for removing permanent marker. Wet a cloth or a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol) and gently dab at the stain. Don’t rub or scrub, as this can spread the stain and possibly damage the paint.
  • Acetone or Nail Polish Remover: Acetone, which is often found in nail polish remover, can help dissolve the marker stain. Apply a small amount to a cloth and gently blot the stain. Be cautious with this method, as acetone can sometimes remove or dull paint, particularly if it’s a dark or vibrant color.
  • Commercial Cleaning Products: Products like WD-40 or Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser can be very effective. Follow the instructions on the packaging and, as with other methods, test in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Toothpaste and Baking Soda: This combination has mild abrasive properties that can help lift the stain without damaging the paint. Mix equal parts of baking soda and toothpaste, apply it to the stain, and gently rub with a soft cloth. Rinse the area with warm water and dry it with a clean towel.
  • Hair Spray: This method is an old household trick. Spray a small amount of hairspray onto the stain, let it sit for a few moments but don’t let it dry. Then wipe it off gently with a clean cloth. Repeat if necessary.

Remember, these methods may require some patience and multiple attempts to completely remove the stain.


Can I Get Permanent Marker Off Walls Without Ruining Paint?

kid's room with painted wall

Yes, you can remove permanent marker off walls without ruining the paint, although it may take a bit of careful work.

You can always try using warm, soapy water and a clean cloth to try and lift most of the permanent marker stain. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a different cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol.

As paint types and marker stains can vary, it’s important to test any of the methods above on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t damage the finish.


How to Get Permanent Marker Off White Walls?

The most common cleaning method to remove permanent marker off white walls is to use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl).

Apply a bit of rubbing alcohol to a soft cloth or cotton ball and dab at the stain. Remember to avoid rubbing or scrubbing, which can spread the stain.


It’s Not So Permanent After All

Regardless of your chosen cleaning method, always remember to be gentle on your walls.

Vigorous rubbing can damage the surface, especially if it’s painted or wallpapered.

So while permanent markers can create a mess, it’s not a hopeless situation.

With some know-how and maybe a touch of luck, you can restore your wall to its pristine state.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and keep those permanent markers out of the reach of little hands (and maybe some grown-up ones, too!).

About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.


About Author

Sophie Franklin

Sophie is the subject matter expert within Maid2Match. Most importantly though she is our biggest fan girl and generous in sharing what she knows.