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. margaret says:

    Felt pens don’t all use the same solvent. I have had luck renewing some by soaking in methyl hydrate, but I’m pleased to have another option to check out. And yeah, sometimes they’re too far gone to salvage. Also true for ball point pens; I’ve discovered eventually the ink in the tube coagulates, and no amount of soaking the tip in anything will fix it. (Which is not to say the ink won’t still be unsolid enough to make a hell of a mess if you cut the tube in half; trust me…)

  2. eduardo says:

    Perfeiro ,obrigado

  3. Chuck Pelto says:

    RE: Silver Sharpie Makers

    This technique doesn’t work with the SILVER variety of Sharpies.

    Does anyone know of how to get that type to work properly again?

  4. Pushy Phoenix says:

    OMG. You’re well-spoken, creative, witty, solution-seeking, freaking hilarious, and *Canadian*!?

    How has this place of yours eluded me in all my internet travels till now? I may be in maker-love. Or at least maker-lust. Guaranteed several hours of my life are about to be spent digging into your archives, giggling madly, soaking up bits of useful knowledge while saving links like crazy!

    But first, to stop by that Gravatar site as the points you made in the entry about user pictures are…are…um, they’re right on point.

    Oh, specific to the Sharpie topic: Although it’s not what I was looking for, you and your commenters’ve just saved me and my co-workers a heck of a lot of grief. We all use thick sharpies at work and they’re uncapped much of the time so dry out far too quickly – now we’ve got a solution!

    And rubbing alcohol is something I never let run out, there are little bottles of it all over the house because it does so many things. Here’s one more for the list.

    Thank you for you!

    • Karen says:

      Wow. You can come by and comment any time you like Pushy Phoenix, lol. I’m feeling rather big headed now. :) Welcome to The Art of Doing Stuff! ~ karen

  5. Karen B says:

    Yippee!! This worked great with my ultra fine point sharpie markers! #NewLifeToOldStuff

    You ‘smell people’ will appreciate that I had mint scented alcohol to use for this. LOL!!

  6. Karen B says:

    For me, it’s not just about cost. I hate things being disposable, especially if they’re not really broken her dead, or if they CAN BErepaired, why would we throw them out?

    I already do the water washable marker rescuing with my classroom markers. Thank you for the tip,helping us to not be wasteful. It means a lot to me. ~ K

  7. Liv says:

    I’m definitely hoping that this will work! I use my black sharpies almost everyday and as high as prices are, I couldn’t get a new one! I’m crossing my fingers and letting them sit…

  8. Nathan says:

    If u don’t have any rubbing alcohol handy, u can also use nail polish remover to revive the dead sharpie. The results are amazing how the dry sharpie turns perfect after just dipping it in. Thanks for the amazing tip

  9. Char says:

    this just saved my life!!!

  10. Carl Buick says:

    I’ve noticed that water and sharpie ink don’t mix. That being said…rubbing alcohol is usually 70 pct alcohol and 30 pct water. Most places that sell rubbing alcohol also have 90 pct rubbing alcohol. I use it, figuring that it works better.

  11. Vy says:

    can i use acetone (nail polish remover)??? i don’t have rubbing alcohol atm

  12. Amykate says:

    Yea! How awesome that your page (that I already subscripe to) pops up as my go to Google answer! You rock Karen!

  13. Bonnie Ames says:

    Run for President since you are one of the few people’who
    can actually solve problems,
    That would be refreshing, huh?

  14. Bonnie Ames says:

    I think you should run for President since you CAN
    fix problems. you are what the US needs, along with Trump!

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