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.


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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. Lita says:

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

  8. Jessi says:

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

  9. 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!

  10. Heather says:

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

  11. 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 @

    • 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

  12. 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*

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

    • 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

  16. Ginger says:

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

  17. 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!) :)

  18. 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!!

    • 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

      • Kristin Hines says:

        I no longer have a Uterus (hysterectomy in a sing songy voice) but after housing a child rent free, for 9 long months and monthly “pathological visitors for 52 years your description reminded me how women ALWAYS get the “very short and dried up end of the Sharpe/stick!!!!!!

    • Kristin Hines says:

      Because that’s just what she does. Can you say “stalker”? RUN 🏃 🏃 VERY QUICKLY TO THE EXIT OF THE BUILDING 🚪

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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?

  22. Helen says:

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

    • 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…

    • 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

      • 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?

      • Karen says:

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

    • bob z says:

      i bought ultra fine sharpies to put a logo on my balls,,,golf balls that is,,,,but now with all this nail talk, i’m not sure how i’ll use them

  23. Sarah B says:

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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…

    • Leann says:

      SOMETIMES you can heat them reakky fast with a lighter and they’ll write again…

    • tammy noack says:

      rather than letting the alcohol evaporate from the open cap why not just put some rubbing alcohol in the sharpie’s cap and leave it inverted ’til next time you need it ?, that way it’s not a race between the sharpie and the atmosphere to absorb the alcohol

    • Mark says:

      I tried your solution, and it didn’t work, so I tried some whiteboard “Expo” cleaner, and soaked the tip in that for about 10 seconds. then made circular loops on paper for another 30 seconds,, and WOWOW! it started working! I tried it on a couple others and great! now I don’t have to toss any of them away!!! wahoo!

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