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. eduardo says:

    Perfeiro ,obrigado

  2. 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?

  3. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ Welcome to The Art of Doing Stuff! ~ karen

  4. 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!!

  5. 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

  6. 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…

  7. 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

  8. Char says:

    this just saved my life!!!

  9. Carl Buick says:

    I’ve noticed that water and sharpie ink don’t mix. That being saidโ€ฆrubbing 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.

  10. Vy says:

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

  11. Amykate says:

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

  12. Bonnie Ames says:

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

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    I think you should run for President since you CAN
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  14. Bleu Jay Lady says:

    I also have two more ways to help in Sharpie revival:

    1.) (This first trick is for a fading Sharpie, NOT a dead Sharpie.) You may want to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Take the cap off a standard Sharpie. using a pliers and only enough pressure to remove it, take off the color-coded part with the tip on it, (or the color-coded end off a fine-tip Sharpie). Gently tap the Sharpie on a PROTECTED hard surface until the filler comes out. Flip it around and put it back into the barrel. Replace the barrel/end, pushing FIRMLY until it clicks back into place. Use the brain God gave you, DON’T mash the tip of the marker on the table to make the barrel click back into place!! Place the marker tip-side-down for a few days, it should help!

    2. DO NOT do this next with a retractable Sharpie!!! I have blue spots on my ceiling as proof positive! It’s also probably best done outside anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    OK, take some strong tape or use a small, strong rubber band, and a piece of string a couple feet long. Tape or band the string securely onto the end opposite the tip of the Sharpie. Begin a slow spin in a circle, give it two or three FAST spins then stop. If you give anymore than that, the ink will flow into the cap, wasting all your ink.

    if you do all three tricks at the same time, you should have a “good as new” Sharpie in very little time.


  15. Bleu Jay Lady says:

    Ahhhhh HAA!!! I might know what the anal-orifice challenged people did that got their knickers in a twist! (or their panties in a wad, same thing) I’d be willing to bet a buck that they left the Sharpie tip IN THE ALCOHOL for the WHOLE 15 minutes!!!

    If so, that’s what happens when you don’t. follow. directions.

  16. Micky says:


    I had borrowed a Sharpie or two (Neon, of course:)) from my friend for a school project and WHADDYA KNOW, they dry out on me. ๐Ÿ˜›

    This saved a lot of Sharpies from the trash, let me tell you.

    But now I’m waiting on the Sharpies… three more mins… then I shall attempt usage again….
    dun dun dunnnnn……….. -three minutes pass-


  17. Becky says:

    There’s ABSOLUTELY NOTHING wrong with refusing to buy another…insert name of product here…in this case a Sharpie. I just pulled four relatively expensive Roseart dual-tip metallic markers out of my drawer. For heaven sakes! All I wanted to do is mark some sewing machine needles so I wouldn’t have to give my son another opportunity to heckle me for needing him to read the teeny tiny numbers on the shaft. Anyway, I needed a fine tipped marker.

    I can admit I only use them about twice a year, but that’s not the point. If you’re like me, and have grandparents that survived the Depression, the mantra, “Waste not, want not” is permanently emblazoned in your DNA. My grandmother could make a ham bone last a year…no kidding. I’ve been known to go to great lengths to try to fix the silliest things, and have no shame in doing so.

    THANK YOU for your very humorous tip, I feel much better about messing with these stupid markers for the past hour. ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. pynk says:

    Love love LOVE your solution to revive dry sharpies……And a few good chuckles and laughs along the way…..Just an FYI, bug spray also takes off permanent markers on non poress surfaces, found out by fluke……Lol……

  19. Gabie says:

    This didnt work at all it made my black sharpe purple and my red pink

  20. Dez says:

    What if it’s a thick sharpie marker? One of the fine point ones? What happens when you do that?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dez. It’ll still work. The only ones it wouldn’t work on are the oil based Sharpie paint pens. Keep in mind if the Sharpie has dried out too much it won’t work no matter what the tip. Most can be revived though. ~ karen!

  21. Rhi says:

    Thank you so much for this, you saved me from getting a detention.

  22. craig says:

    Karen- thanks for the info, your advice had a 50% success rate on my dried up things. I loved reading all the the comments left. I was hoping the sphincter challenged man would leave his address so we could all send him a “$3 bill” You have a great sense of humor but I would pass on the internal rats thing, go ahead give stand up comedy a try- you seem to be well equipped at writing it.

  23. Julie says:

    Being the overachiever that I am, I decided to enroll in a Geometry course over the summer. I had to learn pretty much a year’s worth of geometry in, oh, 2 months. During that period of time, I took LOTS of notes… so I decided to get myself some new fancy sharpie pens ( yes pens… they don’t bleed through like regular sharpies) to help the process. About halfway through, I uncapped my favorite pen and began to write… almost. There was just a weird, dried out scratch in the paper. I quickly went and googled how to get sharpies working, found your site, and tried to revive it ( the sharpie). after 30 seconds of dipping, I decided to give up because the ink wasn’t coming out. I capped the pen and went in search of another. 10 minutes later, I decided to just see if it had worked, and VICTORY! good as new. Just letting you know it works with sharpie pens too. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  25. Glenn Fonda says:

    Sharpie was dry, sharpie was dry
    Alcohol came
    Vast clouds upon the mountain
    A ghost of a goose
    Fell upon my face
    I drew him with a fixed

  26. grammyk says:

    I just finished a DELIGHTFUL time reading all the comments! Thank you all. I wanted to go get my Sharpies and start dunking ’em, but I couldn’t tear myself away from the posts. What a wonderful gift to my day! (I like !!’s) Best to you all, I’m off to collect all the Sharpies………….. ^_^

  27. goat says:

    w-wheres the piece of paper she faintly drew the first mark on? She didn’t just THROW IT AWAY without using it…. did she? D:

  28. Tati says:

    I bought them a week ago and now my black is dried up

  29. Tati says:

    I tried with water… Then alcohol… None worked I’m sooo sad

  30. Tati says:

    Will this work for paper mate flairs???

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid I have no idea Tati. Sorry, lol! However, if the paper mate is already on its last legs, you might as well try it! And report back. ๐Ÿ™‚ ~ karen

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  32. krista says:

    It works!! I found that nail polish remover works better.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Daryl says:

    Well I was quite successful soaking my sharpie in gin, unfortunately it created another problem. The Sharpie Was no longer able to write a straight line until I gave it some strong black coffee.
    Here is one to ponder, if you put just one drop of alcohol in the cap of the Sharpie after you are done using it, will that keep it from drying out in the first place?

    • Karen says:

      Hah! I have no idea about your keeping the Sharpie semi-looped all of the time, but it seems like a possibility to me. My concern is that alcohol evaporates pretty quickly. But what do I know. I’ve been known to be wrong. ~ karen!

    • Bleu Jay Lady says:

      LOVE this post! Love it, love it, LOVE it!! My Sharpie staggered a crooked line in support of it ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Kim says:

    Chuckling over the “you ruined my Sharpie” comments. If they were already dried out, then they were already ruined. If they weren’t already dried out, what the heck were they trying this on them for??? People amaze me, they really do. Great tip! Thank you.

  35. Sara says:

    Can you please do a post on how to remove a sharpie from a white couch?

  36. Susan says:

    You’re sounding sassy and spunky and happy, so I think the vacation worked! I’m sure I’ve got a dead Sharpie around here somewhere to experiment on. Thanks for the info on how to maybe fix it!

  37. Crayziladybug says:

    And the sharpie butthole was a total hoot…wait….yeah! HA!

  38. Crayziladybug says:

    What I think is so cool is that you are still getting comments on this trick! Not that it’s not a great tip, but really! Posted Feb. 14, 2011 and it’s now Feb. 16, 2014….Now THAT’S amazing!!

  39. its just me says:

    thank you so much!!!! you just saved my sharpie and my life while I’m doing a project for school. I’m 11 ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Bleu Jay Lady says:

      its just me,

      I wish I’d read this page a year ago, but the sentiment still holds true today ๐Ÿ™‚ . I commend you for looking up how to FIX a sharpie as opposed to DEMANDING your parents get another one! (or, ๐Ÿ˜‰ did you already try that route and they said, “I am NOT running out to Wallies at 11:00 at night for a Sharpie! You’ll just have to make do with what you have!”) Either way, keep up the good work and you will go far in life. I feel that those who FIX things are much more intelligent than those that ONLY buy things to replace the broken/non-functional.

  40. Your trick to fix a dried out sharpie didn’t even work. it ruined my favorite sharpie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  41. John 760 says:

    I rarely leave comments on forums but this was just too good. I’m letting the marker sit as we speak. I couldn’t believe how fast the alcohol drew the ink out. Great technique and one the best DIY fixes I’ve seen yet.

    On a side note thanks for setting up your page so that posting comments is a straightforward process.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks John. And I know what you mean. I hate it when commenting is a pain. Glad your Sharpie wasn’t too far gone to fix. ~ karen!

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