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If you’ve spent any time around children, you know that they love to draw all over themselves, hallway walls, prized possessions, and even themselves. Unfortunately, what tool they choose to write with often varies based on what is available. Have you ever found a permanent marker scribbled on a plastic surface? At first glance, it may feel like the object is ruined, as a permanent marker is notorious for being difficult to remove from any surface, let alone plastic. Fortunately, there are multiple methods that we can use to remove the permanent marker on plastic. 

Here are five methods to remove permanent marker stains from plastic

This list of 5 methods will eliminate permanent markers from plastic for good. Although not all methods work for every kind of marker, we have five stain removers listed below that have proven effective at removing stains from pens, markers, and other everyday writing utensils.

Method 1: Using a dry erase marker

Did you know that dry erase markers can remove permanent markers from plastic? Here’s a quick and simple tip for removing permanent markers from plastic.

Required items:

  • Clean Rag or Paper Towel
  • Rubbing Alcohol or Nail Polish Remover
  • Dry Erase Marker

Steps to remove permanent marker from plastic with dry erase marker:

  1. Start by scribbling over the permanent marker with the dry erase marker. 
  2. Go over the permanent marker, completely covering it up with a dry erase marker. 
  3. You should see that most of the permanent ink has been removed. 
  4. Next, clean up any remaining residue by applying rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and scrubbing it with a clean rag.

Method 2: Using rubbing alcohol

The method you use will depend on how tough the stain is. If it’s on a surface that isn’t hard and porous, such as a plastic wall, you may prefer to stick with less aggressive solutions. On the other hand, if the stain has been sitting for a while or is particularly stubborn, you might want to try an abrasive method first.

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains on plastic with rubbing alcohol:

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol directly onto a permanent marker stain using a clean, white cloth. The rubbing alcohol will break down the ink from the permanent marker.
  2. Rub in circular motions over the stained area until the permanent marker stain is removed from the plastic.
  3. Wipe away any excess rubbing alcohol with another clean rag. You should see that most of the permanent ink has been removed. 

Method 3: Using a Magic Eraser

A Sharpie is an excellent tool for marking up a plastic surface, but if you make a mistake or just want to get rid of the writing, you may be frustrated by the fact that Sharpies are permanent. There’s no need to panic. Removing permanent markers from plastic is easier than you think, especially with Magic Eraser.

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains on plastic with a Magic Eraser:

  1. Get yourself a Magic Eraser cleaning pad from your local grocery store. This product is available in all major grocery stores, usually in the cleaning section. Before you use it on your project, test it in an inconspicuous area to make sure it won’t damage your plastic surface.
  2. Once you’ve picked the right spot to test, get the Magic Eraser wet with warm water and wring it out as much as possible; you should be left with a damp sponge-like material.
  3. Now gently rub the Magic Eraser over the permanent marker stain until it’s gone; repeat this process on any other areas of your plastic where you want to remove marker stains. 

Note that this method may require some elbow grease, but once you see how easy it is to get rid of that marker stain, we think it’ll be worth it!

Method 4: Using baking soda and toothpaste

Permanent marker stains can be very stubborn, especially on plastic. Once it sinks in, you may think the stain is permanent, but never fear! There are some common household items that can help you remove those stubborn stains.

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains on plastic with baking soda and toothpaste:

  1. The first step is to create a paste by combining baking soda and toothpaste in a bowl. You can decide how much of each ingredient is based on the size of the stain, but as a general guideline, use five parts baking soda and one part toothpaste.
  2. Next, apply the paste directly to the stained area using a clean cloth. Scrub gently until it starts to lift away. If you’re dealing with a particularly tough stain, let the paste rest for 10 minutes before scrubbing.
  3. You should start to see results immediately! Keep at it until most of the stain comes off. 
  4. Rinse away any remaining residue and dry with a clean towel when you’re finished.

Method 5: Removing permanent marker stains on plastic with other products

How you remove permanent markers from plastic depends on the type of plastic. If it’s clear and smooth, you can usually wipe it off with a dry rag or paper towel without too much trouble. But if it’s white, hard surface, or has deep stains, these methods can help.

Using tea tree oil

If a permanent marker stain accidentally ends up on some plastic, don’t worry. If it hasn’t been there too long, tea tree oil can work wonders.

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains with tea tree oil:

  1. Mix 1 part tea tree oil and 1 part water in a small bowl.
  2. Apply the solution to the stain with a sponge or cloth.
  3. Scrub gently, then scrub again with a dampened sponge.
  4. Pat dry with a clean cloth and repeat if necessary.

Using baking soda and vinegar

Another potential solution to removing permanent marker stains from plastic is using baking soda and vinegar.

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains with baking soda and vinegar:

  1. Mix one part water, one part white vinegar, and half a cup of baking soda into a paste in a bowl.
  2. Dab the stain with a cotton swab dipped in the paste.
  3. Rub the stain in circular motions for 10-20 seconds.
  4. Wipe the plastic down with a clean cloth to remove the paste.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until the stain is gone.

Using hydrogen peroxide

Removing permanent marker stains from plastic with hydrogen peroxide is a breeze!

Required items:

Steps to removing permanent marker stains with hydrogen peroxide:

  1. Soak a paper towel in hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the stain.
  2. Let it sit for five minutes.
  3. Wipe off the stain with a clean, damp paper towel.

Using hairspray

An odd, but often very effective way for removing permanent marker stains on plastic is whipping out your hairspray can.

Required items:

  • Hairspray
  • Clean Cloth
  • Water

Steps to removing permanent marker stains with hairspray:

  1. Spray the stain with a liberal amount of hairspray.
  2. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Wipe it away with a cloth.
  4. Rinse the area with water.
  5. Dry the surface immediately after you rinse it, as moisture can cause permanent markers to set back into place and possibly create a new stain on your plastic surface!

Using Goo-Gone

Goo-Gone is a miracle product at times, and when it comes to removing permanent markers, it can really come in clutch.

Required items:

  • Cotton Swab
  • Goo-Gone
  • Clean Cloth
  • Water
  • Dishsoap
  • Toothbrush

Steps to removing permanent marker stains with Goo-Gone:

  1. Use a cotton swab to rub a small amount of Goo-Gone into the stain. Work in a circular motion to help loosen the ink. If the stain is large, you may need to use a sponge or cloth instead of a cotton swab.
  2. After you have applied the Goo-Gone, let it sit for 2 minutes. This will allow it to penetrate and loosen the permanent marker stain fully.
  3. Wipe away any excess Goo-Gone and ink with a clean cloth. The stain should be lighter than it was initially, but you may need to repeat this process one more time if it is still noticeable.
  4. If you want to remove the remaining ink on your plastic item, try scrubbing the area with hot soapy water and a toothbrush or Magic Eraser sponge. Use an abrasive cleaning pad if needed to get rid of any residual ink that is still visible.

Frequently asked questions removing permanent marker from plastic.

What removes dried permanent markers?

Try soaking the plastic in a dish that’s filled with rubbing alcohol until the stain is gone. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, try hairspray or nail polish remover—just make sure it contains acetone.

How do you get permanent marker off plastic cups?

Try cleaning the plastic with an all-purpose cleaner and a sponge. You can also apply some WD-40, let it sit for about 30 seconds, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. Be sure to clean and rinse thoroughly before use.

How do you get permanent marker off of plastic toys?

Start by spot-testing your all-purpose cleaner on an inconspicuous area of the toy to ensure it won’t damage the surface or color. If it seems safe, use a clean toothbrush to gently scrub the affected area with an all-purpose cleaner while running warm water over the toy. Alternatively, you can try using rubbing alcohol as you would when cleaning hard surfaces.