How to Fix a Dried Out Sharpie

I made a great big batch of Chili the other day and preserved it in my pressure canner.  That is what I did, because I do things like that.

Then, I went to an office supply store to buy some labels for my newly jarred chili.  This is what I did, because I do things like that.

While at the office supply store, I walked right past the aisle filled with Sharpies and thought to myself “Huh, my Sharpie’s all dried out.  I should probably buy another one, ’cause I’ll need it to write my labels.” And then it seemed like the biggest ordeal and expense in the world to buy a Sharpie, so I left the store without one even though I knew the one I had at home was dried up and I really needed to buy one.  That is what I did, because I do things like that.  All the time.

So when I got home I checked to see if the Sharpie Fairy had visited me, and indeed she had not.  My Sharpie was still as dried up as it was the last time I tried to use it.  It was not self-lubricating as I had hoped.

So I did this ….

Checked one last time to see if my Sharpie tip was still dried out.

(it’s usually the tip that’s dried out, not the ink that’s gone)

It was.  Dried out I mean.

Grabbed a bottle of Rubbing Alcohol.

Poured some into the cap.

Dipped the tip of the Sharpie into the cap filled with Rubbing Alcohol.

I left it  until I could see a bit of ink swirling out.

I put the cap back on the Sharpie and left it for 15 minutes.

Pulled my cap off and tried again.

That is what I did, because I do things like that.  All the time.

This trick will not revive allllll markers. Sometimes, some things are just too far gone to be revived with a little bit of alcohol.
(For a non permanent marker do the same thing but use water)

You might also be interested in my How to Remove Sharpie from Walls post.


  1. V says:

    I’m not gonna lie, I think this is pretty genius! Now I know what to do with all the pens I’ve swiped from work…

  2. Laura says:

    You are brilliant. Those suckers are expensive, too. I have the sharpies with the retractable tips. That helps but sometimes they still get left open and dry right up.

  3. Sarah B says:

    Whooooa. I really want to find a dried up Sharpie now so I can try this!!

  4. Helen says:

    forget the cool sharpie trick – I am DIGGING your nails Karen!

  5. Helen says:

    And thinking about it now, your nails are almost looking like the perfect blank canvas to draw alittle something on. Maybe, with a fine tip Sharpie…

  6. Karen says:

    Helen – Thanks! Yup. I’m into white now. This particular shade is white, made by Joe Fresh. $4. I also bought a bottle of $4 matte topcoat today. So now my shiny white nails, are matte white nails. I never thought I’d ever wear white nailpolish with my ugly manhands, but I love it! Makes me feel fresh and clean. Like I’m in a panty liner commercial. ~ karen

  7. I’m glad you write this blog. ‘Cause that’s what you do. I’ve got kids. I’ve got dried out Sharpies. I’ve got rubbing alcohol. Guess what I’m gonna do?

  8. Debbie Doodles says:

    You are a hoot! Thanks for the tips! On my Sharpies I mean. So excited about being able to bring my Sharpies back to life.

  9. marilyn says:

    wow good thing alcohol doesnt dry up that bottle has a price sticker on it! how long has that been around! lol good trick with the sharpie.

  10. Beth says:

    Karen – I’m thinking you ought to try stand-up comedy as your new line of work! I’d pay good money to come laugh at (with) you!!

  11. Todd says:

    “Makes me feel fresh and clean. Like I’m in a panty liner commercial” Great, I just spit coffee on my LCD. Got any tips for getting that clean?

  12. Eva says:

    Hey, you just saved my business a ton of money! We use Sharpies all time to label thousands of things, and the minions are “always” leaving the caps off! They each get their own bottle of rubbing alcohol now (cause we treat them that well!) 🙂

  13. Ginger says:

    This is great! I must be a Sharpie, because, I too, can be “revived” with alcohol.

  14. Tiana says:

    When I was a kid I would pull the backs off my crayola markers and put in a few drops of water to get them going again. This is mostly because my parents were super cheap and I knew it would be ages before they would buy me a new set.

    They never even knew, lucky bastards!

  15. Dana says:

    i sat here for almost 3 minutes trying to figure out what kind of statue you’re testing your sharpies on. until i realized it’s just an out of the ordinary notepad. because you do things like that.

  16. Melanie says:

    When we were in elementary school we used to suck the markers until they would start working again. There was usually at least one kid with a blue mouth! When I saw the title- I was hoping this was your technique.

  17. Christina says:

    Genius! And I agree, the white nails are lovely. I wish I could wear nail polish but one of my jobs requires me to occasionally handle food products and therefore no chippy nail polish for me. 🙁 And I have nice nails too! *pouts*

  18. You know what I love more than using a sharpie? Using a REVIVED sharpie. I’m going to throw a sharpie-revival party for myself tomorrow.

    Kudos for so many great tips 🙂

    *Tania @

  19. Heather says:

    WoW too cool!!! I have a few Sharpie pens that I need to try this with, thanks for the tip!

  20. Jen A says:

    “Sometimes, some things are just too far gone to be revived with a little bit of alcohol”

    Ain’t that the truth!

  21. Karen says:

    Beth – I’ve had that suggested to me before. Thanks for the compliment. But I’d rather let an angry rat live in my uterus. Nooooooooo thanks. 🙂 ~ karen

  22. Karen says:

    Sorry ’bout that Todd. But seriously … those commercials are ridiculous. ~ karen 🙂

  23. Karen says:

    Eva – You’re a good boss. 🙂 ~ karen

  24. Karen says:

    Tiana – I think beyond 10 or 15 years ago, every parent was that cheap. I remember going out for dinner (like once or twice my entire childhood) and not being allowed to order a beverage! Water only. ~ karen

  25. Karen says:

    Dana – Yup. Just a notepad. I love my swirly notepad. You can bend it to whatever shape you want! ~ karen

  26. Jessi says:

    Dang! You’re a genius! Now I gotta go gather all my dried up Sharpies and give it a try!! Amazing!

  27. Karen says:

    Melanie ~ HAHAHAH! I remember that kid! 🙂 ~ karen

  28. Karen says:

    Christina – I’m jealous of your nice nails. I do NOT have nice nails. ~ karen

  29. Karen says:

    Tania – Thanks! I hope the Sharpie party works out for you! Remember, there are a few Sharpies that are too far gone to be revived. ~ karen

  30. Karen says:

    Jen – Oh … you bet it’s true! 😉 ~ karen

  31. Lita says:

    I can’t believe that you only own one sharpie.

  32. Amy says:

    Genius! Pure Genius!

    My son can’t seem to remember to put the cap back on the Sharpies. I am forever having to replace our supply. I am definitely going to give this a try.

  33. Karen says:

    Lita – Ah ha. Only one *Fine Tip Sharpie*. 🙂 ~ karen

  34. Ran says:

    Oh this is just brilliant! It also works very well. I do not know why I have rubbing alcohol at work but I do, and we have a large supply of sharpies that have dried up yet we still keep them at our desks and then become angry when they no longer work.

    Unfortunately this trick did not work on our highlighters. I request a highlighter reviver tip next!

  35. Evalyn says:

    Can’t help but mention that the white nail polish bears a likeness to White-out. Just sayin’, because I’m a fool for office supplies.

    You need to start buying your rubbing alcohol at the Dollar Store!

    “some things are just too far gone to be revived with a little bit of alcohol.” Gospel.

  36. blake says:

    your timing is flippy delicious…working on a floorplan for a client yesterday I was throwing Sharpies across the studio because every one I pulled out of the old soup can I keep them in were dried out…We all must have known, somehow, that someday we would have a tip for fixing dead, dried Sharpies…why else would we keep them close?…hmmmphhf!

    I adore you!

  37. Karen says:

    Evalyn – I know! You should see it now that I’ve put a coat of Matte finish on it. Total white out! 🙂 ~ karen

  38. Stephanie says:


    Have you ever bought the 12 lb box of sharpies and assorted pens on Woot? I got a bazillion Sharpies for less than $10 and I brag about it every chance I get!

  39. Ana says:

    When I was little, we would open dried up markers and put a few drops of vinegar in the felty part. They smelled like vinegar but they worked!

  40. Melissa says:

    I realise you, and most (all !?) of your readers are far too sophisticated and modern to still use gel pens… but let’s just say someone wasn’t… and still had some… and they kept dying when there WAS STILL INK IN THE PEN!!!!!!! what would one do about that(hypothetically, of course)?

  41. Karen says:

    Stephanie – What is this Woot? ~ karen

  42. Karen says:

    Melissa – Hah! I have no idea how to fix one of these “gel pens” you speak of. However, I looked it up and apparently there’s not a whole lot you can do. The ink dries up quickly in those suckers. The only advice I found was to roll the ball over and over and over again until it starts to roll and pick up ink again. ?? Worth a shot I suppose! ~ karen

  43. Nicole says:

    Karen, I’m amazed. Not because you’ve done something very clever but oh so simple yet AGAIN, but 1) because you only have one sharpie in your house, and 2) because you’ve had it long enough for it to dry out!

    Clearly you and I have different lives but I like the peek into yours.

  44. Karen says:

    Nicole – One “fine tip” Sharpie. 😉 ~ karen

  45. Sandra says:

    Love your stuff! Thanks for the great ideas & giggles along the way.

    On a Sharpie related point ~ do you know that hand sanitizer will take Sharpie off hard surfaces?(except purple – that one’s alittle tougher to get off) One of the coolest things I have learned as a preschool teacher! Laminate counter tops & desktops are sharpie-free in my classroom!

  46. Karen says:

    Sandra – Thanks so much! I had heard that tip but I’ve never tried it! Maybe I’ll do a little comparison with my usual remedy. I did a post several months ago on how to remove Sharpie from a pure white wall. Great results! ~ karen!

  47. Can I use tequila to bring back my sharpie’s mojo?

  48. Karen says:

    Chris – Duh. ~ karen

  49. Pam'a says:

    Come sit by me, gel pen sistah. I hate that too. I have had *some* success with tap-tapping the point on a hard surface a bit until the ink is forced down. If that doesn’t work, I try holding the tip near (not IN) a flame for just long enough to heat it a bit, then tapping it.

    Swearing doesn’t seem to work, but does make me feel better.

  50. cred says:

    Hilarious, Ginger! pretty sure you’re not the only Sharpie in the drawer.

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