The Best Way to Get a Permanent Marker From Your Whiteboard

Last June, my pupil came home on her last day of school with a folder of avant-garde sample letters “How to Turn a Pancake” and a pencil case full of not one, not two, but ten markers without caps. Of course, he used one of those capless markers to cover every inch of his whiteboard for dry erase with blue wavy lines. And, of course, this marker was permanent. (“How did he get this unauthorized writing instrument?” She lamented to heaven.)

After inadvertently mentioning it on TikTok , comments have been pouring in on how to remove the permanent marker from dry erase boards. Many excitedly stated, “Use this and it will work right away!” And two and a half months later, the day before he went to first grade, I actually tried them. While there was no “immediate exit” to speak of (all methods required vigorous cleansing and a little squeezing of the neck), here’s what I learned.

Does hand sanitizer get rid of the permanent marker?

After the last two years we had, I felt compelled to start with my new best friend, hand sanitizer. Although she removed individual strokes of the marker, the board was still blue. You’re good at a lot of hanitizers (as my kids call it), but getting rid of your old, crusty permanent marker isn’t one of them. Pass.

Can a dry erase marker get rid of a permanent marker?

Guess the riddle for me: can a marker remove a marker ? Some people vowed to use this method of using a whiteboard marker to remove damage, but alas, it gave the same results as hand sanitizer. The superficial touches disappeared, but the deep blue washed out hue remained.

Has insect spray got rid of my permanent marker?

Disclaimer: The only insect spray we have in our house is a “natural” insect repellant called “Buzz Away” (manufactured by Quantum Health) and its ingredients are as hippy-dippy as you can imagine. While a mixture of citronella, ethanol, castor oil, cedarwood, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass essential oils do not work to remove the highlighter, standard DEET-based repellent is powerful.

Did the sunscreen spray work?

I used the Target Up & Up sports sunscreen spray with a broad SPF 30 spectrum and it worked the same as the insect spray, that is, not very well. Perhaps if he was more like his late 90s / early 2000s unawakened ancestors instead of caring so much about the reefs? (By the way, you might as well not have to worry about a “reef-safe” sunscreen .)

What about Mr.

Magic … where? While a bald man can do wonders with mysterious dirty handprints covering your walls, doors, and light switches (he can even remove disgusting mildew from the deck railing, but I digress), he couldn’t match the power of the almighty Sharpy. The only thing it erased is the top colored surface, and I hope any of these random household items will do the trick.

Rubbing alcohol?

Finally, I did better with 70% rubbing alcohol, but the results were still not surprising. Although he removed the top dark colored surface and some of the underlying cloudy spots, he still left a sad pallor that seemed to say, “Well, someone fell asleep again with eye makeup.” There was too much rattle left on the board to claim victory.

And finally, nail polish remover.

This was the Eureka moment I had been waiting for. After several copious pours of regular nail polish remover onto a cotton pad, the permanent marker lifted quickly and easily, leaving far fewer marks than with other methods. After a few wipes with a clean napkin, it looked … not new, but definitely clean and clear enough to be reusable.

I now reiterate that this cleanup was carried out more than two months after I discovered the problem marker, and the above methods would probably have worked better if they had been used before. But if nail polish remover works after two months, it’s probably also your best bet shortly before contact.

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