How to Make a Sharpie Work Again? – 4 Effective Methods

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to make a sharpie work again

Sharpie marker inks do not quickly fade, smudge, or get erased by water– overall, these are fantastic markers. That is why it would be a waste to dispose of dried out Sharpie markers!

Here’re some methods on how to make a sharpie work again. This article teaches you how to revive those dying Sharpie markers in techniques depending on the type of marker.

Determine the Type of Sharpie Marker You Have!

Before attempting to bring a Sharpie back to life, finding out the types of Sharpie markers will help you know which method to use when you fix them.

Essentially, there are three types of Sharpie markers in the market– alcohol-based, water-based, and oil-based markers. You can just read the labels of your Sharpie marker. The guide below will significantly help in saving them:

  • For alcohol-based markers: Rubbing alcohol or vinegar will work well.
  • For water-based markers: Methods that use water can revive these markers.
  • For oil-based markers: There is insufficient information and evidence on how to fix an oil-based Sharpie marker. However, some say you may try the same method to revive water-based markers.

Indeed when Sharpies run out of ink, you may be unable to save your markers. Nonetheless, there is no harm in trying! However, you’d have to go back to the store and raise a concern if your new sharpie pen not working, as it is a manufacturing defect and not a matter of whether the ink has dried up anymore.

How to Get a Water-Based Sharpie to Work Again


What to prepare for this method:

  • Water
  • Boiling pot
  • Stove
  • Oven mitts or potholders
  • Small bowl
  • Scratch paper

It is reasonable to apply water to revive a Sharpie water-based marker since it is what the pen is mainly made of.

  • Get a boiling pot and pour a small amount of water into it. The measurement of the water should depend on how many markers you are planning to save.
  • Wait until the water boils, and take the pot off the stove using oven mitts or potholders to protect your skin from burning.
  • Pour water into a small bowl.
  • Get your dead Sharpie marker and take the cap off. Dip the marker tip in the water and let it absorb the liquid for a few minutes.
  • To test if it’s sufficient, take a piece of scratch paper and apply a few strokes using your marker to get the colors flowing and remove any extra water.

Repeat the steps if the marker needs to soak in water for longer.

How to Get an Alcohol-based Sharpie to Work Again

There are four ways in which you can revive permanent markers. Whether trying to rescue a broad or fine point Sharpie, these methods can work as long as your pen is alcohol-based. So, pick one and follow the steps!

Method #1: Dip it in rubbing alcohol!


What to prepare for this method:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small bowl
  • Scratch paper

Rubbing alcohol can be used to rehydrate markers that are alcohol-based since it is the main component of this kind of pen.

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into a small bowl.
  2. Grab your Sharpie marker and take the cap off.
  3. Let the marker nib soak the rubbing alcohol by dipping it in the liquid substance for about 15 minutes.
  4. To check the effectiveness, make a few strokes on the scratch paper you previously prepared.

Method #2: Inject rubbing alcohol!


What to prepare for this method:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small bowl
  • Syringe with needle
  • Scratch paper

If you have difficulty balancing or holding your marker upside down on a bowl, you can use a syringe with a needle to fix dried markers.

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into a small bowl, just enough so your syringe can reach and absorb the liquid substance.
  2. Take your syringe and dip its needle in the rubbing alcohol.
  3. Pull the end of the syringe to get a manageable amount of the liquid.
  4. Inject the alcohol into the nib of the pen.
  5. Test it out constantly on a piece of scratch paper. Add more alcohol as you see fit but don’t overdo it.

Method #3: Apply rubbing alcohol on the ink reservoir!


What to prepare for this method:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Small bowl
  • Pliers
  • Dropper
  • Rag
  • Scratch paper

If dipping the nib or injecting rubbing alcohol into it feels lacking, you can add alcohol directly to the ink reservoir to refill a Sharpie permanent marker!

  1. Pour rubbing alcohol into a small bowl, just enough so your dropper can still absorb the liquid.
  2. Lay your rag flat on the desk.
  3. Use pliers to open a Sharpie marker.
  4. Pull the marker barrel and nib holder to reveal the ink reservoir. On Sharpies, the reservoirs are attached to the nib holder.
  5. Turn the nib holder upside down or in a position where the ink reservoir is on top. Ensure that the rag is right under your nib, as it prevents any ink or alcohol from dropping directly on your desk.
  6. Take your dropper and dip its end in the rubbing alcohol. Pinch its end to get a manageable amount of alcohol.
  7. Pinch it again on the ink reservoir to apply alcohol. Add more as you see fit.
  8. Put the marker barrel and nib holder back, hearing a click to confirm that they are locked in place.
  9. Test the marker out on a piece of scratch paper.

Method #4: Dip it in vinegar!


What to prepare for this method:

  • Vinegar
  • Small bowl
  • Scratch paper

You may opt for vinegar to save your marker without rubbing alcohol. But unlike rubbing alcohol, the effectiveness of using vinegar is not guaranteed and may even ruin your marker if overdone.

  1. Pour vinegar into a small bowl.
  2. Get your marker and take the cap off.
  3. Dip the nib of the marker in the vinegar for a quick second. The trick is to let the tip soak vinegar little by little to manage the amount and prevent your marker from getting destroyed permanently.
  4. Test it out on the scratch paper.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the different types of sharpie -based on ink?

Sharpie has three types of markers. These are alcohol-based, water-based, and oil-based pens. Depending on the marker kind, you may use water, rubbing alcohol, or vinegar to revive dried out Sharpie markers!

Do not try to save the marker with hydrogen peroxide, as there is little evidence of its effectiveness.

How do I know that the sharpie ink has run out or dried?

There is probably still ink in the marker if it has color or smell on the marker nib.

If you notice the ink of the marker drying out, you may use the methods in this article to save it. But if you are unsure whether your marker dried up or ran out of ink, you can still try rehydrating the pen if you’d like!

Why sharpie dried out quickly?

Similar to water, alcohol-based ink evaporates too. So, you must always put the cap back after use since the air allows the marker to dry up quickly.

Can you heat sharpie marker to make it fix?

Heating a Sharpie marker using a hairdryer can also work. To do this, open your marker and blow dry the ink reservoir ink for a couple of seconds.

This may not be one of the known ways to revive Sharpie markers, but some claim that it works as long as you’re careful with it.


It is good to practice being resourceful every now and then to prevent further destroying our environment or going to the store frequently to buy markers!

So, this article teaches you how to do just that and provides ways on how to make a Sharpie work again.

Always remember that when reviving markers, the first step is to check the main component of the marker to determine which method you should try!

Read more: Tips to make gel pens work again.

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