If you keep a few permanent markers or Sharpies, one of the reasons you’d have bought them is to write on metal. But what if you don’t want the writing to stay on the metal surface forever? How do you remove permanent markers from metal?

Here are some ways you can remove permanent marker or Sharpie from metal:

  1. Apply isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).
  2. Improvise with toothpaste.
  3. Use a dry-erase marker.
  4. Use a Magic eraser.
  5. Use a hand sanitizer.
  6. Use an aerosol hairspray.
  7. Apply nail polish remover.
  8. Use WD-40.
  9. Use bleach, pencil eraser, or sunscreen.

We’ll give you easy-to-follow steps for each of these methods in the rest of the article. And if you’re wondering whether permanent markers or Sharpie stay on metal surfaces, to begin with, read on to find out!

Does Sharpie Stay on Metal?

Sharpie stays on metal and is one of the best permanent markers that you can use on metal in the market. The ingredients that make them work on metal include a colorant, solvent, and resin; the latter is what makes Sharpie’s ink stick on the metal permanently. 

Let’s go over the ingredients in a bit more detail.

  • A colorant: the dye that gives your Sharpie its color.
  • A solvent: a liquid carrier such as toluene and xylene that dissolves and sends the colorant and resin to the porous material in the Sharpie tube and at the writing point. The solvent in a Sharpie is the main element in permanent markers.
  • Resin: a sticky polymer, such as urethane, which makes the ink stick to the surface when the solvent in the Sharpie evaporates. If Sharpie ink lacked resin, it would turn into dust when the solvent evaporates and not stay on metal or any other surface.

9 Ways to Remove Permanent Marker or Sharpie From Metal

Now that you know why Sharpie stays on metal, it’s time to know the details of how you can remove permanent markers from metal surfaces when you no longer want it there.

1. Apply Isopropyl Alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol)

When you use a permanent marker on metal, the ink dries and firms on the surface. Using alcohol breaks down the chemicals in ink and revives it.

You can remove Sharpie ink with any alcohol that has at least a 40% concentration. However, I advise you to go for isopropyl alcohol (IPA), also known as isopropanol or commonly as rubbing alcohol. Here’s why.

According to the global manufacturer of innovative cleaning products isopropyl is an extremely high purity grade alcohol with a 99% concentration. The quality of isopropyl alcohol puts it top on the list of the purest forms of alcohol.

Most significantly, isopropyl alcohol is exceptionally effective at breaking down ink chemicals. It’s non-corrosive to metals and evaporates in an instant. As such, it’s our top choice for removing permanent markers from metal.

To remove Sharpie from metal with isopropyl alcohol, follow these steps:

  1. Purchase high-quality isopropyl alcohol from a reliable supplier. Opt for one with a high customer rating like Pronto 99% Isopropyl Alcohol. This multipurpose salon-grade formula has the concentration surety because the manufacturer intended it for use on human skin. It’ll also work effectively on Sharpie-marked metal.
  2. Pour the required amount of isopropyl alcohol into a small bowl. Separating the necessary amount of alcohol will make dipping the rubbing cloth easier and avoid dirtying all the alcohol in the container.
  3. Soak a soft clean cloth into the alcohol you just poured into a bowl and let it absorb.
  4. Rub the cloth soaked with alcohol on the permanent marker. You can opt to soak the Sharpie mark for a few minutes before rubbing to make your work easier. The ink will gradually fade as you rub and then vanish.

2. Improvise With Toothpaste

Toothpaste, especially those types with a bit of baking soda, like Crest Cavity and Tartar Protection Toothpaste, have an abrasive quality that gets rid of Sharpie ink without needing to dissolve it. You can buy this Crest toothpaste on Amazon.com, and you won’t just be using it for your emergency Sharpie removal but also a fresher mouth and white teeth.

To remove permanent marker from metal using toothpaste, follow these steps:

  1. Take toothpaste that has baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in the ingredients list. Be sure to go for the regular paste, not the gel type. Mix regular toothpaste and baking soda in equal amounts if you don’t have toothpaste with baking soda.
  2. Apply the toothpaste on the Sharpie mark and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Use a clean cloth to wipe off the toothpaste and check if the permanent marker is gone.
  4. Repeat if needed until the Sharpie mark is gone.

3. Use a Dry-Erase Marker

A marker to remove another marker sounds crazy. But, yes. You can remove permanent marker stain with a dry-erase marker.

Because they’re made for non-porous surfaces, both dry-erase and permanent markers work perfectly on metal. However, as a difference, permanent markers use an acrylic resin which makes them stick to metal, while dry erase markers use a non-stick silicone polymer.

So, how does a dry-erase marker remove permanent markers from metal? Here’s how:

  1. Pick any dry-erase marker you have available.
  2. Scrap the dry erase marker over the permanent marker on metal as though you were erasing it. Be sure to rub every bit of the permanent marker with ink from the dry erase marker.
  3. Wipe the ink with a damp cloth or piece of tissue. Both the ink from the permanent marker and the dry erase marker will disappear with ease without leaving a trace of the Sharpie ink.

Watch this video to see how that miracle happens in real life:

4. Use a Magic Eraser

A Magic Eraser is a piece of melanin foam that contains a cleaning agent. It has abrasive pores meant to remove stains from surfaces like metal.

When you buy a Magic Eraser, check the wrapping or manufacturer guidelines to see if it’s safe to use on metal.

For example, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Original is indicated as an efficient removal of stubborn marker and crayon marks by the manufacturer.

Use the wet-squeeze-wipe steps to remove Sharpie marks on metal with Magic eraser as explained below:

  1. Remove the Magic Eraser pad from the wrapping.
  2. Wet the Magic Eraser under a tap.
  3. Squeeze out the water.
  4. Rub the Magic Eraser on the metal surface with the permanent marker to erase. Your metal surface will regain its original sheen.

5. Use a Hand Sanitizer

A hand sanitizer will get rid of Sharpie marks on metal if it’s alcohol-based. According to the US Food and Drug Administration agency (FDA), hand sanitizers will have at least 60% alcohol, going by the CDC recommendation.

That’s enough alcohol concentration to refresh the ink in permanent markers, making it easier to wipe off.

We recommend the Solimo Hand Sanitizer which has a 62% ethyl alcohol concentration.

Here’s how to remove the permanent marker with hand sanitizer:

  1. Cover the affected area with hand sanitizer and leave it for half a minute.
  2. Gently rub the area with a soft clean cloth to remove the permanent marker.
  3. Repeat if needed until your metal surface is clear of the Sharpie mark.

6. Use an Aerosol Hairspray

Aerosol hairsprays contain components of alcohol such as denatured alcohol and polyvinyl alcohol. These components work to break down permanent marker ink chemicals.

You don’t have to order hairspray just to remove Sharpie marks on a metal surface. However, if you already have it, it’s an ideal option for the job.

To remove permanent marker from metal with hairspray:

  1. Put the hairspray onto a soft, clean cloth.
  2. Rub the hairspray on the Sharpie stain.
  3. Repeat until the permanent marker is gone.

7. Apply Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover has acetone, a solvent that breaks down other substances such as paint, grease, and nail polish.

Like alcohol, acetone (also known as propanone) evaporates quickly, making it safe to use on metal and other surfaces.

If you opt for nail polish remover to get rid of permanent marker, go for Pronto 100% Pure Acetone from Amazon for best results. The natural formula is fast and super effective in getting rid of the toughest marks.

To remove Sharpie marks with nail polish remover:

  1. Dampen a piece of cotton or soft cloth with a bit of nail polish remover.
  2. Rub the permanent marker with the nail polish remover to clean the stain.
  3. Repeat as needed until the stain is all gone.

8. Use WD-40

The American brand is one of the most efficient water-displacing sprays you can use to get rid of Sharpie on metal, especially as a penetrant. Besides, it works as a corrosion inhibitor.

We recommend the spraying type like the WD-40 which comes with a two-way smart straw spray.

To remove a Sharpie mark on metal using, perform these two simple steps:

  1. Flip the two-way dispensing straw up or down and spray the required amount of WD-40 on the Sharpie mark.
  2. Rub the area with a clean cloth. The Sharpie mark will disappear without leaving a mark.

9. Use Bleach, Pencil Eraser, or Sunscreen

Other options you can consider to remove permanent marker on metal include:

  • Bleach: If you use bleach, ensure that the metal is bleach-safe or test a small part before proceeding with the entire stained area.
  • Pencil eraser: You can use this particularly on smooth stainless steel metal.
  • Sunscreen: You can use sunscreen to remove Sharpie marks on metal, especially the type that presents as clear liquid.

Final Thoughts

A permanent marker on metal doesn’t have to be a permanent headache when it’s time for you to get rid of it.

If you have Sharpie marks on metal, whether by accident or by intention, use any of the permanent marker removal methods mentioned in the article like applying isopropyl alcohol or nail polish remover, using a dry-erase marker, or improvising with toothpaste.

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