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Why Does Dry Erase Marker Remove Sharpie? How It Actually Works?

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

why does dry erase marker-remove-sharpie

While some people enjoy composing their drafts on a laptop, others prefer writing them down on a dry erase board. Nonetheless, sometimes by chance, we just use a Sharpie instead of a dry erase marker as we are delving into the sketch.

Well, do you know that dry erase markers remove permanent markers from a dry erase board? If so, have you ever tried the trick and found that it turned out amazing? Out of your own curiosity, you may wonder how on earth it could happen.

This article is made for you! We are going to give you the most comprehensive answer to “Why does dry erase marker remove Sharpie?” Continue reading to find out the real science behind this phenomenon!

What is Inside?


Markers, either permanent or dry erase, often consist of three main ingredients: a main carrier, colorant, and resin. We simply understand that a colorant gives our ink its color, which are usually pigments rather than dyes.

A carrier, also known as a solvent, must be able to evaporate quickly so the ink will stick on the surface. In the past, a carrier could be made from considerably toxic chemicals, such as toluene or xylene.

Yet, a carrier is mainly produced from alcohol-based substances these days. For example, 2-butoxyethanol or isopropyl alcohol as they are less hazardous than xylene and toluene. These types of alcohol can also be found in paint thinner products.

A resin, or sometimes referred to as a binder, helps the ink adhere to mostly any surfaces. While permanent markers contain an acrylic polymer that sinks into the surface, dry erase markers have an oily silicone polymer that is easy to remove from non-porous surfaces.

All ingredients combined in the right proportion will create the kind of markers we are looking for. Now that we know the chemicals inside our markers, let’s look into the science behind this trick.

The Science Behind the Trick


Removing any substances from a surface can be broken down into two categories: physically removing them or using a chemical reaction. In the circumstances of removing something physically, we can simply think of scraping it off a table or wall.

On the other hand, for the latter method, we will need a solvent. However, there are two terms in chemistry that you must understand before diving any deeper, which are “solute” and “solvent”.

A solute is a substance that has been dissolved, while a solvent is a substance, usually liquid, that dissolves the solute.

Various examples of a solute and solvent combined can be found around us. For instance, seawater consists of a solute – salt and a solvent – water. If you combine carbon dioxide – a solute – with water – a solvent, you will have soda pop.

That is exactly how our dry erase marker trick works – using a solvent to dissolve a solute.

Why Does Dry Erase Marker Remove Sharpie? How It Actually Works?

An alcohol solvent is precisely what dry erase markers contain. Hence, when we use dry erase markers to draw over permanent marker stains, we are providing a great amount of solvent without adding any more acrylic polymer to the surface.

To summarize the whole mechanism:

  • The permanent marker ink adheres to the surface.
  • You add more solvent to the stained area by drawing over the old permanent marker.
  • The solvent, which is alcohol, in our dry-erase marker dissolves the permanent marker underneath and mixes the two pigments together. Consequently, it allows us to wipe off the two parts at once.

To be more specific, the oily silicone polymer in dry erase markers bonds with the acrylic polymer in permanent markers really tight. Therefore, when it is wiped off, the silicone particles will drag the acrylic ones along with it.

Applying the same principles, we can look for other methods of removing permanent marker stains, such as using nail polish remover, vinegar, etc. These products also consist of solvents like acetone, benzene, turpentine, butanol, etc.


Being able to understand the science behind this trick not only satisfies our curiosity but also provides us with profound knowledge to choose a good method when dealing with Sharpie stains.

I hope this explanation has enlightened you about how science is applied in our daily lives. Let me know what you think in the comment section. If you like this article on why does dry erase marker remove Sharpie, share it with your friends and family as well.

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