3 ways to remove permanent marker stains

Recently I agreed to babysit my niece for the first time. I thought she would be happy with the few toys and books I had already, but the only thing she wanted to do was color. I didn't have any crayons or markers in my house, but I did have a set of multi-colored permanent markers. It didn't seem like the best idea at the time, but I thought it would be fine as long as I laid some newspaper down and told my niece to be very careful. I was wrong. A few minutes later there was permanent marker on my kitchen table, wall, and floor. Since I rent, I couldn't just leave the marks. After a whole lot of effort, this is what I found to make permanent marker not so permanent.

Nail polish remover

The tile in my kitchen had the worst of the marker stains. My niece had dropped the marker and it landed face down, leaving a large mark across a couple of tiles. I tried mopping the area and cleaning it by hand with an all-purpose cleaner - both failed. Then I tried the strongest smelling thing I had in the house - a bottle of nail polish remover. I poured a small amount of the nail polish remover on my tile and then wiped it up with a paper towel. Amazingly, it got off all of the stain without damaging the tile.


I didn't want to use nail polish on my kitchen table, afraid that the strong chemicals would take off the wood finish. My friend suggested spraying a thick layer of hairspray over the stain, letting it sit until the hairspray dried and then gently wiping it up with a wet towel. I sprayed the hairspray, let it dry for ten minutes, and then wiped it up. The marker stain was gone.

Cooking spray

My walls are painted with a cheaper, non-waterproof paint. I was afraid any chemicals - like those found in nail polish and hairspray - would pull off the paint as well as the permanent marker, so I started looking for something similar. In my pantry, I found a cooking spray with Olive Oil. I tested the spray in a hidden area of the wall and found no damage so I sprayed more on the stains. After wiping the spray off with a wet paper towel, the permanent marker stain was lighter. I tried it again. On the second attempt, the cooking spray pulled off the remaining stain without damaging my walls.

More from this contributor:

How to clean up after your pets before you move

How to clean crayon marks off walls

5 Household uses for dryer sheets