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How to Revive a Sharpie Marker? Easy Methods You Can Try!

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

how to revive a sharpie marker

Sharpie markers are extremely useful tools that can easily be found anywhere. However, they are prone to dry out quickly if left untouched for a long time or without a properly sealed cap.

I know it must be so frustrating when you need to use a Sharpie, but it doesn’t work. Normally, you would throw it away and buy a new one. However, your car is repaired today and you have no way to travel to the store.

In that case, don’t ditch the old Sharpie and try these methods to bring a Sharpie back to life. I will show you different methods on how to revive a Sharpie marker. Here is a list of what I will go through in this article:

  • Three Types of Sharpie Markers: There are three kinds of base for the Sharpie markers’ ink, including water-based, oil-based, and alcohol-based. It is vital that you know this information to decide on which method to revive Sharpie markers.
  • How To Know If My Sharpie Is Dried Out? You can smell your Sharpie or look at the color of the marker tip to see if it is possible to make a Sharpie work again. If it is out of ink, there is no way to fix it.
  • Revive Your Markers Using Rubbing Alcohol: This is the most common way to fix a dry Sharpie. All you need to do is to dip the marker tip directly into rubbing alcohol and let it absorb.
  • Methods That Don’t Involve Rubbing Alcohol: Soak the tip of your Sharpie marker into warm water for a few minutes and use a paper towel to remove any excess water. White vinegar can be used as another way to get a Sharpie to work again.

Are you excited to learn how to bring your beloved Sharpie marker back to life? Let’s get started with the first part!

3 Methods to Revive a Sharpie Marker

Method 1: Using Rubbing Alcohol


What You Need

Prepare some materials before you get started so the process will go smoothly. You will need a small container, such as a bottle cap, to pour some alcohol in. Rubbing alcohol with a concentration of at least 91% is a vital ingredient as well.

It doesn’t matter whether you use ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. Some paper towels are recommended to clean up afterward. In addition, conduct the step in an open space so the smell of evaporated alcohol can be released.



  • Place a piece of paper on the table and put the cap on top.
  • Pour a sufficient amount of alcohol into the bottle cap.
  • Remove the cap of your marker.
  • Soak the marker tip into alcohol and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Remove the marker from the cap and use a piece of paper to soak up any residual alcohol.
  • Put the cap back on and wait another hour so the alcohol can flow evenly through the marker.

You should be able to use your marker at this moment. If it still doesn’t work, you might want to repeat the steps and wait for a longer time so more alcohol is absorbed.

Methods That Don’t Involve Rubbing Alcohol

If your marker is not alcohol-based, you might want to try these methods instead. Here is how to fix a dried-out Sharpie without rubbing alcohol.

Method 2: Warm Water

This method works best for markers with water-based ink.


  • Boil some clean water and let it cool down for a few minutes.
  • Dip the tip of your marker into the water and let it sit for approximately 5 minutes. Refer to the steps in the previous section for more detailed instructions.
  • Take the marker out and use a paper towel to soak up any remaining water on the marker.

Method 2: White Vinegar


  • Pour a sufficient amount of white vinegar into a small container.
  • Dip the tip of your marker into the vinegar for a few seconds and remove it quickly. Do NOT let it soak too long as it will damage your marker.
  • Repeat the dipping step around 10 times.
  • Put the cap on and set the marker aside for a few hours before using it again.

Three Types of Sharpie Markers


Being able to identify which types of Sharpie markers you have is extremely important as it will help you decide on which products you should use to revive your markers. Here are the three categories of Sharpie ink you should know:

  • Oil-based Ink: As you can tell from its name, the main solvent in this type of ink is oil. Thus, it is less likely to be damaged by water and goes well on non-porous surfaces. Moreover, when an oil-based marker dries, it will become waterproof. Another advantage is that if you happen to leave the marker uncapped, it takes longer to totally dry.
  • Water-based Ink: Water is the primary solvent in the ink, so it won’t bleed through paper as much as other ink would. Furthermore, it is easier to clean up water-based Sharpie markers. You can find these markers in a variety of colors. Additionally, they last as long as six months if you store them properly.
  • Alcohol-based Ink: As mentioned above, this is the most widely used type of Sharpie marker due to its fast-drying ability as well as its capability of being written on multiple surfaces. However, you must be extremely careful with these markers as the ink evaporates quickly if you don’t put the cap on after usage.

Now that you have learned the different types of Sharpies, let’s move on to checking if your markers have run out of ink or if they can still be revived in some ways.

How to Know if My Sharpie Is Dried Out

The next step in the tutorial is to determine whether you can still save your marker or not. If your marker has run out of ink, you might have to get rid of it and purchase a new one. For those that are refillable, you can buy the refilling ink bottles.

On the other hand, if you notice that your markers still have some ink but are dried out, proceed to the following sections for methods to revive your Sharpie.

There are two ways to determine if there is still ink remaining in your marker. First of all, notice the color of the Sharpie marker tip. If it looks dark and vibrant, there is a high chance that your marker is only dried and you can save it.

The second method is to smell your Sharpie’s tip. If you notice a strong smell of plastic or chemicals, it is very likely that there is still ink and it needs some solvent to be usable again.

Nonetheless, if you are not sure about the signs, just give it a try at reviving the marker following the steps below.


So, that is everything you should know about how to revive a Sharpie marker. I think ways to revive alcohol based markers are also worth for you to refer. I hope you have found the technique that works for your markers. Let me know the result in the comment section. Share this article with your friends and family as well.

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