Friday, July 10, 2009

Removing Permanent Marker

I am a teacher, plus, for the last few years, I've been working with teachers, doing a lot of professional development and curriculum/writing around teaching mathematics, and how young children learn mathematics.

As a teacher, I learned a great tip for getting permanent marker off of white boards and overhead projectors. This was because each medium has a separate writing tool (vis-a-vis wet marker for the overhead, expo dry marker for the white board, and permanent pen for fools who keep permanent pens near small children) but it was so easy to cross over and find yourself with an equation, lovely as it may have been, unmoveably etched across the board.

As a professional development presenter, I often share this tip with teachers in my sessions. It packs a punch in terms of return on investment and retention.

But it wasn't until Erik and I finally bought a bedroom furniture set that I realized the tip also worked for wood and furniture. For the first 15 years of our life together, we slept on a cal-king matress on a metal frame, dorm style. Erik was still using the dresser his parents bought when he was eight, for his childhood bedroom. I was also using an antique dresser my mom bought me when I was a freshman in high school. Nothing wrong with any of this, in my humble opinion, but a few years ago a wedding anniversary coincided with a consultant's fee that resulted in a major upgrade for us.

Four days after the furniture and new mattress were delivered, Scotty took three different colored sharpie markers and completely covered the three drawer fronts on the left side of my new dresser.

It was pretty spectacular. And I started to be devastated, but it was only a few minutes before I realized that I'd just have to move on. It's just furniture, afterall. I've never been one to get unnecessarily attached to a material possession. Was I happy? No. Was I going to get angry and uptight and unwound? Nah. Then, within a few days, the white board solution was worked on the dresser (who cares? how much worse could it get?) and now? Now you would never know it had ever happened.

So here is the solution, in its entirety, to permanent marker on just about any surface, from what I can tell.

If you have two young boys at home (or, even, one drunk husband), you may know that feeling of dread when you realize you've left a Sharpie marker in harm's way.

And you never know where a young artist will choose to develop that masterpiece, but you do know you will stumble across it, someday, and you will cry.

Because you also know that no amount of scrubbing, rubbing alcohol, window cleaner, degreaser, baking soda, white vinegar, or furniture polish will ever, ever, remove (or even fade!) The Dreaded Sharpie Marker.

If the Sharpie is the Shark of the pen world, then the Expo dry erase marker is the Dolphin...a seemingly benign second-cousin, who alone can defeat the toothy destroyer.

Completely cover the Sharpie Scribbles with your own Expo dry-erase scribbles. At first, it will look worse than ever, and you may second-guess yourself. Do not waver.

Rub off the Expo dry-erase scribbles...and magically...the Sharpie permanent scribbles disappear with them!

Standard Household Rules Apply:

1. The sooner you get to the Sharpie Disaster, the better your results will be. (Though my dresser sat for almost a week before I did this, and who knows how long this was sitting on the inside door of the tv cabinet?)

2. After rubbing with the dry towel, there may be some residual Expo dry-erase markings; but a damp cloth or spritz of any type of cleaner will whisk it away, spotlessly.



  1. Thank you for the great insight. I'm sure I'll need this some day in the future. Moose

  2. Mia, you could sell this secret for a million dollars.

  3. Oh.... my.... gosh! I am very layed back too, but that is a true sign of your greatness. I am in awe of your calm!! You might need to remind me of the tip in a few years when I have little ones running around! :)

  4. Hi Mia....

    I saw your name over at Kim's, congrats on winning !!

    nice to meet you.

    Have a nice day :)

    Kathy :)

  5. Haha! I cracked up when I read the line about fools who keep permanent markers near small children! Saw you over at Alice's site... I was a beta tester for the Starling bag, too! We have something else in common: I'm a teacher who has used the dry-erase trick for Sharpie marks. Works like a charm, every time. :)

  6. Hi Kathy! Don't you love Kim? I want to go on vacation to her house! :)

    Seachell ~ That's awesome! Wasn't that so fun with Alice? I love the bag, and I was so happy to have the pattern! I have to laugh about the 'fools' comment too, but only because, um, I've done it too many times to count! Thankfully, I have an inventory of expos!