Thursday, May 10, 2012

Out Damned Spot! Out I Say! Permant Marker + White Board= Seeing Red

Have you ever had one of those days you wish you stayed in bed? I had one a couple of weeks ago when I struggled (aka screamed, threw a fit or two and ran) to get to the train on time only to find out it was delayed (so the rush was pointless), then I got into work to see my coworker had used his recently purchased permanent markers to write on not one but two white boards. I literally said to him "my 6 year old even know the difference between a permanent marker and a whiteboard marker!" The funniest part was some of the details were his personal lists and not work related. Made me chuckle a little bit. But the deed was done, so I had to figure out how to get it off.
I received a great tip from Amy on a previous post (where I ripped up a white board because my kids drew on it when they were little) on how to take the permanent marker off with Murphy's Oil Soap.  So I thought I would test it out with a few other methods to see how they compare.

So this is what challenge I faced. Not only was it permanent marker, it was red permanent marker! I found this to be the hardest of any color to remove; but I did.

The methods to remove permanent marker from white board I tested:

  • Murphy's Oil Soap
  • Magic Eraser
  • White Board Marker (I will explain below)
  • Combination Murphy's oil soap and magic eraser

Murphy's Oil Soap (Undiluted)

I dampened a microfiber cloth with Murphy's Oil soap and scrubbed away. It worked really well and only took bit of scrubbing to get it all off. You will need lots of cloths because the permanent marker almost seems to be an oil that sits on the cloth. I did end up with bright red stained fingers from this method.

Magic Eraser

I dampened the Magic Eraser with water and scrubbed the permanent marker. It seems to smear the permanent marker across the white board; again it felt like the permanent marker had oil in it. Do you see the shading of the word below?
It eventually took everything off with more scrubbing, so it definitely is an option if you face this same problem.

White Board Marker

Monstermoma recommended scribbling over the entire area of permanent marker with white board marker! You read that right...cover the permanent with white board marker. Guess what, it works. It is not the best solution out of all of them, but it will work if you have no other choice.
So here is what it looked like. The permanent marker is the red and the green is the white board marker. I found the permanent marker almost transferred to the white board marker so be careful not to ruin your white board markers with this method.
Use the white board eraser brush to clean the area and here was what you have.
Not completely gone, but after a few more tries it was.
I did find it did not clean the board to it original state. It left little lines of permanent marker in grooves on the board. You can kind of see it in this photo at the bottom left.

Combination Method - Murphy's Oil Soap and Magic Eraser

I found this to be the best solution to remove the permanent marker. Dampen your magic eraser with Murphy's oil soap and scrub away. It easily removed the permanent marker and the oily film that I struggled with with both of the individual methods.

Ranking of methods to get permanent marker off a white board:
  1. Combination of Murphy's oil soap and magic eraser
  2. Murphy's oil soap
  3. Magic eraser
  4. White Board Marker technique

So here are some full after shots. I would show you the before images where these boards are completely covered with red permanent marker, but I don't think we need to know my coworkers to do list since we all have long ones ourselves.

Two sparkling clean white boards!
Not bad if I do say so myself.

I hope this helps some of you out there; I wish I knew about it when my two kids were really young.

Up next in "Out Damned Spot! Out I Say"....colored candle wax in cream carpet! 

Do you have any tips or tricks of your own?


  1. We used to use hairspray on our dorm room whiteboards in college. Just spray it on then wash it off and the permanent marker comes right off with it :)

    1. Yes! We also used on getting permanent marker off lots of things.

    2. Static Guard Spray also takes it completely off in a jiffy! I discovered this after trying everything else I could think of and out of desperation, gave it a shot. It works like magic!

    3. Use Soft Scrub or Cerama Bright stove top cleaner followed with some Fantastic or soapy water to remove the residue.

  2. For the wax on the carpet, you could try melaleuca's sol u Mel. I just discovered it and it is taking everything out of our carpet! Even stains that were there when we moved in 3 years ago! I have not tried it on wax but it is worth a try.

  3. Plain old rubbing alcohol works like a charm.

    1. Yes, it does!! That is all I ever used in the classroom...after chalkboards became obsolete.

  4. I have found that using the gel-type antibacterial (water free) hand sanitizer and a paper towel works great.

  5. On the white board in my Sunday School room when the kids used permanent marker, I wiped it off with a kleenex and hand sanitizer..took it right off!

  6. Go to the DOLLAR store & get some "Totally Awesome Cleaner" & Wah lah! It is AWESOME!

  7. we always used the white board marker method. thanks for the info. will sure use magic erasor+murphys oil soap, or alcohol hand jel.

  8. We always used hand sanitizer/Purell when I taught.

    1. I agree 100% i used Hand sanitizer just yesterday to clean a white board that someone had used the wrong marker on and it came right off.

  9. Hair spray will remove most ink from almost everything, even fabric.

  10. It may depend on the type of dry-erase board to take off permanent marker. I've tried the magic eraser, hairspray, mean green, dry-erase marker, and hand-sanitizer and none worked on a board at church. It was Sensodyne Tootpaste that eventually got it off.

  11. Perfume removes permanent marker from white boards too

  12. I work in healthcare and in each of the patients' rooms are white boards for date, nurse and aide's name etc. Someone from the previous shift used permanent marker on each of the boards! I found that the little alcohol swabs in the nurse's carts worked very well!! I rubbed it all over the marker and it smeared everywhere but I used a wet paper towel and then another alcohol wipe and another wet towel and it was gone! Dry it off and the board looked nearly brand new! :)

  13. To freshen up a white board after it's been used (and used ... and used ...) and is full of smudges, just wipe down with a baby wipe. Makes it look like new and smell great.

  14. Rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

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