A Quick & Easy Way to Remove Permanent Market From Your Office Whiteboard

A Quick & Easy Way to Remove Permanent Market From Your Office Whiteboard

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Picked up the Sharpie instead of the dry erase marker? Left the kids alone to get creative or simply turned up at the office to discover someone else has? No worries; here are in fact a number of quick ways to have that white board looking good as new again.

Use Whiteboard Cleaner

Avoid cleaning a whiteboard with any cleaning solutions other than those specifically made and intended to be used on whiteboard surfaces. White board cleaner can be easily and inexpensively purchased via numerous online retailers, such as Noticeborads Online Ltd.

Unlike other cleaning products which are inadvisably but none the less popularly used to clean white boards (most often Windex, Scotch Brite or WD40), purpose made white board cleaner is nonabrasive and will protect rather than damage your white board surface. Meanwhile, using cleaning products not intend to be used on white boards and which consequently break down, damage or dissolve the board’s surface over time result in compromising the wipe clean function of a board; hence, eventually if not initially, even dry erase markers will prove difficult to clean off the surface and your board will become entirely useless.

Dry Erase Pen Holder

Attach a dry erase pen holder to the wall, directly onto a magnetic white board or a nearby metal filing cabinet and get into the routine of always replacing dry erase pens back into the holder after use to ensure there is always one or more available to use and prevent other pens being used instead.

Better yet, order a holder along with cleaning fluid or even with a starter kit that usually provides pens, sponges and cleaner when purchasing your whiteboard and you stand to save even more money, time and effort otherwise trying to remove inadvertently used permanent marker.

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Colour Over and Erase

One way of removing permanent marker from a whiteboard surface which is extremely simple and requires no additional tools, cleaning products or real time and effort is the ‘colour over and erase’ method.

As explained rather succinctly by one helpful comment maker via the Stack Exchange Life hacks website: ‘using a dry erase marker on the dried permanent marker will actually “blend” the two pigments together and re-activate the permanent marker into a liquid state for a millisecond. Then the two marker types dry once again, this time with the active ingredient within the dry erase marker allowing it to be wiped off from the surface easily’.

Therefore, simply colour over the marker pen marks with a dry erase marker. The colour used does not matter. Just remember to use a dry erase marker this time. Once you have covered or traced over the permanent marker with the dry erase ink, wait a moment. The idea is that the two inks absorb into each other and essentially become one ink. Finally, using a whiteboard eraser / sponge rub off the ink from the board.

The colour over and erase method works best on fresh ink marks and can be repeated as many times as needed if not all the ink lefts on the first attempt.


Despite the above advice (not to use and cleaning product not intended for use on a white board surface), there is as always one exception to the rule, and in this case that exception is toothpaste.

Hence, if you have tried all the suggestions above and have still had no luck what-so-ever; purchase a tube of tooth paste. You needn’t buy an extra strong or super expensive brand either; the cheapest available will work and in a supermarket, such as Sainsbury’s will set you back less than 50p.

Simply use a rag or soft towel (avoid using brushes, pan scrubs or anything abrasive) to smear on and then rub off both the toothpaste and the permanent marker. Toothpaste is also a useful and inexpensive product to keep handy for when a white board is looking shabby or you have run out of white board cleaner.

Never Use Water

Finally, this is as much a warning as a tip: if you have a white board upon which non-dry erase ink has been used, never try to remove it (however fresh or wet it still is) by using water. This is more likely to smear the ink and cause it to more easily absorb into a white board surface than lift it from the surface. Hence, using water can really turn a mole hill into a mountain when it comes to white boards.

This is especially true if the ink used was red. Red inks tend to be the most difficult to remove from a white board surface, and can smear awfully when they come into contact with water, as this only dilutes and causes the ink to travel farther and so creates a larger stain. Instead, simply use one or try all of the methods stated above.