How to remove Sharpie from plastic – four simple ways to stay stain-free

TikTok user shows off baking soda hack for cleaning headlights

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Renowned for their thick felt tips and wide range of colours, these pens are a household staple for adults and kids across the country but what happens when you use these permanent pens incorrectly? Cleaning up your Sharpie mistakes is easier than you may think with these simple hacks to get the marker off your plastic.

Whether you’ve misspelt a word on a label or your child has discovered the fun of Sharpies on their plastic furniture, there are so many ways you can make those permanent marker stains go away.

Tea Tree

Whilst this herbal remedy is more commonly known for its skin care benefits it is also a great stain remover for plastic.

Rather than dissolving the stain like high-alcohol products, this natural oil acts as a softener on the stain and slowly fades it away to remove the stain completely.

Apply tea tree oil with a small cotton bud and rub into the stain then wipe the area with a paper towel, repeating these two steps until the stain is completely gone.
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Baking soda paste

This hack requires just two household ingredients from your kitchen and bathroom to make up an effective and abrasive paste.

Toothpaste and baking soda are both well known ingredients in the cleaning world and this DIY paste is the perfect mix of the two.

Applying this paste is easy and is a great way to clear off Sharpie marks from plastic objects and surfaces without melting the polymers.

Mix the two ingredients in an equal ratio 1:1 until it reaches a thick white paste consistency.

Take an old toothbrush and dampen it before applying the paste in a circular motion over the Sharpie stain, repeating until the stains disappear.

Wash the remaining paste off with warm water using a cloth to lightly dab the debris away.

Hand sanitiser

This one is great if you’re on the move and have a permanent marker-mishap.

Hand sanitiser has been readily available in most shops and restaurants since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with most people carrying their own as well, so you’re in luck if you get caught short in a Sharpie crisis.

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The high alcohol content in hand gel makes it useful for dissolving marker stains off of plastic items like dolls, phone cases and plastic containers.

However, the strength of this high alcohol solvent is strong enough to end up melting plastic too because the chemicals are so strong that they clash with the polymer composition of plastic.

For this reason use in very small doses to lightly rub the stain off using a cotton-bud or small cloth to do so.


This versatile can of liquid can be used for more than just your hair as it is a great stain remover.

Whether you’ve got a Sharpie stain on your clothes, skin or plastic objects, be sure to try this hack to help dissolve the permanent marker away.

The way this hack works is by fading the stain using the alcohol content of the hairspray.

All you need to do is spray the affected surface and lightly scrub as the stains start to fade.

Repeat as necessary to clean up all of those pesky permanent marker stains.

If the stain you’re dealing with is particularly stubborn and you don’t mind melting the plastic a little to get it off, be sure to try out these household products if you’re searching for some DIY hacks:

  • WD-40
  • Nail polish remover
  • Rubbing alcohol

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