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If you’re like the rest of us, your dry erase board is probably covered with notes and reminders. And if you’re like the rest of us again, you’ve probably put a permanent marker on said dry erase board at least once. So how can you get a permanent marker off a whiteboard?

Chances are you may encounter this problem at some point in your adult life: someone has used a permanent marker or pen to write on your whiteboard, and the stains won’t come off. While it can be frustrating when your perfectly printed graphics or text are covered by permanent marker ink, rest easy knowing that there are several methods for removing these stains.

Fortunately, most stubborn stains can be removed with common household products. Here are 3 easy methods to remove permanent marker from whiteboards.

Method 1. Use a dry-erase marker

You can use soap or white vinegar to remove light marks, but, unfortunately, they are unlikely to work on any stains you cannot remove with your regular dry erase marker.

You will need one or more of the following: 

Steps to remove permanent marker from whiteboards with a dry-erase marker:

  1. Cover the permanent ink entirely with a dry-erase marker. This will work to dissolve the permanent ink below it, leaving only the dry-erase marker ink behind. 
  2. Once you’re done, let it sit for a few minutes to soak in.
  3. Use a clean paper towel or clean whiteboard eraser to wipe away the permanent ink.

If the whiteboard or eraser is not clean (apart from permanent ink), following these steps may cause smudges that will be hard to remove. If you see no sign of a stain being removed after two attempts, you can try other methods. To improve your chances of successful removal, you should remove permanent ink stains as quickly as possible.

Method 2. Rubbing alcohol

If the permanent marker doesn’t come out with the first method, don’t worry. Rubbing alcohol is the most likely solution to your problem. Alcohol quickly dissolves permanent marker ink. 

You will need one or more of the following: 

Steps to remove permanent marker from whiteboards with rubbing alcohol:

  1. Fill a spray bottle or dampen a cloth with a small amount of 70% isopropyl alcohol or 100% ethyl alcohol. 
  2. Place the stained whiteboard in a well-ventilated area, and apply the alcohol over the stain.
  3. Wipe clean and allow it to air out for 5 minutes before using.

Method 3. Nail polish remover

Nail polish remover is one of the most effective ways to remove scuff marks from whiteboard surfaces. Before using any product on your whiteboard, it’s important that you test it on an inconspicuous area of the board first to ensure that it does not have any adverse effects on writing quality or finish.

You will need one or more of the following: 

Steps to cleaning a whiteboard with nail polish remover: 

  1. Apply the nail polish remover with a cloth 
  2. Rub to remove the stain. 
  3. Rinse with water 
  4. Dry with a paper towel or rag.

If acetone gets into your eye – or even if it doesn’t but you are not sure – wash your eye for 15 minutes under running, lukewarm water. Hold your eyelids open and do not stop to remove contact lenses. If you are unable to wash your eyes for the full 15 minutes, try to at least hold your eyelids open for 5 minutes. Be sure to seek the advice of a medical professional if there are any concerns.

Other solutions for removing permanent marker from whiteboards

Clean and disinfect your whiteboard with the recommended whiteboard cleaner. Cleaners for whiteboards are available in a variety of brands and come in different formulas, so it’s important to find one that’s right for you.

It’s also good to check with the manufacturer of your whiteboard before you choose a cleaning agent — they’ll likely have their own recommendations as well as guidelines for using any third-party cleaning products. My personal preference when it comes to cleaners are non-toxic products, like Loukin’s Whiteboard Cleaner.

While other solutions might be tempting for what seems like an instant fix, it’s essential to be skeptical of harsh cleaners. Many abrasive cleaners can damage whiteboards, such as baking soda, toothpaste, or scouring powders. You should never use Ammonia-based household cleaning products on whiteboards because they can easily damage the surface area.


  • If bumps or indentations are caused by pressing the pen against the whiteboard, you may need to rub harder.
  • To preserve your whiteboard’s erasability, you must use a standard ballpoint pen.
  • Consider upgrading from a standard whiteboard to a Magnetic Quarter Glass Whiteboard. Glass is much easier to keep clean and less likely to be permanently harmed when the accidental marker is used. These boards make a wonderful addition to any home office or teaching environment.

Use caution when choosing cleaning materials

Chemical reactions can be exothermic, meaning that the resulting heat from the chemical reaction can pose a threat to humans or buildings if not properly contained. In fact, mixing household chemicals can be hazardous — and your whiteboard may not survive the intense acidity of some household cleaners. To prevent serious damage to your home, don’t mix any acids with any bases on a whiteboard.

Keep your whiteboards in pristine condition.

Now that you know how to remove permanent marker from a dry erase board the easy way, it’s time to put that knowledge into practice. With this guide, erasing a whiteboard should be a breeze. Keeping your whiteboard free of permanent marker can save you plenty in dry erase marker costs — it’s just a matter of making sure you’re prepared for the next big marking spree.

With this newfound knowledge, you can remove permanent marker from whiteboards when accidents happen and keep them in pristine condition. If your boards are frequently used by students, teachers, or other frequent users, make sure you include this knowledge in your whiteboard care guide. And if your chalkboards are getting older and showing signs of wear, remember to check out our guide on how to clean them.