How to Get Permanent Marker Off Car Exterior? (4 Ways)

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to get permanent marker off car exterior

If you park in public places, your car might become a victim of permanent marker vandalism. In this case, you would want to know how to get permanent marker off car exterior.

With the right tools and proper technique, you can erase the stains without hurting your car exterior. Check out the safe methods below to ensure all the annoying marker stains are gone for good.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Permanent Markers on Car Exterior

Option #1 - Using Whole Milk


This might come as a surprise, but whole milk is actually a great option for permanent marker removal on cars. You do not have to worry about it causing damage or corroding the exteriors of your car.

What you will need to have:

  • Whole milk
  • A bowl or similar container
  • A cotton cloth
  • A terry cloth
  • A microfiber towel

What you will need to do:

  1. Pour some whole milk into a bowl or similar container. Then, dip a cotton cloth in the bowl for a soak.
  2. Next, you can drench a terry cloth in cold water.
  3. Place the terry cloth over the cotton cloth and set both on the permanent marker stain.
  4. You should wait for 5 to 6 hours for the milk to loosen up the ink pigments.
  5. At the 5- or 6-hour mark, take a peek under the cloths. If the stain is still there, add some more milk to them and leave them for several hours more. You can keep the cloths there overnight if the stains are stubborn.
  6. Take the cloths away the next day and rinse the treated surface. Use your typical washing solution and a washing mitt.
  7. Dry the spot with a microfiber towel to finish.

Option #2 - Using Goof Off


If you have never used Goof Off for cleaning before, you will thank us for introducing it to you! It is an inexpensive and accessible store-bought solution that can remove Sharpie from painted car exteriors.

What you will need to have:

  • Goof Off
  • Some cotton balls, pads, or a cloth
  • A cloth

What you will need to do:

  1. Apply a moderate amount of Goof Off onto a cotton ball, pad, or cloth.
  2. Hold the soaked cotton ball, pad, or cloth against the marker stain for 3 minutes.
  3. Rub the stained spot in circular motions with gentle pressure. Continue rubbing until the permanent ink is lifted.
  4. Wipe the treated spot clean with another wet cloth. Check that no traces of ink are left.

Option #3 - Using Goo Gone


Goo Gone is another excellent solution to get Sharpie off a car. It can remove paint marker from a car and remove pen ink from car exterior too.

SImilar to Goof Off, you can easily buy it for a not-so-hefty price. It will help you get the cleaning job done in a matter of minutes.

What you will need to have:

  • Goo Gone
  • Three cloths
  • Soapy water

What you will need to do:

  1. Grab your Goo Gone and spritz a bit of it directly onto your permanent marker stain. You must make sure that you are spritxing from a safe distance.
  2. Allow 5 minutes for the Goo Gone to work and dissolve the ink.
  3. Wipe the spot down with a wet cloth. If the stain does not come off completely, repeat the steps.
  4. Once the ink fades, rinse the surface again with soapy water. Be sure to use a new cloth.
  5. Dry the surface with a fresh cloth to finish.

Option #4 - Using Rubbing Alcohol


You can use rubbing alcohol to get marker off car windows. They might work for car doors, but to be sure, you must conduct a patch test.

What you will need to have:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Some cotton balls
  • A cloth

What you will need to do:

  1. Pour some rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball.
  2. Use the cotton ball to rub the permanent marker stain on your car exteriors.
  3. Apply gentle pressure and use circulation motions while you rub.
  4. Continue rubbing until all the ink is lifted.
  5. Wipe the treated surface with a damp cloth.

You will be glad to know that rubbing alcohol can additionally remove other impurities from your car windows and doors, like grease and oil. Why not kill many birds with one stone?

Other Tips for Removing Permanent Markers From Car Exteriors

Tip #1 – Avoid Using Anything Abrasive

Car exteriors can easily scratch and discolor. So, while you are attempting to remove a permanent marker stain from them, it is best to not use anything abrasive.

This applies to pads, sponges, and towels. Always choose the softest type.

Tip #2 – Avoid Applying Too Much Pressure

In line with the fact that it is quite easy to cause damage to car exteriors, you should never go too hard while trying to take off a permanent marker stain. Apply gentle pressure; aggressiveness will do more harm than good.

Tip #3 – Patch Test Beforehand

Even though the methods above work for many people, there is always a chance it is not ideal for your particular case. So, it is essential to do a patch test before you follow-through with a method.

Doing a patch test will also help give you an idea of how much time and effort you need to invest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are ways to get permanent markers off car interior?

You can use whole milk, Goof Off, Goo Gone, or rubbing alcohol to eliminate permanent marker stains. These are all fairly inexpensive and easy to find. You just need to pick one based on how much time and resources you have.

How long does Sharpie last on car exterior?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this. It might last longer if the quality of the Sharpie is high, if the stain has been made for a while now, and if it is a stubborn and large mark. The type and age of the paint on your car exterior might also be an influencing factor.

Generally, though, Sharpie marker stains are erasable.

Can rubbing alcohol damage a car’s paint?

Rubbing alcohol is generally a safe option. So, you can use it to remove stains on car paint. It can also remove Sharpie from metal, making it a versatile cleaning solution to have at home.

But it is still recommended to do a patch test with it before you apply a large amount to your car. Better safe than sorry, right?

Can you remove permanent marker from painted car exteriors?

Yes! It is totally possible to remove permanent marker ink from painted surfaces of a car. For example, you can get permanent marker off car roof. The methods that are outlined above are all worth trying.

Someone wrote on my car with permanent marker. How to clean the outside of my car?

You can choose one cleaner among whole milk, Goof Off, Goo Gone, or rubbing alcohol, or try two to make sure the stains are completely gone. Consider the materials you have at hand to make a pick.


How to get permanent marker off car exterior? Whole milk or rubbing alcohol are good options. You can also think about getting store-bought solutions like Goof Off or Goo Gone. The best method is the one that works for you. So, experiment with them all and select a winner. Be sure to test patch first and steer clear from abrasives.

We hope that this has been informative and helpful. Let us know how the cleaning process goes. We want to celebrate a newly-cleaned car exterior too!

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