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How to Remove Permanent Marker From Walls

Permanent marker is designed to resist fading, cleaning and removal. In most cases, permanent marker cannot be removed from painted walls. Here are some tips to determine if removal is possible from wall coverings, paneling and ceramic tile.

Things You Will Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean dry rag
  • Spray cleaner
  • Paper towel
  • Baking soda toothpaste

Permanent marker is designed to resist fading, cleaning and removal.  In most cases, permanent marker cannot be removed from painted walls.

Here are some tips to determine if removal is possible from wall coverings, paneling and ceramic tile. 


If the Wall Surface is Wall Covering

  1. At all times during this process, use the rubber gloves to protect hands.
  2. If the surface is a vinyl wall covering, dampen the rag with rubbing alcohol. Lightly wipe the permanent marker with the cloth and determine if any color has been removed from the wall. If the marker is lifted, continue this process until the marker stain is removed.
  3. If the surface is vinyl wall covering but the stain does not lift using rubbing alcohol, dampen a clean, dry rag with lacquer thinner. Test the wallpaper in an out-of-the way area to determine if the lacquer thinner removes the marker. If the stain lifts, continue until the stain is completely removed.
  4. If the surface is paper, cloth or fabric, the permanent marker cannot be removed. The wall covering must be replaced.
  5. Wash the wall with light-duty spray cleaner and a paper towel to remove any residue.

If the Wall is Ceramic Tile

  1. Dampen a clean dry cloth with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Rub the stain in a circular motion. The alcohol will loosen and lift the stain.
  3. After the stain is removed, wash the wall with light-duty spray cleaner and a paper towel to remove residue.

If the Walls are Wood Paneling

  1. Apply rubbing alcohol to the clean dry cloth. Test a small section of the paneling to ensure the solvent will not lift the finish from the paneling.
  2. Rub the marker lightly in a circular motion. Check to determine if the stain is lifted by the solvent.
  3. If the marker is being lifted, carefully continue until the stain is completely lifted. Wash the wall with light-duty spray cleaner and a paper towel to remove residue.
  4. If the marker is not being lifted, the paneling must be replaced.

If the Wall Surface is a Painted Wall

  1. Apply baking soda toothpaste to a dry clean cloth.
  2. Buff the surface in a circular motion.
  3. In some cases, the baking soda and toothpaste combination will remove the marker without damaging the paint.
  4. Wash the wall with light-duty spray cleaner and a paper towel to remove residue.
  5. Warning

    Do not apply lacquer thinner to wood paneling. This strong solvent will remove the finish from a wood paneled wall or damage the surface of a vinyl imprinted wood paneling.

Things You Will Need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean dry rag
  • Spray cleaner
  • Paper towel
  • Baking soda toothpaste

About the Author

Since 2003, Timothy Burns' writing has appeared in magazines, management and leadership papers. He has contributed to nationally published books and he leads the Word Weavers of West Michigan writers' group. Burns wrote "Forged in the Fire" in 2004, and has published numerous articles online. As a trained conference speaker, Burns speaks nationally on the art, science and inspiration of freelance writing.