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. Allie Versluys says:

    That’s bull, I just wasted 15 minutes waiting for nothing to happen

    • Karen says:

      Allie – Yeah, um, it’s not bull. You, as I mentioned in the post, had a Sharpie that was beyond repair. ~ karen

      • Sheena McGuire says:

        You’re my hero!!🤣
        I just bought a retractable sharpie a few weeks ago and I hardly use it bc i ha e to justify writing w anything that cost over a dollar. 🤷‍♀️ I have no idea why…I was writing a lunch box joke on an index for my son the other morning when it started acting like it was drying out. It felt strange writing w it as if it had build up on it already or something. So I’m going to try this. And if it doesn’t work I’ll know it’s just “too far gone”. Or maybe you really are out to destroy ppl my giving them fake solutions to sharpies 🤦‍♀️ Happy holidays.

  2. Vicky says:

    I’d really like to know what the gorgeous shape is that you are using to test the pen? and where you got it?

  3. That was a good read. I loved the way you wrote that…very cute and informative.

    Thanks for taking the time to share this with us (our company has thrown out about 20+ permanent markers in the past couple of months; they are relatively new!).

    No kidding, there’s two in the waste basket next to me and if I check the umpteen trash cans around our building I’m sure to see more of these new markers that fail to make their mark.

    Whew…it’s people like you that keep corporate fascism/profiteering/mass manipulation via the media, curriculum, etc. to a minimum.

    Now THIS is news I can use!

    Thanks again.

    Thanks again.

  4. courtney says:

    works great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Pati Gulat says:

    So, Karen,you ruined his sharpie butthole….what was he doing with a sharpie butthole to begin with ??? LOLOLOL !

  6. Matt says:

    You ruined my Sharpie, asshole.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Matt – Well, #1 I’m a girl. Generally speaking you wouldn’t call a girl an asshole. Maybe bitch would be better for you. #2. If you were trying to fix your Sharpie chances are it was ruined to begin with. #3. If you’re so hard up that a wonky Sharpie is enough to send you into fits of swearing at a perfect stranger that was only trying to help you out (clearly you did something wrong, which is a horrifying thought since this was such a simple task) then I will send you the $3 to buy yourself a new Sharpie. All I need from you is your address. ~ karen

      • Linda says:

        Normally I would respond to a person like that by calling him a “tool”. He’s too much of a simpleton to be granted the honor of being called a tool….Obviously he doesn’t know how to use his tool….he’s a little short on know how in that department…. ;-)

        • Doug Waldron says:

          On the grounds that two wrongs still don’t make a right, making a scene out of something so meaningless is simply wrong. Matt you may want to see someone about that bad attitude because it certainly can’t be a failed attempt to revive an old sharpie. Karen keep up the good work. I like to learn new stuff all the time and you are doing a fine job in my books. Stay safe!

        • Karen says:

          Thanks Doug, lol. :) ~ karen!

  7. David B says:

    I came here looking for a fix for my dry high-lighters. I had tried just plain water before and it didn’t work very well. I had a flash of incite and thought maybe what I needed was an emulsifier. I put 2 drops of dish washing liquid in about an ounce of water stirred it around gently so it wouldn’t foam up and tried that instead of just plain water. Worked great right off the bat. The soap helps devolve (emulsifies) the ink into the water . I think it will take a few treatment to get the moisture up into the reservoir of dried ink to really repair it though.

  8. Jenn k says:

    Lol no I work in a book warehouse we have to mark books if they are damaged for resale.

  9. Jenn k says:

    I will have to try this with my backup markers I use at work. I buy thedollar tree permanent markers as we go though marker every 2 to 3 days. This may help get another day or 2 of use out of them.

  10. Kathleen says:

    any idea if metallic sharpies work the same way?

  11. Theo says:

    will this work with gin?

  12. GJD says:

    For about 20 years I use a needle and a syringe to sloooowly soak the innards of water-base calligraphic pens. This I did, and I still do several times. Lately, the ink gets lighter, sure… watered, flushed to the utmost.
    But it is still good for Christmas cards.

    As for the fountain pens with cartridges, I do the same, for about 10 years now. So I buy cheap ink in a bottle (please send me yours, unused…) and write with about 5 pens. Each with different color, naturally. This helps me with differentiation of entries in my business notebook (I use computer Word file as well, sure…). Notebook does not need battery, the only thing is to keep it out of water or fire.

    Regarding other markers, I use alcohol as well. While typing this I think about using a special diluter for certain stamp inks, which stick to any surface.
    Than I may tinker with more decisive solvents.
    Stanford, Markall and other manufacturers should divulge chemicals they use – if clearly asked.

  13. Sara says:

    I’m an elementary art teacher who is constantly spending my own money on about a billion sharpies a year just to watch them dry out after about two class uses. I’m so going to try this right now! Does it work for
    colored sharpies too?

  14. dicobalt says:

    I wonder if this works for dry erase markers? You know the kind used on white boards?

  15. Anonna says:

    Now, can you revive a glue stick? I hate buying a glue stick, opening it up and finding out that it’s dried and hard and no longer a glue stick and is —

    — just a stick.

  16. Lilly says:

    Is that a pad of paper you’re writing on? If it is, I want one. Where dya get it?

    • Karen says:

      Lilly – It *is* a pad of paper. It’s the “Mighty Morph Pad”. A Canadian product. Google it to see if it’s available around you. Basically you can twist and move and wiggle it into any shape you want. ~karen!

  17. Katie says:

    GENIUS! I think I just fell in love with you… thank you for solving all the worlds problems. It seems to always be alcohol that does it, lol. :)

  18. Rebecca says:

    Nope, it’s dead again! Oh well, worth a shot!

    • Karen says:

      Rebecca – LOL. You can try it again. Sometimes it takes a couple of shots to work. ~ karen

      • DLT II says:

        ‘Sometimes it takes a couple of shots to work” – This is true of many things.

        Thanks for the tip – we used to do this with our ginormous chisel tip markers in middle and high school – We didn’t have extra fine tip sharpies back then.

  19. Rebecca says:

    Thank you. You just saved my highlighter! I need it for work, and it’s the only one I have right now! I can’t believe I actually remembered this post!

  20. Stacey says:

    You were just featured on the Sharpie Facebook feed! I love it when my internet worlds collide!

    • Pam'a says:

      That’s very cool, and kind of weird, when I think about it– Wouldn’t the Sharpie people prefer that everyone just keep throwing the dried-out ones across the room so we’ll buy more new ones?


    • Kim Doyle says:

      lolololol Stacey :)

  21. Whitney says:

    Thanks so much for posting this! I just reposted your tips onto the Sharpie blog ( – giving you 100% of the credit of course :)

    Great work. Love your blog!

  22. Chris Graham says:

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

  23. 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!

    • 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!

    • Alissa says:

      Also, hair spray will remove Sharpie! I had a teacher who was always accidentally writing on the overhead projector with Sharpies, and it was the 80s so everyone carried hairspray. I guess in the 2000s everyone carries Purell now, though. :)

      • Karen says:

        Alissa – Actually, hairspray doesn’t work! Sorry, I had to say that. I experimented with a few things on my wall, and hair spray definitely did NOT work. It might work for removing Sharpie from a slippery surface, but not on anything else. EEP. Just warning people before they make a mess of their walls, LOL. ~ karen

  24. 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.

  25. 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)?

    • 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

    • 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.

    • Karen says:

      Melissa/Pam’a – Be careful with the tapping. The reason I didn’t mention tapping is because gel pens apparently have a “delicate” mechanism. People are advised against tapping them. I’d try the flame first (good idea to melt the gel ink and get it going) and resort to tapping the ball last just so you don’t completely ruin the pen. Although I guess that doesn’t really matter since it’s broken anyway … Uch. Do whatever you want. :) ~ karen

      • Pam'a says:

        I haven’t had a gel pen turn on me yet, but like you said, at that point it’s kind of moot. No matter what happens, it can’t hold a candle to my fifth grade mortification when, after idly sucking on the end of my Bic pen, it decided to fwoosh out the end and into my mouth, and on my face…and onto the dress I had on for picture day. :(

        • OMG, that made me LOL. I am usually so senditive to others. So tell me, did that experience kill you or make you stronger?

        • Pam'a says:

          It was one of those things that seemed like the end of the world at the time, but blessedly faded away eventually. My teacher was a champ and totally downplayed it, which helped.

      • Suelyn Vincent says:

        With gel pens I have laid many to rest, but a few we have been able to revive by pulling out the point with its attached ink and rolling it in your hands to kind of warm it up, then to get the ball rolling either try writing on the cardboard back of a notepad- or on the flat rubber part of an old tennis shoe, (I don’t know why that works- other than the rubber wants to “grip” the pens roller but my mom taught me that trick and it works on any ballpoint).

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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!

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. Lita says:

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

  33. Jessi says:

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

  34. 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!

  35. Heather says:

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

  36. 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

  37. 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*

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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

  41. Ginger says:

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

  42. 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!) :)

  43. 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 🚪

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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?

  47. 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?

    • 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

  48. Sarah B says:

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

  49. 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.

  50. 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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