Last Updated on April 14, 2022 by Katie Barton
One of your kids gets a hold of a permanent marker, and next thing you know, there are stick figure drawings all over the wall.
As frustrating as this might be, you can get the marker off your wall without removing the paint – and it’s not hard to do.
Here are the top five ways to get permanent marker off the wall.
How to Get Permanent Marker off the Wall
These methods work best if you have a satin or semi-gloss paint sheen on the wall. If your paint sheen is flat, you need to spot test in an inconspicuous area first, as some of these may stain the wall.
Method 1: Rubbing Alcohol
A practical approach to removing permanent marker from your walls is by treating them with rubbing alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is excellent at breaking down ink.
Here’s what to do:
- First, soak a cotton swab in rubbing alcohol.
- Then, place the cotton swab on the permanent marker spots and rub around circularly until the marker starts to fade.
- When you notice your cotton swab becoming stained, it’s time to replace it. Take a new swab and discard the old one. Before using it on the walls, soak it in alcohol.
After you remove the marker stain, rinse the wall with water.
Method 2: Lemon Juice & Toothpaste
Even if it seems odd, toothpaste mixed with lemon juice can effectively wear away permanent marker stains. (Just be sure to use a white toothpaste instead of the gel kind.)
For this method, follow the steps below:
- Fill a small bowl halfway with warm water. Now add a small amount of white toothpaste.
- Squeeze the juice of one lemon to the bowl or add a few drops of lemon juice.
- Stir to combine.
- Apply the solution to the wall with an old toothbrush or a cotton swab.
- Lightly scrub the wall and rewet the toothbrush as needed.
Method 3: Baking Soda
Since baking soda is mildly abrasive, using it with a sponge can help remove the marker without harming the paint on the wall.
Here’s what to do:
Wet the sponge and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on top. Gently massage the sponge against the affected area in a circular manner. Rinse and repeat if needed.
You can up the scrubbing power by mixing baking soda with white toothpaste. Then use a toothbrush, cotton ball, or your finger, and scrub the mixture over the permanent marker mark.
Allow it to sit for a few minutes before rinsing it with clean water.
Method 4: Magic Eraser
If you haven’t tried a magic eraser on your walls yet, give one a try. Magic erasers are great at removing all kinds of stains, including permanent markers.
(One caveat, though: If you have a flat paint sheen on your wall, spot test to ensure the magic eraser doesn’t remove your paint.)
Here’s how to remove marker stains with a Magic Eraser:
- First, dampen your Magic Eraser with warm water.
- Next, apply gentle pressure and rub the eraser against the marker spot.
- After cleaning, gently wipe the area with a clean damp cloth or towel.
Magic Erasers also work wonderfully for removing crayon marks from the wall.
Method 5: WD-40
WD-40 is a multi-purpose lubricant, dirt remover, and water repellent. It works well to remove marker, but it’s often a last resort since it has a strong odor.
Before using it, open a window for ventilation. Also, avoid using it on flat paint, as flat paint will potentially absorb the WD-40, further staining your wall.
Follow these steps to use this method:
- Place a towel on the floor under the marker stain.
- Spray a small amount of WD-40 on the wall.
- Scrub the mark with a clean, dry rag in a circular motion.
- Now clean the area with water and soap to remove any lingering WD-40
How Can I Tell What Paint Sheen is On My Wall?
These methods work wonderfully on semi-gloss, eggshell, and satin paint sheens. However, for flat paint sheens, they can potentially cause damage, which is why you need to spot-test them first.
So how do you know what paint sheen you have on the wall?
If you shine a light on your wall and the paint looks a little bit shiny and feels smooth and silky, you have semigloss, satin, or eggshell. On the other hand, if your walls have no shine and feel a bit rough to the touch, you have a flat paint sheen on the wall.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I remove permanent marker from the wall without damaging the paint?
Lemon essential oil is an excellent solution for removing permanent markers from painted walls. Lemon is a well-known natural cleaner for your home. The oil and the acidic lemon combine to gently coax the stain away from the surface without damaging the paint.
You can also use baking soda or baking-soda-based toothpaste. (However, you should avoid gel-based toothpaste.) Prepare a paste mixing baking soda and water, then rub it onto the marker location.
Can you clean painted walls using magic erasers?
You can use magic erasers on painted walls to remove permanent marker lines, scuffs, and stains, but you need to avoid them for cleaning wood paneling or other painted surfaces. The brittle nature of these erasers can cause scratches and even rips on the wall. Also, do a spot check if your walls have a flat sheen of paint on them.
Is rubbing alcohol effective at removing marker stains?
Rubbing alcohol is a disinfectant, but you can also use it to erase permanent marker marks by breaking down the oils and other alcohols within the stains.
It’s never fun to find permanent marker all over your walls. Luckily, there are many methods you can use to remove the stains.
The methods listed above are proven effective, and you most likely have the supplies on hand. If your walls are semi-gloss or satin, try a magic eraser. If that doesn’t work, move on to another method.
Katie Barton is the owner of Cabin Lane. She's also a home improvement writer for Bob Vila and Homedit. Her cleaning and organizing advice has been featured on Realtor.com, Yahoo News, GoBankingRates, and more. In her spare time, you can find her with a paintbrush in hand, searching for her next project.